Fussell and Klein_2006_Integrated Assmnt of Risk Reduction Programs.pdf - CLIMATE CHANGE VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENTS AN EVOLUTION OF CONCEPTUAL THINKING

Fussell and Klein_2006_Integrated Assmnt of Risk Reduction Programs.pdf

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CLIMATE CHANGE VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENTS: AN EVOLUTION OF CONCEPTUAL THINKING HANS-MARTIN F ¨ USSEL 1 , 2 and RICHARD J. T. KLEIN 2 1 Center for Environmental Science and Policy, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, U.S.A. E-mail: [email protected] 2 Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany Abstract. Vulnerability is an emerging concept for climate science and policy. Over the past decade, efforts to assess vulnerability to climate change triggered a process of theory development and as- sessment practice, which is reflected in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This paper reviews the historical development of the conceptual ideas underpinning as- sessments of vulnerability to climate change. We distinguish climate impact assessment, first- and second-generation vulnerability assessment, and adaptation policy assessment. The different gener- ations of assessments are described by means of a conceptual framework that defines key concepts of the assessment and their analytical relationships. The purpose of this conceptual framework is two-fold: first, to present a consistent visual glossary of the main concepts underlying the IPCC approach to vulnerability and its assessment; second, to show the evolution of vulnerability assess- ments. This evolution is characterized by the progressive inclusion of non-climatic determinants of vulnerability to climate change, including adaptive capacity, and the shift from estimating expected damages to attempting to reduce them. We hope that this paper improves the understanding of the main approaches to climate change vulnerability assessment and their evolution, not only within the climate change community but also among researchers from other scientific communities, who are sometimes puzzled by the unfamiliar use of technical terms in the context of climate change. 1. Introduction The last two decades have witnessed extensive research on potential and observed impacts of climate change on all kinds of natural and social systems, as reviewed in McCarthy et al. (2001). This research has been conducted to advance scientific knowledge and to support the formulation and implementation of policies that limit adverse impacts of climate change and variability on environmental and human systems. This paper reviews the evolution of approaches for assessing vulnerability to climate change. We distinguish four prototypical assessment stages that address different research and policy questions. Conceptual framework diagrams show the main concepts applied in each stage and their analytical relationships. The purpose of this paper is two-fold. First, we present the prevailing understanding of the climate change community in general, and as presented in the IPCC in particular, on key concepts related to vulnerability and adaptation to climate change, and on their analytical relationships. Second, by presenting four stages of vulnerability Climatic Change (2006) 75: 301–329 DOI: 10.1007/s10584-006-0329-3 c Springer 2006
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