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Surviving climate change: Which countries are most prepared?

The effects of climate change continue. The atmosphere and oceans are warming, the amount of snow and ice are diminishing, sea levels are rising, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases are increasing.

But which countries are best prepared to cope with these challenges?

The ND-Gain Index measures countries according to two variables - vulnerability to the effects of climate change and readiness to adapt by analysing factors like healthcare, food supply, and government stability in order to help countries counter the risk of a changing climate.

GAIN has been doing its rankings since 1995, and the good news is that a comparison between the earliest and most recent risk maps show us that the world, in large part, is better prepared than it was in the 1990s.

Norway is the most prepared of all the countries. In fact, it has been number one for preparedness for over two decades, thanks to high scores for food stability, healthcare, access to clean water and energy infrastructure. New Zealand, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Denmark are some of the other best prepared nations.

Developed countries as a whole have far more infrastructure to adapt to a warming planet. The countries most at risk and least prepared are in Africa. Most have a lack of agricultural and medical resources combined with infrastructural and political insecurity. Therefore the index highlight the need for richer, more technologically advanced nations to help less developed countries, and aims to help governments and communities better prioritise investments for a more efficient response to the immediate global challenges ahead.

The top 10 countries most prepared for climate change are as follows:

  1. Norway
  2. New Zealand
  3. Finland
  4. Sweden
  5. Switzerland
  6. Denmark
  7. Austria
  8. Iceland
  9. Australia
  10. Singapore

Adaptation measures may be planned in advance or put in place spontaneously. They include large scale infrastructure changes, such as building defences to protect against sea-level rise or improving the quality of road surfaces to withstand hotter temperatures, as well as individuals using less water, and farmers planting different crops.