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Risk and vulnerability indicators at different scales: Applicability, usefulness and policy implications

Author(s): Birkmann J

Abstract

This paper outlines selected approaches to measuring risk and vulnerability to hazards of natural origin using indicators and indices. It discusses their applicability, usefulness and policy implications. Indicators and indices have been developed on different scales and for different purposes. The paper will briefly introduce three global approaches to disaster-risk identification and will juxtapose them with one local approach in order to examine the differences concerning the functions and the purpose of the assessment as well as their impact for policy development. In contrast to an earlier comparative analysis of the three global disaster-risk indicator programmes by Mark Pelling in 2004, which focused primarily on the methodologies used, this paper places more emphasis on aspects of applicability and policy implications and outlines challenges and limitations of the different approaches. Since the assessment and mapping of human vulnerability is less developed than hazard assessment work [Pelling M., 2004. Visions of Risk: A Review of International Indicators of Disaster Risk and its Management. UNDP—Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BRCP), Geneva], this paper focuses in greater depth on how the approaches capture vulnerability. Conclusions will be formulated on how to further enhance vulnerability identification, particularly at the sub-national level.

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