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Assessment of social vulnerability to climate change at the local scale: development and application of a Social Vulnerability Index

Cuong Viet Nguyen (), Ralph Horne, John Fien and France Cheong
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Cuong Viet Nguyen: Binh Dinh Department of Natural Resources and Environment
Ralph Horne: RMIT University
John Fien: RMIT University
France Cheong: RMIT University

Climatic Change, 2017, vol. 143, issue 3, No 6, 355-370

Abstract: Abstract Social vulnerability to climate change is increasingly being acknowledged, and proposals to measure and manage it are emerging. Building upon this work, this paper proposes an approach to social vulnerability assessment using new empirical definitions of Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) components and new mechanism to aggregate and account for causal relationships among these components. To develop this index, the authors propose a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, which are all based on local environmental professionals and community members. A means to develop an appropriate primary dataset, through application of a specifically designed household survey questionnaire, is underpinned by the results of a Delphi survey, an in-depth interview and focus group discussions. The data collection and analysis, including calibration and calculation of the SVI, is demonstrated through application in a case study city in central coastal Vietnam. The calculation of SVI at the fine-grained local scale provides high resolution in vulnerability assessment and also obviates the need for secondary data, which may be unavailable or problematic, particularly at the local scale in developing countries. The research reveals inherent limitations of existing SVIs but also indicates the potential for their use in assessing social vulnerability and making decisions associated with responding to climate change at the local scale.

Date: 2017
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DOI: 10.1007/s10584-017-2012-2

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