Indicators or metrics are commonly viewed as being critical to understanding progress in climate change adaptation. The article first examines distinct characteristics of climate change adaptation and mitigation and the implications for measuring progress in these two interrelated policy domains. The multiple purposes of adaptation metrics are then presented and analysed, including identifying adaptation needs, allocating resources, tracking implementation, assessing results and aggregation across scales. Reflecting upon recent practice, the article outlines some of the pitfalls of applying adaptation metrics and identifies the potential for a better understanding of adaptation. By acknowledging and learning from the pitfalls of adaptation metrics, practitioners, advisors and policy-makers can avoid mismatches between what metrics are expected to do and what they can actually deliver in practice. Reviewing the pitfalls and potential of adaptation metrics will help inform the international debate and may contribute to improved applications of adaptation metrics in policy and practice.

Leiter, T. & Pringle, P. (2018). Pitfalls and potential of measuring climate change adaptation through adaptation metrics. In: Christiansen, L., Martinez, G., & Naswa, P. (Eds.): Adaptation Metrics: Perspectives on measuring, aggregating and comparing adaptation results, pp.29-47. UNEP DTU Partnership.

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