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As the risks from a warming world intensify, so will the consequences for humanity and the natural environment—from disruptions in food, water, and energy supplies to increases in damage from extreme weather and sea level rise.

While the changing climate will impact everyone in some manner, poor citizens in developing countries will suffer the most. They tend to live in places more exposed to climate risks, and they have fewer resources to adapt to changing conditions or recover from extreme weather events. Furthermore, governing institutions often lack the tools, resources, and other capacities that they need to effectively serve these populations, and the people themselves have limited power, voice, and access to information.

WRI’s Climate Resilience Practice helps governments, civil society, and the private sector to develop adaptation solutions in line with the scale and scope of climate change. We work at multiple scales to develop adaptation strategies that both serve and engage vulnerable people, with a particular focus on the poor.

The Climate Resilience Practice comprises a diverse body of work, united in the objective of building resilience in the developing world. We help city leaders and community members take action to make their cities more resilient. We improve the quantity and quality of adaptation finance by empowering civil society to track financial flows and by building capacity among the developing country institutions. Our Scaling Adaptation project identifies successful adaptation measures and how they can spread across multiple scales. At the international level, we advise countries on how to effectively include adaptation in their global climate pledges. At the local and national levels, we track the progress and success of adaptation projects. And we work with the private sector by exploring how to engage micro and small businesses in building community resilience.

Our current projects build on a foundation of almost 10 years of work on climate change adaptation, much of which was conducted by a prior incarnation known as the Vulnerability & Adaptation Initiative. We recently concluded a long-standing body of work with the Unites States Agency for International Development, and we have developed path-setting knowledge products to assess national institutional capacity and support civil society.


  1. Developing countries will need more than $140 billion annually to adapt to climate change by 2050, but adaptation finance in 2013 was only $25 billion, leaving at least a $115 billion gap. (UNEP 2014CPI 2014)
  2. By 2100, climate change is expected to increase the number of poor people in both developed and developing countries, jeopardizing sustainable development. (IPCC)
  3. Drought could increase by more than 20 percent in most of the world by 2080, and the number of people exposed to droughts could increase by 9-17 percent in 2030 and 50-90 percent in 2080. (World Bank)
  4. The number of people exposed to river floods could increase by 4-15 percent in 2030 and 12-29 percent in 2080. (World Bank)
  5. At the global level, warming of 2°C or 3°C could increase the number of people at risk for malaria by up to 5 percent, or more than 150 million people. (World Bank)

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