Mapping Climate Change Vulnerability together with its Indexes

Post by Sophie Waterloo and Richard Rogers

The Amsterdam EMAPS sprint (March 24th-28th 2014), entitled ‘Coping with Vulnerability to Climate Change: Adaptation, its Limits and Post-adaptation Mechanisms’, was dedicated to the mapping of climate change vulnerabilities, vulnerability indexes and adaptation across a variety of relevant information, media and policy spaces. We are happy to share some of the findings that resulted from the 6 mapping projects that were developed, in two formats. First, below please find links to detailed project pages, with the research questions, methods, findings as well as the visualization output. Second we have created a pdf walk-through — a slide show to view the main findings at a glance (download document here). We would like to thank all the participants and the climate change experts who were able to join us in Amsterdam and whose input helped make this sprint productive.

The mapping projects were inspired by the climate change experts invited to present the current state of the art in the field as well as their analytical needs with respect to the topics of climate change adaptation, public policy, risk and vulnerability monitoring. Hans-Martin Füssel of the European Environment Agency provided insights into the opportunities and pitfalls of vulnerability mapping, explaining the differences in interpreting vulnerability and the varied outcomes each type of mapping produces. The work inspired questions concerning the extent to which adaptation and mitigation policies, as a way to manage vulnerability within Europe, compete and compliment, and how different ethical perspectives on vulnerability would influence the allocation of funding for European countries. Richard Klein, Senior Research Fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute and Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Climate Science and Policy followed with a discussion on the difficulties associated with the assessment of vulnerability on an academic as well as a political level, encouraging critical thought about the purposes of vulnerability indices, and their use cases. Matthew McKinnon from the United Nations Developed Programme (UNDP) and Editor of DARA’s Climate Vulnerability Monitor talked about the approaches, applications and actions of measuring the impact of climate change on a global scale. He introduced thinking about the emerging issues of food security, human mobility and the militarization of the Arctic, all as a result of vulnerability to climate change. Lastly, Sönke Kreft, Team Leader of International Climate Policy at Germanwatch, provided methodological considerations, key messages and limitations from Germanwatch’s Climate Risk Index, which initiated the idea of examining the users and uses of vulnerability indexes.


Listed below are the titles of each of the six mapping projects along with the research questions each project focused on, and a link to the project wiki page where the methods, visualization and findings are presented in more detail:


1.0| The Issuefication of a Place: The Issue Dynamics of a Melting Arctic

a) How is the Arctic being issuefied, in the sense of being made into a social issue?
b) What are the matters of concern a melting Arctic activates?
c) Which types of actors are bearing the issue, and how?

Find project page here


2.0| Stormtalk: Situating Adaptation and Vulnerability with Social Media

Do extreme weather events put climate change on the agenda in France?
a) How is climate change ‘localised’ during the 2014 municipality elections in France?
b) How are people’s responses to extreme weather events influenced by their proximity to the events?
c) What are the differences in language usage between climate change discussions and those on extreme weather events?
d) To what extent are discussions on climate change triggered by specific events?

Find project page here


3.0| Online Resonance of the Global Climate Change Issue Agenda

a) Which issue areas of NGOs in leading climate change platforms (Tck Tck Tck and Climate Action Network) are prioritized in the climate change space?
b) To what extent do the emerging issues ‘food security’ and ‘migration’ (or human mobility) resonate within the global issue agenda of NGOs related to climate change?
c) May one ascertain a geographical distribution of the matters of concern?

Find project page here


4.0| Users and Uses of Vulnerability Indexes

Which particular climate change vulnerability indexes and/or indicators that are relevant in the selected decision-making contexts are ‘competing’ and where can we locate this competition?
a) Is there a correlation between high vulnerability ranking and funding?
b) Which website cites which index?
c) In what context are the indices cited?
d) Which countries are citing which indices in their National Communication (NC) documents?
e) When are different indices cited in these NC documents?
f) How do indices rise and fall within the scientific literature?
g) What are the top indices per journal?
h) In which context are the indices cited in the scientific literature?
i) When do the indices catch the attention of the media?
j) Do attention cycles coincide with press releases, or do they seem to be driven by other events as well?

Find project page here


5.0| Climate Change Studies on Adaptation Strategies in Germany and Central Europe: Mapping with the Kompass Database

a) Which topics (sectors and fields of activity) are covered in the scientific projects from Germany and Central Europe?
b) To what extent do topics of projects correspond with the climate change impacts that regions face, and are there any regional patterns of project funding to be found?
c) Are there any patterns in the structure of the actors involved in the projects?

Find project page here


6.0| On Europe’s Readiness to Adapt to Climate Change

a) Are those countries leading the way in mitigation also leading in adaptation, or are the ones leading in mitigation slacking in adaptation?
b) What are the differences in funding allocation for European countries when following different strategies or ethical principles (proportionality, utilitarian and egalitarian)?

Find project page here



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