A review of decision-support models for adaptation to climate change in the context of development

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


  • John Jacob Nay
  • Mark Abkowitz
  • Eric Chu
  • Daniel Gallagher
  • Helena Wright

Colleges, School and Institutes


In order to increase adaptive capacity and empower people to cope with their changing environment, it is imperative to develop decision-support tools that help people understand and respond to challenges and opportunities. Some such tools have emerged in response to social and economic shifts in light of anticipated climatic change. Climate change will play out at the local level, and adaptive behaviours will be influenced by local resources and knowledge. Community-based insights are essential building blocks for effective planning. However, in order to mainstream and scale up adaptation, it is useful to have mechanisms for evaluating the benefits and costs of candidate adaptation strategies. This article reviews relevant literature and presents an argument in favour of using various modelling tools directed at these considerations. The authors also provide evidence for the balancing of qualitative and quantitative elements in assessments of programme proposals considered for financing through mechanisms that have the potential to scale up effective adaptation, such as the Adaptation Fund under the Kyoto Protocol. The article concludes that it is important that researchers and practitioners maintain flexibility in their analyses, so that they are themselves adaptable, to allow communities to best manage the emerging challenges of climate change and the long-standing challenges of development.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-367
Number of pages11
JournalClimate and Development
Issue number4
Early online date28 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2014


  • agent-based, cost–benefit analysis, decision-support, GIS, simulation modelling

Sustainable Development Goals