Based on the review of the equity and cost-effectiveness literature and relevant policy documents, the authors identify three indicators for equity (vulnerability level, poverty, number of beneficiaries), and three indicators for cost-effectiveness (economic savings in absolute and relative terms, human lives saved).

Applying these simple indicators to information provided in 16 project documents considered by the Adaptation Fund Board (AFB) in 2011, they find that projects approved by the AFB rank high according to one cost-effectiveness indicator (absolute economic savings), while they rather rank low according to all equity and further cost-effectiveness indicators.

Furthermore, the authors analyse whether ‘equity’ and ‘cost-effectiveness’ are two contradicting principles, or if ways can be found to reconcile both principles in multilateral adaptation finance.

They conclude from both theory and the 16 analysed projects that a pure economic definition of cost-effectiveness is in contradiction with equity, but tradeoffs between equity and cost-effectiveness can be limited if relative wealth savings and other indicators, e.g. human health, are used as indicator for cost-effectiveness.

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