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Compendium on methods and tools to evaluate impacts of, and vulnerability and adaptation to, climate change

UNDP Adaptation Policy Framework (APF)

The APF provides guidance on designing and implementing projects that reduce vulnerability to climate change, by both reducing potential negative impacts and enhancing any beneficial consequences of a changing climate. It seeks to integrate national policy making efforts with a “bottom-up” movement.

The framework emphasizes five major principles: adaptation policy and measures are assessed in a developmental context; adaptation to short-term climate variability and extreme events are explicitly included as a step toward reducing vulnerability to long-term change; adaptation occurs at different levels in society, including the local level; the adaptation strategy and the process by which it is implemented are equally important; and building adaptive capacity to cope with current climate is one way of preparing society to better cope with future climate.

The APF is a flexible approach in which the following five steps may be used in different combinations according to the amount of available information and the point of entry to the project:

  1. Defining project scope and design;
  2. Assessing vulnerability under current climate;
  3. Characterizing future climate related risks;
  4. Developing an adaptation strategy;
  5. Continuing the adaptation process.

The framework focuses on the involvement of stakeholders at all stages.

Appropriate Use The APF is particularly applicable where the integration of adaptation measures into broader sector specific policies, economic development, poverty reduction objectives, or other policy domains is desirable.
Scope All sectors, all regions, particularly developing countries.
Key Output Increased adaptive capacity through prioritized adaptation strategies that can be incorporated into development plans.
Key Input

Depends on the particular application and available information. Stakeholder derived information is a key input at all stages.

Vulnerability mapping, dynamic simulation of sustainable livelihoods, multistakeholder analysis, cost-effectiveness, decision trees, multicriteria analysis, among others.

Ease of Use Depends on specific application
Training Required Depends on nature of particular application
Training Available A User’s Guidebook is available on the APF web page. Training will be developed.
Computer Requirements In most cases personal computer is sufficient. Depends on tools employed, however.
Documentation A User’s Guidebook for APF and the technical papers that elaborate the APF can be obtained online at

Kenya, Honduras, Central America.

Contacts for Framework, Documentation, Technical Assistance

Bo Lim

Chief Technical Advisor, Capacity Development and Adaptation Cluster, UNDP, New York; Fax: 1.212.906.6998; e-mail: Technical assistance on individual steps can be obtained from lead authors of the appropriate technical papers.

Cost Depends on particular application

Burton, I., S. Huq, B. Lim, O. Pilifosova and E.L. Schipper 2002. From Impacts Assessment to Adaptation Priorities: the Shaping of Adaptation Policy. Climate Policy, Amsterdam, Vol.2, 145-159.

Lim, B and E. Spanger-Siegfried (eds.). 2004. Adaptation Policy Frameworks for Climate Change: Developing Strategies, Policies and Measures. New York: United Nations Development Programme.

Also see individual technical papers available on website for references.