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The Environmental Vulnerability Index

A vulnerability index for the natural environment, the basis of all human welfare, has been developed by the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and their partners. The index was developed through consultation and collaboration with countries, institutions and experts across the globe. This index is designed to be used with economic and social vulnerability indices to provide insights into the processes that can negatively influence the sustainable development of countries.

The reason for using indices for this purpose is to provide a rapid and standardised method for characterising vulnerability in an overall sense, and identifying issues that may need to be addressed within each of the three pillars of sustainability, namely environmental, economic and social aspects of a country’s development. Development is often achieved through trade-offs between these pillars. Therefore, in order to promote sustainability, it has become increasingly important to be able to measure how vulnerable each aspect is to damage and to identify ways of building resilience. With this information to hand, the outcome for countries could be optimised for their unique situations and development goals. Read more

Environmental Vulnerability:

The issue

Healthy, productive and protective environments, social systems and economies are the basis of sustainable development and human welfare. The environment is the source of all our raw materials and absorbs the pollution from our activities. In turn, whilst going about our daily business (social and economic) we use the environment and convert its resources and natural services into those that directly support us. The problem is that all of these systems can be damaged, overloaded, or prevented from meeting our needs. By our own choices we can to a large extent determine our own quality of life, the condition of our lands and opportunities for future generations. Environmental Vulnerability is a new way of looking at an age-old problem. Read more

Building resilience in SIDs

The Barbados Programme of Action (BPoA), Section C5 Vulnerability Index (paragraphs 113 and 114) called for the development of vulnerability indices and other indicators that reflect the status of Small Island Developing States (SIDs) and integrate ecological fragility and economic vulnerability. An emphasis was placed on how such an index and other measures might be used as quantitative indicators of fragility.

  • Developed by SOPAC, UNEP and partners
  • 32 collaborating countries
  • Global relevance (not just SIDs)
  • Designed to be used with economic and social vulnerability indices to provide insights into the processes that can negatively influence the sustainable development of countries
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