ADVANCE is a partnership between World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Columbia University Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR) at The Earth Institute, and more recently expanded to include several Columbia centers.

Launched in 2015, ADVANCE facilitates adaptation by providing new ways of generating and integrating climate risk information into conservation and development planning, policies, and practice. ADVANCE works with local governments, communities, civil society and educational institutions to provide adaptation and climate change mitigation options to communities already responding to climate change.  

ADVANCE does this through 3 key functions:

  1. Strengthen climate expertise in developing countries
  2. Support enhanced understanding of complex interactions between people, biodiversity, and the climate through research and monitoring
  3. Assist in the design and monitoring of on-the-ground activities to help people and nature adapt to a rapidly changing world

ADVANCE’s projects to date vary based on each country’s unique local context, objectives, and needs.

For further information about ADVANCE, please contact Manishka De Mel (


  • ADVANCE has implemented 10 projects since January 2015
  • ADVANCE has produced projections for regions in 12 countries: Myanmar, Colombia, Bolivia, Paraguay, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Mongolia, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Zambia
  • Reached over 500 people directly through workshops and conference sessions
  • Led or presented at 15 workshops and 3 conference sessions
  • Visited 7 countries for workshops and 3 countries for conferences


  • Radley Horton (Principal Investigator and Science Lead)
  • Cynthia Rosenzweig (Senior Advisor)
  • Manishka De Mel (Research and Program Management)
  • Danielle Manley (Research)

ADVANCE Projects

  1. Valuing Nature in Myanmar’s Changing Climate

In Myanmar, ADVANCE collaborated with WWF Myanmar and Stanford University to integrate climate projections into the country’s natural capital assessment. Using this information, The Natural Capital Project and WWF created nationwide maps and an assessment showcasing how Myanmar’s ecosystem of mangroves, forests and watersheds help to buffer the country from climate change impacts. The climate risk information developed by ADVANCE was published as a Climate Risk Assessment for Myanmar, highlighting projections by region. ADVANCE also provided climate science support for two township vulnerability assessments led by UN-Habitat and the Myanmar Climate Change Alliance.

  1. Conservation and Adaptation in Asia’s High Mountains

ADVANCE supported Climate-Smart Landscape Planning in Asia’s High Mountains by providing climate risk information for six regions for a USAID project implemented by WWF and its partners. The headwaters of Asia’s great rivers are a vital source of freshwater for millions of people and is also home to the endangered snow leopard. By integrating climate risk information to landscape management plans, ADVANCE is addressing the challenges brought on by climate change, benefiting both people and nature.  

  1. Climate-Smart Conservation in Bhutan

Bhutan has large extents of forested land, covering more than half of the country. Under its constitution, 60% of its land must remain natural. To ensure that Bhutan remains economically and environmentally sustainable during changing times, WWF and the Government of Bhutan committed to create an innovative funding approach called ‘Bhutan for Life’ to maintain the country’s protected areas in perpetuity. ADVANCE presented climate risk information to Bhutan’s National Environmental Commission to support climate-smart conservation that takes a changing climate into account when planning and managing its protected area system.

  1. Redesigning Mangrove Conservation in Colombia

In Colombia, mangrove conservation is vital to maintaining ecosystem services, for example by keeping carbon out of the atmosphere, and by buffering coastal communities from storms and sea level rise. With climate science support from ADVANCE, WWF Colombia and its local partners are updating conservation strategies for mangrove forests along Colombia’s Pacific coast.

  1. Harnessing Nature to Help People Adapt in Central Asia

ADVANCE worked with the German international development agency, GIZ, to help remote communities in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan build resilience in the face of climate change through ecosystem-based adaptation. Climate information developed by CCSR were used in village-level ecosystem-based adaptation projects. Lessons learned from this work will be used to inform future efforts that help remote communities prepare for change.

  1. Resilient Beef and Soy Production to Reduce Deforestation in Paraguay

With support from ADVANCE, WWF Paraguay is helping to assess the impacts of climate change on beef producers in the Chaco region and soy producers in the Atlantic Forest. The goal of the project is to support sustainability of local livelihoods, in order to reduce deforestation and protect Paraguay’s dwindling forest cover and biodiversity.

  1. Climate Risk Information for the Kafue Basin in the Zambezi Watershed

WWF Netherlands’ is carrying out freshwater and agriculture resilience work to support local communities in the Zambezi watershed. Previously available climate information did not align with project needs, both in terms of content and spatial scale. In response, ADVANCE developed climate scenarios tailored to stakeholder needs, focusing on alternate climate futures that can be used in watershed planning and management.  

  1. Climate Risk Information for Protected Area Expansion and Planning in Colombia

WWF Colombia was tasked with supporting climate-integrated protected area management in some regions of the country, including newly declared parks. To support this initiative, ADVANCE continued its engagement in Colombia by providing climate information and scenario planning guidance.  

  1. Preparing for Change in the Bolivian Amazon

Communities living in and around Bolivia’s Manuripi Amazonian National Wildlife Reserve rely on sustainable foraging of the forests’ Brazil nuts to support their livelihoods. In recent years, the production of Brazil nuts has declined significantly, with changing weather patterns identified as a contributor to this phenomenon. ADVANCE produced climate projections to help park managers and local communities plan for future changes. WWF Bolivia is helping these communities understand how climate change is affecting Manuripi and Brazil nut production, while also introducing alternatives.

  1.  Climate Change Risk Index for Protected Areas

The Climate Change Risk Index for Protected Areas (PARC Index) is being designed to help conservation planners and practitioners better balance risks and resilience across the portfolio of protected areas that they support. The index is currently under development as a pilot initiative and will include a range of criteria, with ADVANCE providing climate projections for 14 protected areas in Africa that are vital for elephant conservation.

Key Events and Activities

Since 2015, ADVANCE has participated in several key events and carried out non-project related activities to strengthen the collaboration between the two institutions and share lessons learned.


ADVANCE has presented at the Adaptation Futures Conference in Rotterdam, Netherlands, The IUCN World Congress in Hawaii and The Asia Pacific Climate Change Forum in Sri Lanka in 2016.  

Fuller Symposium

Cynthia Rosenzweig moderated a session on ‘Inevitable Change’ during WWF’s Fuller Symposium in November 2016.


Over 200 questionnaires were conducted during ADVANCE workshops to evaluate understand the use of climate information by stakeholders and its challenges.

WWF Food Lab Online Session

In January 2017, Alex Ruane (NASA/CCSR) presented on understanding local and global pressures on current and future food systems during a WWF Food Lab online workshop.

Sustainable Development Class Project with Columbia University Seniors

Columbia’s Sustainable Development seniors carried out a review of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) of the Paris Agreement. Professor Stuart Gaffin’s students reviewed the INDCs of 26 WWF countries to uncover threats and opportunities for conservation across WWF’s six goals.

Climate thresholds database for species and ecosystems

ADVANCE is building a database to document known climate thresholds of key ecosystems and species in project countries to better understand research gaps and needs.


Printed publications

Peer-reviewed Publications


  • Climate Risk Information for Ecosystem-Based Adaptation to Climate Change in the High Mountainous Regions of Central Asia: Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
  • Climate Risk Information for Labutta and Pakokku in Myanmar
  • Climate Risk Information for Asia’s High Mountains
  • Climate Change in the Manuripi Amazonian National Wildlife Reserve
  • Climate Change in the Kafue Basin in the Zambezi Watershed

Sample Communications and media

Myanmar Times – Is Myanmar ready for climate change? [November, 2016]