Geographic Vulnerability Analysis in Developing Countries

Eliza Drury worked with me over the summer of 2015 in the Climate and Development Lab at Brown University to analyze geographic analysis in national adaptation programmes of action and apply geographic vulnerability analysis to the test case of Malawi’s climate change adaptation plans. We wanted to test whether adaptation plans really prioritized the places where climate change vulnerability is greatest, as defined in the adaptation planning process itself. We found that very few countries used geographic vulnerability analysis, but that the method helped improve the quality of proposed adaptation projects (see diagrams below).

National adaptation planning without geographic vulnerability analysis does not recognize interactions of vulnerability between sectors or develop projects cutting across sectors.
National adaptation planning without geographic vulnerability analysis does not recognize interactions of vulnerability between sectors or develop projects cutting across sectors.
National adaptation planning with geographic vulnerability analysis. Improvements are signaled with red font color. GVA helps identify interactions of vulnerability between sectors and plan cross-sectoral adaptation projects targeting the most vulnerable locations.
National adaptation planning with geographic vulnerability analysis. Improvements are signaled with red font color. GVA helps identify interactions of vulnerability between sectors and plan cross-sectoral adaptation projects targeting the most vulnerable locations.

We reviewed methods and guidelines for national adaptation planning provided by developing countries by the UNFCCC and Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG), and found that geographic analysis was recommended, but guidance was out of date. In response to this, Eliza took on senior work in environmental studies with myself and Dr. Timmons Roberts to update guidance for developing countries to use geographic vulnerability analysis using Malawi as an example case. She presented this work at the climate change research conference in Bangladesh and fulfilled an invitation to write a summary of the work for the Dhaka Tribune.

As final products, we are publishing a Technical Guide to Geographic Vulnerability Analysis (with Eliza as lead author) and an applied Geographic Vulnerability Analysis Exercise.