Assessing the Costs and Benefits of Adaptation Options: An Overview of Approaches

The Nairobi Work Programme
Posted on: 10/31/2011 - Updated on: 3/06/2020

Posted by

Hannah Robinson



From the Introduction:

Current and projected climate change will exhibit impacts on numerous systems and sectors that are essential for human livelihoods. An increasing number of countries, regions and communities are embarking on adaptation activities. This strengthened demand for adaptation efforts necessitates access to a range of robust and transparent assessment approaches to enable decision makers to efficiently allocate scarce resources. For adaptation to be successful, it should ideally be undertaken within a comprehensive and iterative process of social, institutional and organizational learning and change. Assessing the costs and benefits of adaptation options is an important part of this process, assisting adaptation planners and practitioners to identify the most appropriate interventions for reducing vulnerability, enhancing adaptive capacity and building resilience.

This publication has been developed under the Nairobi work programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change, and provides an introduction to a range of different assessment approaches and methodologies and shares best practices and lessons learned. It builds upon activities and contributions from the Nairobi work programme and its partners.

This publication aims to:

  • Elaborate on the role and purpose of assessing the costs and benefits of adaptation options in the adaptation process;
  • Introduce a range of key methodological issues;
  • Explain the most commonly used assessment approaches;
  • Describe lessons learned and good practices;
  • Provide a glossary of the most commonly used terms;
  • Provide a bibliography of useful resources and references.

The publication does not, however, claim to be a comprehensive assessment of all possible approaches, recommend one specific assessment technique above another – even though it does illustrate the variety of approaches, including their strengths and shortcomings; nor does it provide answers as to how much adaptation measures might cost – but it does provide support to help choose between numerous possible options.


The Nairobi Work Programme. (2011). Assessing the costs and benefits of adaptation options: An overview of approaches. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat. Retrieved from CAKE:…

Affiliated Organizations

UNFCCC stands for United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Convention has near universal membership (198 Parties) and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep the global average temperature rise this century as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The UNFCCC is also the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.


Document Type
Target Climate Changes and Impacts