Climate change will cause long term effects on ecosystems and human systems. Different systems are however not equally susceptible to and have different possibilities of coping with these effects. A system’s vulnerability refers to the degree to which the system can cope with changes and whether it is susceptible to it or not (Parry 2007). Vulnerability therefore depends on the exposure to climate change (the character, magnitude or rate of change or effect), the sensitivity and the adaptive capacity of the system. Still, all components and people in the system will not be affected equally and will have different vulnerabilities.
This is a literature review of scientific studies in social vulnerability aiming at finding groups of people in a society who are vulnerable to the effects of climate change (such as heat waves, flooding and landslides/erosion). Much of the focus when it comes to social vulnerability studies have been in regards to natural hazards, and since the effect from climate change can be similar, this literature review has included vulnerability assessments both of natural hazards risks and climate related risks or crisis. This is a summary of the findings where socio-economic vulnerability is presented together with common approaches for assessing vulnerability.
A total of ten scientific articles were chosen as a basis for this summery, both from the natural hazards field and the field of climate change research. The articles were chosen to show a broad range of approaches to study and view social vulnerability, be suitable and useful for a Swedish setting and also to be relevant in relation to the goals of the project in which the study was made. One article (Füssel 2007) serves to give a general orientation in the field and a meta-analytical perspective, while the other texts provide examples of recent frameworks developed for assessing vulnerability (Cutter et al. 2003, Cutter et al. 2008, Wilhelmi and Hayden 2010, Holand et al. 2011, Reid et al. 2009), whereas some texts discuss the use of social indicators (King and MacGregor 2000), seek to contextualize social vulnerability (Kuhlicke et al. 2011) or review recent finding on certain climate related risks (Oudin Åström et al. 2011, Rocklöv et al. 2011). In addition to the scientific literature in the field, Swedish tools designed by the research programme CLIMATOOLS for the specific purpose of assessing vulnerability have been included.
The literature review was made as a background study for designing focus group interviews with vulnerable population segments, as part of the project Adapting cities to climate induced risks – a coordinated approach, which is a trans-disciplinary project aiming at developing methodology and knowledge on how to manage climate induced risk and increase resilience towards climate change in Swedish cities. This literature review is part of the work package aiming at developing a tool for assessing and finding vulnerable groups of people in Swedish cities or municipalities.
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2012. , 16 p.