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Mapping climate change vulnerability and impact scenarios – A guidebook for subnational planners


A key planning tool to formulate low-emission, climate-resilient plans is the mapping of vulnerabilities to climate change. This is the topic of the present United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) publication, Mapping climate change vulnerability and impact scenarios: A guidebook for subnational planners, which aims to help sub-national planners identify and map current and future vulnerability to long-term climate change. This work builds on a large range of UNDP’s ongoing initiatives to map climate change vulnerability and support climate change adaptation at the national and subnational levels. It is a contribution to the process of articulating a low-emission climate-resilient plan, and is one of a number of upcoming UNDP publications that aim to assist in this goal. The series consists of a main publication, A Primer on Integrated Climate Change Planning for Regional Governments, which provides an overview on how to pursue low-emission climate-resilient development, and guidebooks like this one, that are topic specific and that outline a process that is important to achieving a low-emission future.

Climate change is a cross-cutting issue that is increasingly recognized as a necessary component of development-oriented decision-making and is being integrated into this process by planners. In order to support subnational areas (“territories”) to become resilient to anticipated climate change, it is important for the nature of vulnerability to be understood from a subnational perspective and reflected in relevant development strategies that are formulated at various levels (local, subnational and national). Climate change vulnerability refers to the state of susceptibility to harm from exposure to climate hazards, and the ability of the subnational territory (or other unit of analysis) to cope with, and recover from, such exposure as well as manage incremental and long-term change in climate. The likelihood of exposure to anticipated and/or unexpected climate-induced hazards and perturbations is thus only one part of the equation. In addition, climate change vulnerability encompasses how much the subnational territory (the environment, society, and economy) will be affected – in other words, how sensitive it is to the change. It also includes the territory’s potential to cope with, recover, and adjust to the impacts of climate change, that is, its adaptive capacity. Identifying vulnerability is therefore a necessary prerequisite to developing low-emission climate-resilient plans and strategies, and to ensuring that societies are resilient in the face of climate change. Once vulnerability has been determined, it is often useful to map this information so that the likely location(s) of vulnerable sectors and people are identified for a range of likely possible climate futures. This information, in turn, can be used for multiple purposes, including advocacy as well as contributions towards investment decisions and prioritization of actions.

View the report here: Mapping climate change vulnerability and impact scenarios – A guidebook for subnational planners