Photo by ETA+ on Unsplash. Factory building in Canada with smoke emissions.

Factory on the banks of the Saint John river in Canada. Photo by ETA+ on Unsplash

This theme aims to collate work on climate change vulnerability definitions, concepts and frameworks and highlight case assessments of vulnerability from community to cities to national level and from livelihoods to resource sectors by researchers and practitioner.

Definitions of vulnerability have arisen from a range of academic disciplines and accompanying frameworks for vulnerability. The Glossary of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (2022) defines vulnerability to climate change broadly as follows: "The propensity or predisposition to be adversely affected. Vulnerability encompasses a variety of concepts and elements including sensitivity or susceptibility to harm and lack of capacity to cope and adapt". By looking at questions of social and physical vulnerability, dynamic and multi-stressor vulnerability, the theme will cover sectors such as agriculture, water, forestry, health and so on at a range of scales, from the household and community levels, rural and urban up to national and regional levels.

Regardless of the vulnerability analysis framework used social, economic, institutional, and political structures modify social and climate change vulnerability, hence there is a focus on multi- stressor vulnerability. The theme covers also assessments of vulnerability, impacts to climate change across sectors, nations and regions, and identification of adaptation options through vulnerability analysis. Increasingly there is concern about the resilience of urban areas to climate change and also on differential vulnerability between genders and better off and poorer communities.

Evaluating vulnerability and adaptation strategies is important to identify and measure the level of the short- and long-term threats (natural disasters, climate change) and the ability to cope with these threats. Evaluation can also inform and support decision-making, government policies, planning, international aid and investment, help and orientate processes for deciding on priorities in strategies and initiatives to reduce vulnerability and adapt and, finally, for defining and applying measures aimed at reducing present and future vulnerability.

Assessing national vulnerability to climate change is a contentious issue because of the implications relative vulnerability has for apportioning international funds. This theme aims to discuss some of the issues around interpreting vulnerability and the use of indices in national assessments. How can vulnerability assessments be done to make them more useful to national governments and regional policy makers? What use are spatial analyses for assessing impacts on agriculture and water resources and identifying locations where food security will become more of a problem or reductions in water resources will put pressure on communities and regional stability? The use of spatial data for mapping will be explored as a tool for overlaying social vulnerability and natural and climatic hazards. Alongside more technical assessment tools we will also discuss more inclusive and participatory tools and methods that can be used in assessing various aspects of vulnerability.


Participating Organisations




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Participating Organisations