Policy attention to climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability: a global assessment of National Communications (1994–2019)

Robbert Biesbroek*, Sarah Judith Wright, Stefanie Korswagen Eguren, Anita Bonotto, Ioannis N. Athanasiadis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Over the past 30 years countries across the globe have developed and implemented policies and measures on climate change impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability (IAV). This paper empirically explores whether and how policy attention around climate change IAV has shifted over time and across regions. We use structural topic modelling to analyse the main themes and regional differences reported by 196 countries in their UNFCCC National Communications over the period 1994–2019. Based on 612 documents, we find impact topics dominate policy attention (>50% of the topics), but this has decreased in recent periods. Attention to the topic on governance, adaptation, and vulnerability have increased over time and across all regions. We observe a more homogeneous spread of topics in recent time periods, and large differences across topic proportions across 6 regions. Results further suggest that the different IAV topic distributions between Annex I and non-Annex I countries continue to persist. Our findings and approach can help to gain a clearer picture of how policy attention to IAV is evolving globally. Key policy insights: Policy attention in National Communications to adaptation has slowly increased but remained stable since 2013. Asia and Africa have paid more attention to adaptation compared to Europe and North America where focus on impacts dominates. Compared to earlier time periods, the topic distribution of impacts, adaptation and vulnerability in 2017–2019 is most different across regions. Large regional differences in attention to IAV suggest the need to tailor the global stocktaking under the Paris Agreement to better understand progress countries and regions make.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-111
Number of pages15
JournalClimate Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2022


  • Climate change policy
  • National Communication
  • Natural Language Processing
  • policy analysis
  • policy attention
  • quantitative text analysis


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