Responding effectively to climate change requires assessing the impacts of climate policies. While emission reduction efforts can be measured through science-based metrics like degree centigrade or greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, adaptation and resilience are change processes occurring in context-specific settings that do not easily lend themselves to standardised measurement. Timo Leiter’s PhD research therefore explores how progress on climate change adaptation can be assessed at global, national and sub-national level. He is drawing on multi-year participant observation at the UN climate change negotiations and on action research with government officials in the design of adaptation monitoring and evaluation systems. Timo’s timely research contributes to scholarship on global environmental governance, international negotiations, climate change adaptation and monitoring & evaluation (M&E).
Timo recently completed a global stocktake of national adaptation M&E systems which shows that 60% of countries with a national adaptation plan do not have mechanisms in place to track its implementation. This finding emphasises the need to focus attention on the quality of adaptation planning and its implementation. Timo works in close collaboration with the Adaptation Committee, the LDC Expert Group, the OECD, bi- and multilateral development organisations and several government ministries to observe and learn from practice and translate his research findings to policy processes.
Timo’s PhD research, his advisory and outreach activities seek to support climate action under the Paris Agreement, in particular the implementation of its transparency framework and the operationalisation of the Global Stocktake. Timo has also developed practical tools and guidance including:
- The Adaptation M&E Navigator to match M&E purposes with suitable methods and approaches
- A guidebook for the development of national adaptation M&E systems in collaboration with the UNFCCC Adaptation Committee and the LDC Expert Group
- The guidebook “Adaptation made to measure” for the design of climate adaptation projects and results-based monitoring systems
Timo is a frequent speaker at international conferences and UNFCCC events and has authored numerous journal articles, book chapters and policy briefs. He is the lead author of a background paper on adaptation metrics for the Global Commission on Adaptation, a lead author of UNEP’s Adaptation Gap Report (2017, 2020, 2021) and a contributing author to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, Working Group II on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. . He also acts as referee for several peer-reviewed scientific journals.
Between 2011 and 2019, Timo worked at Germany’s technical agency for international development cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ) in several projects on adaptation and climate finance. Part of his position has been to advice the climate policy units of Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and of South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). As climate change focal point based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Timo led GIZ’s support to the Tanzanian government for the National Adaptation Plan process and was responsible for the delivery of climate adaptation, capacity building and climate finance readiness activities. Timo also led the development of innovative climate change projects including the project “Climate Services for Infrastructure Investments”, commissioned 2017 by the International Climate Initiative with a volume of more than five million Euro.
Timo holds a five-year university degree (“Diplom-Ökonom”) in Ecological Economics and Sustainability Management from the University of Oldenburg, Germany and a Master’s degree with High Distinction from Bond University, Queensland, Australia. He has been awarded a PhD scholarship from the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
- Climate change adaptation
- Monitoring & Evaluation
- Climate policy
- Global Environmental Governance
- Climate resilient development
Research - 2021
This perspective identifies how recent advances contribute to re-evaluating and re-constructing global environmental negotiations as a research object by calling into question who constitutes an actor and what constitutes a site of agreement formation. Read more
This synthesis of 1,682 articles presents a systematic and comprehensive global stocktake of implemented human adaptation to climate change. Read more
This study finds that more than 60% of countries that adopted a national adaptation plan (NAP) are not tracking its implementation. Read more
Policy - 2021
This report, published by the UN Environment Programme, finds that there is an urgent need to step up climate adaptation finance. Estimated adaptation costs in developing countries are five to ten times greater than current public adaptation finance flows, and the adaptation finance gap is widening. Read more
News - 2021
In this article Timo Leiter responds to South Africa’s proposal for a quantitative target for boosting resilience to climate impacts. He says that the proposal faces both technical and political challenges. Read more
Climate policy has long been relegated to the sidelines in Tanzania. The late President's vision for economic growth can be achieved only if his successor puts Tanzania on a climate-resilient development pathway, argues Timo Leiter. Read more
Timo Leiter, a lead author on UNEP’s latest Adaptation Gap Report, explains why simplistic metrics are not meaningful in understanding global progress on adaptation and how this is being improved. Read more