UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction


Accountable Adaptation

A five-year research project that seeks to increase ambition and inclusion in climate adaptation finance.

COP27 Sharm el-Sheikh Venue, photograph credits: Susannah Fisher

15 November 2023

Accountable Adaptation is a five-year research project (2022–2027) that seeks to increase ambition and inclusion in climate adaptation finance through understanding how measurement, knowledge and politics interact to shape adaptation outcomes.

Adapting to climate change is a vital part of protecting progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, with climate hazards and risks already increasing in frequency and severity. Responding to them will need urgent adaptation in the coming decade and a massive scaling up of adaptation finance. This is an opportunity to prioritise longer-term adaptation in the face of pressing socio-economic challenges. Measurement frameworks and indicators are one tool of accountability and can be powerful. They can define the policy question at hand, embed social values, and promote visions of the future. They therefore offer an important empirical lens to open up questions of power, ambition, inclusion and urgency around adaptation action to understand how metrics and knowledge shape adaptation planning and implementation in the interactions and spaces between international, national and local actors.

The challenge

Adaptation investments have often been incremental. They have not always reduced vulnerability or been at the scale needed to respond to anticipated climate impacts in the future. There is a need to strengthen accountability, both to those affected by climate change and to the international community providing finance.  This project will explore the tensions between the pressures for urgency and scale of finance, and the need for inclusion and accountability in process and outcomes.


The research project will make three core contributions. It will:

  1. Understand the development and application of adaptation metrics and knowledge systems as social and political processes, and through this advance knowledge and theoretical debates on the role of knowledge practices within climate finance and global and national adaptation governance
  2. Co-produce new approaches for accountability in climate adaptation, bringing together diverse stakeholders to support international and national policy processes and define further research developments
  3. Support an open community of practice of academics and practitioners to support capacity strengthening and inspire further research and policy advances

Funding details

This project is funded by a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship: “Urgency with inclusion in global climate adaptation finance: why measurement matters”. [Grant Number MR/W008572/1]

Project duration: May 2022 – April 2027

Principal Investigator: Dr Susannah Fisher, Principal Research Fellow, Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction

Post-Doctoral Research Fellows: Dr Jonathan Barnes and Dr Biraj Adhikari

Research Project Manager: Aishath Green

Collaborators: Dr Joanes Atela and Dr Dharam Uprety

Partner organisations: African Research and Impact Network and Practical Action

Image: COP27 Sharm el-Sheikh Venue, credits: Susannah Fisher