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Governments, businesses, and citizens all need access to good information to make wise decisions in a changing climate. However, the uncertainty of climate change impacts, the complex drivers of vulnerability, and the multiple time scales of climate impacts all make the information needs for adaptation unclear. As countries move forward with adaptation planning, sound policy-making will require improvements in both information availability and decision-making practice.

We can gain much by using information that is already being collected. By combining data from different sources a picture will emerge about their “autonomous” adaptation, which can provide the basis for an adaptation policy that is rooted in the present. Demographic data on residence and mobility, economic data on livelihoods, agricultural data showing changes in farmers’ choice of crop varieties and use of irrigation, health data reflecting new disease patterns, and data on the participation in social protection and public works schemes–all these types of data are routinely collected by government institutions. However the data collection systems need to be reviewed so that the data collected better reflects dynamic change, particularly changes in the interaction between people and their environment.

The great challenge is to put all this data together so that it can be regularly updated, analyzed, and used to inform adaptation policy to identify people’s adaptation options. WRI works to help bridge the gap between information producers and users, and to enable the creation of information that will help decision-makers at all scales better understand their adaptation options

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