A review of vulnerability indicators for deltaic social–ecological systems

Sebesvari, Zita, Renaud, Fabrice G., Haas, Susanne, Tessler, Zachary, Hagenlocher, Michael, Kloos, Julia, Szabo, Sylvia, Tejedor, Alejandro and Kuenzer, Claudia, (2016). A review of vulnerability indicators for deltaic social–ecological systems. Sustainability Science, (Special Feature), 1-16

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  • Sub-type Journal article
    Author Sebesvari, Zita
    Renaud, Fabrice G.
    Haas, Susanne
    Tessler, Zachary
    Hagenlocher, Michael
    Kloos, Julia
    Szabo, Sylvia
    Tejedor, Alejandro
    Kuenzer, Claudia
    Title A review of vulnerability indicators for deltaic social–ecological systems
    Appearing in Sustainability Science
    Issue No. Special Feature
    Publication Date 2016-05-03
    Place of Publication Tokyo, Japan
    Publisher Springer Japan
    Start page 1
    End page 16
    Language eng
    Abstract The sustainability of deltas worldwide is under threat due to the consequences of global environmental change (including climate change) and human interventions in deltaic landscapes. Understanding these systems is becoming increasingly important to assess threats to and opportunities for long-term sustainable development. Here, we propose a simplified, yet inclusive social–ecological system (SES)-centered risk and vulnerability framework and a list of indicators proven to be useful in past delta assessments. In total, 236 indicators were identified through a structured review of peer-reviewed literature performed for three globally relevant deltas—the Mekong, the Ganges–Brahmaputra–Meghna and the Amazon. These are meant to serve as a preliminary “library” of potential indicators to be used for future vulnerability assessments. Based on the reviewed studies, we identified disparities in the availability of indicators to populate some of the vulnerability domains of the proposed framework, as comprehensive social–ecological assessments were seldom implemented in the past. Even in assessments explicitly aiming to capture both the social and the ecological system, there were many more indicators for social susceptibility and coping/adaptive capacities as compared to those relevant for characterizing ecosystem susceptibility or robustness. Moreover, there is a lack of multi-hazard approaches accounting for the specific vulnerability profile of sub-delta areas. We advocate for more comprehensive, truly social–ecological assessments which respond to multi-hazard settings and recognize within-delta differences in vulnerability and risk. Such assessments could make use of the proposed framework and list of indicators as a starting point and amend it with new indicators that would allow capturing the complexity as well as the multi-hazard exposure in a typical delta SES.
    UNBIS Thesaurus DELTAS
    Keyword Sustainable Deltas
    Social-ecological systems
    Vulnerability assessment frameworks
    Indicators
    Multiple hazards
    Copyright Holder Springer Japan
    Copyright Year 2016
    Copyright type All rights reserved
    ISSN 18624065
    DOI 10.1007/s11625-016-0366-4
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    Created: Mon, 16 May 2016, 18:32:58 JST by Sijia Yi on behalf of UNU EHS