Notre Dame Takes on Climate Investment Project

Photographer: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Indiana. Close

The Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Indiana.

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Photographer: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Indiana.

Bloomberg BNA -- The University of Notre Dame is taking the reins of an index designed to help investors decide which countries are ideal for climate adaptation projects, the university said.

The index identifies countries where investment in climate change adaptation is most needed due to vulnerability to climate change impacts, and then measures readiness to absorb investment funds and apply them effectively to increase resilience.

The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (NDGAIN), formerly the Global Adaptation Index, also aims to help governments develop policies to spur climate-related investment. The Global Adaptation Institute, the parent body for the index, launched the project in September 2011.

Companies currently use the index to measure the rate of return for investing in water conservation, coastal protection, and other projects in countries in which they operate, said Juan Jose Daboub, chief executive officer of the Global Adaptation Institute, speaking at a news conference April 18. Governments currently use the index to prioritize public funding, he said.

Goal Is to Direct Capital Investment

“The goal is to direct capital investment to the places around the world that need it the most,” Daboub said.

The Global Adaptation Institute also has briefed the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Agency for International Development about using the index.

Handing the initiative over to Notre Dame will provide greater resources to the project and enable researchers to make the index more detailed, Daboub said.

NDGAIN also is receiving a $2 million donation from the Natural Gas Partners Foundation for the index.

One of the top priorities for researchers now is to rank regions within countries according to their climate vulnerability and readiness to adapt, such as U.S. states or Chinese provinces, said Jessica Hellmann, a Notre Dame professor and director of the climate adaptation program at the Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative, who also spoke at the news conference.

Index Used by Governments, Companies

The index can be used differently depending on investment priorities, Hellmann said.

Aid institutions like the World Bank and government agencies can use the information to direct resources to countries that are most vulnerable to climate change, while the private sector may focus on countries that are vulnerable to climate change but also have opportunities to adapt, which presents a higher chance of a good return on investment, Daboub said.

A country's readiness to adapt is determined by its fiscal situation, access to technology, the strength of the rule of law, and other factors, Daboub said. This is then modeled against the country's exposure to climate change impacts such as weather events and water availability, he said.

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