The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN) is working to develop the Urban Adaptation Assessment (UAA), a data-driven, adaptation measurement tool for cities across the United States, including Puerto Rico. Currently, the team has selected the appropriate vulnerability and readiness indicators, and is now working to build out the urban-scale assessment framework before putting the tool into practice.

In October 2016, ND-GAIN began the work to expand the UAA from a pilot study examining five cities to scaling it out to more than 270 cities in the United States. The 24-month project funded by the Kresge Foundation, analyzes the climate risk and readiness of every U.S. city with a population over 100,000 –  in an effort to help cities ignite conversation around preparing for climate change impacts and to inform decisions on infrastructure, land use, water resources management, transportation and other adaptive strategies.


At the heart of the UAA is a sub-city social equity analysis, which explores the distribution of adaptive capacities and demographic variables to shed light on potential social inequities within a city. ND-GAIN is actively collaborating with the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment to examine climate hazards, including extreme heat, extreme cold, inland flooding, drought and sea level rise.

ND-GAIN formed a 30-member Advisory Committee comprised of leading adaptation and social equity experts to capture expertise, and provide insight and feedback from city stakeholders and community groups in the development of the project's many facets. Such input will assist in the development of a free and open-source, interactive and online platform, allowing a wide-range of stakeholders, including city leaders and community organizers, to view their city's climate risks and readiness for investment as well as manipulate indicators on their preferences.

The mission of the UAA is intended to spark conversation and dialogue: it inspires adaptation questions and helps users identify opportunities and priorities. In addition, its outputs are intended to aid in the planning process, better inform policy, highlight funding needs, empower users, build upon existing adaptation efforts and facilitate on-the-ground action. The team also hopes to explore the utility of the UAA methodology and framework with the international sphere.

Check out our recent blog for a summer update on the project. Please subscribe to our newsletter for future updates!