Conceptual elements of climate change vulnerability assessments: a review

Marta Bruno Soares (Environmental Initiatives Research Group, School of Science, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, UK)
Alexandre S. Gagnon (Environmental Initiatives Research Group, School of Science, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, UK)
Ruth M. Doherty (School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK)

International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management

ISSN: 1756-8692

Publication date: 24 February 2012

Abstract

Purpose

The concept of vulnerability in climate change literature is underpinned by numerous theoretical contributions across different disciplines leading to disparate understandings of what climate change vulnerability entails, as well as different methodological frameworks for assessment. This multiplicity of contributions helped not only to frame and shape different understandings of vulnerability but also to define the conceptual and analytical elements considered as critical in any climate change vulnerability assessment. The purpose of this paper is to review the literature on climate change vulnerability and explore and synthesize those conceptual and analytical aspects considered fundamental in a vulnerability assessment in climate change.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on existing literature on climate change vulnerability and vulnerability assessment frameworks, the paper provides a review of the conceptual elements regarded as critical in integrated assessments of climate change vulnerability to date.

Findings

A review of the existing literature identified nine critical elements in vulnerability assessments: the coupled human-environment system and place-based analysis; key components of vulnerability; multiple perturbations; scales of analysis; causal structures of vulnerability; engaging stakeholders; differential vulnerability; historical and prospective analysis; and dealing with uncertainty. The paper concludes by highlighting some of the remaining challenges and limitations for the development of integrated vulnerability assessment in climate change research.

Originality/value

The paper presents a synthesis that draws on existing literature on climate change vulnerability theory, as well as vulnerability assessment frameworks that attempt to apply those concepts in the assessment of climate change vulnerability.

Keywords

Citation

Bruno Soares, M., S. Gagnon, A. and M. Doherty, R. (2012), "Conceptual elements of climate change vulnerability assessments: a review", International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 6-35. https://doi.org/10.1108/17568691211200191

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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