Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment: From adaptation research to practice

VA diagram newThe Department of Climate Change, General Secretariat for Sustainable Development (GSSD) and the National Committee for Sub National Democratic Development (NCDD) are using the official guidelines for conducting vulnerability reduction assessment (VRA) at the sub-national level. The requirement to conduct the VRA is part of the inter-ministerial Prakas on technical guidelines on the preparation and establishment of subnational development plans and rolling investment programmes, approved by Ministry of Planning and Ministry of Interior in March 2017. VRA results can be used to mainstream climate change adaption and disaster risk management into Commune Development Plans (CDPs) and Commune Investment Programmes (CIPs).

The prakas includes technical guidance on how to conduct a community participatory vulnerability assessment, looking at how climate change has been affecting local communities by examining climate-related hazards, their exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity in order to minimize risks. However, the drawback of using this VRA approach is that it does not yet integrate downscaled climate data in the identification of local adaption measures. A next step to improve VRA results will be to use downscaled climate data and climate projections information, as well as to introduce guidance on how to avoid maladaptation in project prioritization.

Vulnerability of a system (i.e. community, environment, infrastructure, etc.) to climate change is assessed in terms of its exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity to extreme climatic events as shown in the figure below. Exposure to climate change refers to the degree to which a system is exposed to significant climatic variations. In other words, exposure of a community to climate change refers the presence of that community (including its people, livelihoods, infrastructure and other environmental, economic, social or cultural assets) in places that could be adversely affected by significant climate variation. Sensitivity is the degree to which a system is affected either adversely or beneficially by climate-related hazards. Hazard generally refers to climate-related physical impacts that may cause loss of life or otherwise endanger health, infrastructure, livelihoods and environmental resources. Adaptive capacity is the ability of a system to cope with climate-related risks. For example, a community with high adaptive capacity is one that is prepared and has the means to cope with climate change (e.g. a community that is less dependent on climate sensitive sectors or livelihoods or has adopted climate resilient infrastructure and adaptation technologies).

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