In April 2013, the Global Adaptation Institute moved to University of Notre Dame from Washington, D.C., and became the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN). Located in South Bend, ND-GAIN is a program within the Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative (ND-ECI). ND-ECI pursues interdisciplinary research that provides solutions to society’s complex environmental challenges to minimize the trade-offs between human welfare and environmental health.


With 50+ affiliated faculty, ND-ECI draws on a breadth of scholarly expertise in science, engineering, social sciences and the humanities. Research by ND-ECI helps engineers to protect cities with safer flood control measures; farmers to conserve soil and water quality, while maintaining high crop yields; peacemakers to understand how natural events such as drought can spark famine, wars and forced migration.


This integrated approach is embodied in the “Science Serving Society” motto of ND-ECI and ND-GAIN. It reflects Notre Dame’s hallmark commitment to both the earth’s ecological health and to the poor and vulnerable who suffer most from the ravages of a changing environment.


To develop a broader identity beyond the Country Index, ND-GAIN recently updated its name, but not the acronym. Now known as the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative, the team has expanded its scope in terms of expertisescholarly outputsresearch initiatives and collaborative engagements.

ND-GAIN’s flagship asset is its annual Country Index, an online tool that uses 45 indicators and over 20 years of data to summarize the vulnerability and readiness of 181 nations to the global challenges brought by climate disruption. Building upon the Index, ND-GAIN released the Urban Adaptation Assessment (UAA), a measurement tool for decision makers that focuses on climate risk and readiness at the city level. Funded by the Kresge Foundation, the UAA was piloted in five U.S. cities and now includes 278 U.S. cities with populations over 100,000. 


ND-GAIN’s Country Index and UAA are two of several key research initiatives being explored by ND-ECI faculty. 

Additional climate research ranges from exploring green roofs and urban heat islands, to adaptation’s role in agricultural productivity, infectious disease transmission and armed conflict, as well as work on coastal adaptation in the face of sea level changes and more.