Amsterdam Sprint: Coping with Vulnerability to Climate Change

The University of Amsterdam is pleased to announce the second in its series of four EMAPS sprints dedicated to mapping climate change controversies, entitled “Coping with Vulnerability to Climate Change: Adaptation, its Limits and Post-adaptation Mechanisms.” The sprint will take place between 24 and 28 March 2014 at the University of Amsterdam. The sprint is five days, with the first day dedicated to presentations by issue experts, followed by three days of project work and a last day devoted to presenting the outcomes and discussing the next steps to follow.

The 19th conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which took place in November 2013, culminated in the establishment of an “international mechanism for loss and damage”. According to the UNFCCC Decision CP.19, “such an international mechanism include[s] functions and modalities to address loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.” Some of the adverse effects prompting this arrangement include extreme weather events and sea level rise. Crucially, the same document acknowledges that “loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change includes, and in some cases involves more than, that which can be reduced by adaptation”. This recognition of the limits of adaptation marks the opening up of the climate change debates to a new phase that deals with loss and damage as a consequence of the failure to adapt and to mitigate. The sprint “Coping with Vulnerability to Climate Change: Adaptation, its Limits and Post-adaptation Mechanisms” addresses national and urban adaptation mechanisms, as well as mechanisms to cope with vulnerability post-adaptation, such as the increasingly prominent “loss and damage” arrangement. Building on a Digital Methods Initiative workshop from October 2013, this sprint also explores other prominent scenarios resulting from the limits or failure to adapt, such as risk management, regional tensions and conflict.

Figure 1. ‘Climate Vulnerability World Map’. The map indicates the least and most vulnerable countries, as well as the uncertain ones, based on the triangulation of three vulnerability indexes: the DARA Climate Vulnerability Monitor (CVM)Germanwatch and the GAIN Index. Source: Digital Methods Initiative Climate Conflicts workshop, October 2013

Against this background, a number of research questions are identified per theme.

Vulnerability

Vulnerability is given a range of definitions. A number of different variables, from environmental disasters, to habitat change and industry stress, are taken into account in the measurement of vulnerability.

  • How is the issue of vulnerability to climate change coming into being in online and scientific literature?
  • How resonant are different national vulnerability indexes online and in scientific literature? Which are the central and which are the neglected ones?
  • How resonant are different variables or indicators in the composition of national vulnerability indexes?
  • What countries are of concern according to various indexes and which are the safe spots?
  • How prominent are these countries in the online issue space of climate change and that of its sub-issues (demarcated through their vulnerability indicators)?
Maplecroft’s Climate Change Vulnerability Index indicates seven cities central to global economic activity as subject to extreme risk: Dhaka (Bangladesh), Manila (the Philippines), Bangkok (Thailand), Yangon (Myanmar), Jakarta (Indonesia), Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), and Kolkata (India).
  • How is urban vulnerability to climate change becoming an issue online?
  • How prominent are these cities in the online issue space of climate change and that of its sub-issues (demarcated through their vulnerability indicators)? How does this resonance vary across online issue spaces, looking at a city’s resonance within climate change on Google.com, Google News, Twitter and other spaces?
  • How does imagery (using Google Image results) depict urban spaces for the top most vulnerable and top most resilient cities?

Adaptation

  • How is the issue of climate change adaptation discussed online?
  • How do online debates around climate change adaptation evolve over time?
  • How is climate change adaptation localised? How is “the local” present in online adaptation debates (as a speaker or as a subject)?
  • Examining a database of over 300 climate change adaptation projects in Germany, provided by Competence Centre on Climate Impacts and Adaptation ( KomPass), we ask: What is the topical focus of these projects? Can issue attention cycles be identified? Who are the beneficiaries of these projects?
Loss and damage

As the relatively new issue of loss and damage enters the institutional agenda, we ask:
  • How is the issue of loss and damage discussed online? Is it a legal issue, a humanitarian issue, an economic issue, or a development issue? What are the scenarios, actors, and associated vulnerability variables? Who is driving this agenda and which are the neglected concerns and actors?

Conflict
As the discourse around the issue of climate change and conflict intensifies, we ask:

  • How is the issue of climate change conflict treated in various spheres online? What are the places of climate change conflicts? Who are the actors in this space? Who are the victims and decision makers?

The schedule for the sprint week is as follows:

Date Time Activity Location
24 March 9.30-17.00 Issue expert presentations University Library, Singel 425, Belle van Zuylenzaal (C1.13)
25 March 9.30-17.00 Data sprint Media Studies, Turfdraagsterpad 9, rooms 0.12 and 0.13.
26 March 9.30-17.00 Data sprint Media Studies, Turfdraagsterpad 9, rooms 0.12 and 0.13.
27 March 9.30-17.00 Data sprint Media Studies, Turfdraagsterpad 9, rooms 0.12 and 0.13.
28 March 9.30-11.00 Presentation preparation Media Studies, Turfdraagsterpad 9, rooms 0.12 and 0.13.
11.15-12.45 Presentations Media Studies, Turfdraagsterpad 9, room 0.13.
We will be updating information on the sprint on the following link: https://wiki.digitalmethods.net/Dmi/VulnerabilityClimateChange

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