Measuring Vulnerability to Natural Hazards: Towards Disaster Resilient Societies Second Edition

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  • Edited by Jörn Birkmann

    ISBN-13: 978-92-808-1202-2
    720 pages
    United Nations University Press
    December 2013

    “Climate change adaptation”, “building resilience” and “vulnerability and risk reduction” are noble words, but do we really know what is meant by these terms and how to assess their respective progress? This book seeks to address these questions.

    The world has recently experienced disasters of a magnitude rarely seen before: the cascading disaster in Japan, the earthquake in Haiti, and floods in Pakistan and Australia are a few prominent examples. These major disasters underline the fact that many communities and world regions are still vulnerable to extreme events and natural hazards. Additionally, creeping changes, such as sea level rise, are emerging pressures in the context of climate change. These changes are very likely to seriously affect livelihoods in many regions. The dynamic and complex interaction between vulnerable communities, and climate- and non-climate-related, sudden-onset and creeping hazards will most likely increase the risk of crises and disasters in the future.

    Following the popularity of the first edition, this volume has been completely revised and fully updated. This new edition includes the dimension of adaptation to climate change and new risks resulting from climate change. It combines practical examples from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe with theoretical and conceptual frameworks. It is key reading for all those interested in improving risk reduction and adaptation strategies to extreme events and gradual changes in the context of climate change and natural hazards.

    About the Editor:

    Jörn Birkmann is an Academic Officer and Head of the Vulnerability Assessment, Risk Management and Adaptive Planning Section at the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS).

    Table of Contents:

    Introduction , Jakob Rhyner

    Part I: Basic principles and theoretical basis
    Measuring vulnerability to promote disaster-resilient societies and to enhance adaptation: Conceptual frameworks and definitions, Jörn Birkmann
    Data, indicators and criteria for measuring vulnerability: Theoretical bases and requirements, Jörn Birkmann

    Part II: Vulnerability and environmental change

    • Environmental components of vulnerability, Fabrice G. Renaud
    • Crafting integrated early warning information systems: The case of drought, Roger S. Pulwarty and James P. Verdin
    • Archetypical patterns of vulnerability to environmental change: An approach to bridging scales. Lessons learned from UNEP’s Fourth Global Environment Outlook, Marcel T.J. Kok and Jill Jäger

    Part III: Global, national and sub-national assessment approaches

    • Review of global risk index projects: conclusions for sub-national and local approaches, Mark Pelling
    • The Global Risk Analysis for the 2009 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction, Pascal Peduzzi
    • Disaster risk hotspots: A project summary, Maxx Dilley
    • The WorldRiskIndex: A concept for the assessment of risk and vulnerability at global/national scales,
    • Torsten Welle, Jörn Birkmann, Dunja Krause, Dora C. Suarez, Neysa J. Setiadi and Jan Wolfertz
    • System of indicators of disaster risk and risk management for the Americas: Recent updating and application of the IDB–IDEA, Omar D. Cardona and Martha L. Carreño
    • Multi-risk and vulnerability assessment of Europe’s regions, Stefan Greiving
    • The evolution of the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI), Susan L. Cutter and Daniel P. Morath
    • Disaster vulnerability assessment: The Tanzania experience, Robert B. Kiunsi and Manoris Victor Meshack
    • Assessment of vulnerability to natural hazards and climate change in mountain environments, Stefan Schneiderbauer, Marc Zebisch, Steve Kass and Lydia Pedoth

    Part IV: Local vulnerability assessment

    • Community-based risk index: Pilot implementation in Indonesia, Christina Bollin and Ria Hidajat
    • Mapping vulnerability – Integration of GIScience and participatory approaches at the local and district levels, Stefan Kienberger
    • Vulnerability assessment: The sector approach, Juan Carlos Villagrán de León
    • Self-assessment of coping capacity: Participatory, proactive and qualitative engagement of communities in their own risk management, Ben Wisner

    Part V: Institutional capacities, public sector vulnerability and dynamics of vulnerability

    • Assessing institutionalized capacities and practices to reduce the risks of flood disaster, Louis Lebel, Elena Nikitina, Vladimir Kotov and Jesse Manuta
    • Public sector fiscal vulnerability to disasters: The IIASA CATSIM model, Stefan Hochrainer-Stigler, Reinhard Mechler and Georg Pflug
    • Dynamics of vulnerability: Relocation in the context of natural hazards and disasters, Jörn Birkmann, Matthias Garschagen, Nishara Fernando, Vo Van Tuan, Anthony Oliver-Smith and Siri Hettige

    Conclusion, Jörn Birkmann

    Components of Risk: A comparative glossary, Katharina Marre

  • “This completely revised book is an excellent and very positive addition to the scientific literature on disaster risk reduction. The strategic connections with climate change adaptation are very timely and comprehensive.”

    Gordon McBean, Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, University of Western Ontario and Chair, Science Committee, Integrated Research on Disaster Risk Programme

    “Jörn Birkmann has assembled a coherent volume that reports on the state of thinking and implementing vulnerability assessments worldwide and also critically examines the assessment tools implemented. This book should be the regular companion for all those whose work demands knowledge of vulnerability.”

    John Handmer, Geographer and Director of the Centre for Risk and Community Safety, RMIT University, Melbourne