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Turner et al Vulnerability - A framework for vulnerability...

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A framework for vulnerability analysis in sustainability science B. L. Turner II a,b,c , Roger E. Kasperson b,d , Pamela A. Matson e , James J. McCarthy f , Robert W. Corell g , Lindsey Christensen e , Noelle Eckley g,h , Jeanne X. Kasperson b,d , Amy Luers e , Marybeth L. Martello g , Colin Polsky a,b,g , Alexander Pulsipher a,b , and Andrew Schiller b a Graduate School of Geography and b George Perkins Marsh Institute, Clark University, Worcester, MA 01602; d Stockholm Environment Institute, S-130 14 Stockholm, Sweden; e Center for Environmental Science and Policy, Institute for International Studies, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-6055; and f Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, g Kennedy School of Government, and h Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138 Communicated by Susan Hanson, Clark University, Worcester, MA, March 7, 2003 (received for review February 25, 2003) Global environmental change and sustainability science increas- ingly recognize the need to address the consequences of changes taking place in the structure and function of the biosphere. These changes raise questions such as: Who and what are vulnerable to the multiple environmental changes underway, and where? Re- search demonstrates that vulnerability is registered not by expo- sure to hazards (perturbations and stresses) alone but also resides in the sensitivity and resilience of the system experiencing such hazards. This recognition requires revisions and enlargements in the basic design of vulnerability assessments, including the capac- ity to treat coupled human–environment systems and those link- ages within and without the systems that affect their vulnerability. A vulnerability framework for the assessment of coupled human– environment systems is presented. R esearch on global environmental change has significantly improved our understanding of the structure and function of the biosphere and the human impress on both (1). The emer- gence of ‘‘sustainability science’’ (2–4) builds toward an under- standing of the human–environment condition with the dual objectives of meeting the needs of society while sustaining the life support systems of the planet. These objectives, in turn, require improved dialogue between science and decision making (5–8). The vulnerability of coupled human–environment sys- tems is one of the central elements of this dialogue and sustain- ability research (6, 9–11). It directs attention to such questions as: Who and what are vulnerable to the multiple environmental and human changes underway, and where? How are these changes and their consequences attenuated or amplified by different human and environmental conditions? What can be done to reduce vulnerability to change? How may more resilient and adaptive communities and societies be built?
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