11 - fact sheet

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Measuring a country's vulnerability to climate change
Some changes in climate are unavoidable due to the long atmospheric life of greenhouse gases and the inertia of the climate system. Countries, sectors and people will therefore need to adapt to reduce the impacts of climate change. To make better policy choices, decision-makers need information about vulnerability and adaptive capacity at scales ranging from the local community up to the country as a whole. Dr Neil Adger, from the University of East Anglia's CSERGE and the Tyndall Centre, is working with colleagues to develop indicators of vulnerability based on aspects such as health and social cooperation. They will combine this information with economic measures and indicators of sensitivity to environmental changes. Building on their previous research and observations of vulnerability and adaptive capacity at local scales, the researchers are developing indicators on a national scale. For every country in the world for which data is available, they are examining material well-being, geography, environmental indicators and other information - particularly in relation to health status and social structure. They are developing economic and socio-economic indicators at national level, taking into account inequality in wealth distribution. They are also developing institutional, political, health and social capital indicators, examining which structures provide more co-ordinated action in response to climate crises. The aim is to then aggregate these indicators into a sophisticated and robust composite index of a nation's vulnerability, and extend these to different scales. Such indicators will help countries identify and plan for the impacts of climate change in their region. The indicators will draw decision-makers' attention to the constraints on adaptation, such as poor health or rigid institutions. The results will also help reduce vulnerability by enabling funds and work to target particular groups within countries, countries themselves, or both. The researchers will also compare the indicators to theoretical adaptation models for incorporation into the Tyndall Centre's Integrated Assessment Model. A Tyndall Centre project is developing indices that represent a country's vulnerability to climate change, and its capacity to adapt to the impacts. More information Contact the lead investigator of Project IT1.11 (New indicators of vulnerability and adaptive capacity): Dr Neil Adger CSERGE University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK Phone: +44 (0) 1603 59 3732; Fax: +44 (0) 1603 50 7719 Email: Other researchers involved in this project are: Dr Mick Kelly, Professor Graham Bentham, Dr Nick Brooks, Dr Maureen Agnew, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia Project duration: April 2001 to June 2003 Useful web sites: The Tyndall Centre: The Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment (CSERGE): Tiempo climate library:

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