A framework for examining adaptation readiness

  • James D. Ford
  • Diana King
Original Article


Adaptation readiness is proposed as a complimentary concept to adaptive capacity that captures the strength and existence of governance structures and policy processes which determine whether adaptation takes place. As such, adaptation readiness is concerned with examining actual experiences with planning for adaptation and seeks to characterize whether human systems are prepared and ready to ‘do adaptation.’ We propose a framework for evaluating readiness, identifying 6 overarching factors essential for adaptation taking place: political leadership, institutional organization, adaptation decision making and stakeholder engagement, availability of usable science, funding for adaptation, and public support for adaptation. For each readiness factor we identify potential indicators, data sources, and considerations for analysis, outlining approaches for quantitative scoring and qualitative examination. We briefly illustrate application of the framework using an example from the territory of Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic, a region projected to experience some of the most dramatic changes in climate globally this century. The framework provides a systematic approach for assessing adaptation readiness, and can be used – in combination with other approaches – to inform the identification and prioritization of adaptation support, guide resources to areas where need is greatest, and serve as a proxy for adaptation tracking.


Adaptation Adaptation readiness Climate change Adaptive capacity Adaptation tracking Conceptual model Assessment framework Indicators 



This work was funded by an Insight Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Thanks to Lea Berrang-Ford for assistance in preparing the manuscript.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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