Climate Change Vulnerability

Nov 25th, 2011 | By | Category: Climate Change

A major new mapping study analyzing climate change vulnerability down to 25 square kilometers worldwide reveals that some of the world’s fastest growing populations are increasingly at risk from the impacts of climate-related natural hazards and sea level rise.

The Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) released by risk analysis and mapping firm Maplecroft analyzes the exposure of 193 countries to climate-related hazards including each population’s sensitivity and ability to respond to potential impacts.

At a national level, the CCVI rates 30 countries as “extreme risk,” with the top ten comprising

  • Haiti
  • Bangladesh
  • Zimbabwe
  • Sierra Leone
  • Madagascar
  • Cambodia
  • Mozambique
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Malawi
  • the Philippines


Vulnerability of Regions and Fast-Growing Cities

The value of Maplecroft’s research is much better appreciated at a sub-national level, where risks to towns, cities, economic zones and individual company assets can be identified through interactive maps that chart vulnerability, exposure, and sensitivity to climate change down to 25 square kilometers. For example, extreme vulnerability hotpots can be seen in southwest Brazil and the coastal regions of China although both countries are rated “medium risk” at the national level by the CCVI.

Vulnerability on this scale is illustrated particularly well when looking at the effects of climate change on the megacities of Asia, some of which have the highest rates of population growth and extreme vulnerability to climate change.

Of the world’s 20 fastest growing cities, six have been classified as “extreme risk”

  • Calcutta, India
  • Manila, the Philippines
  • Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Chittagong, Bangladesh
  • Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Manila alone is expected to grow by more than 2 million residents, an increase of nearly 20 percent, between 2010 and 2020. It is particularly at risk of flooding and typhoon activity, having the highest exposure to these events out of the twenty growth cities. 

Ten cities were rated as “high risk” including

  • Guangdong, China
  • Mumbai, India
  • Delhi, India
  • Chennai, India
  • Karachi, Pakistan
  • Lagos. Nigeria


Socio-economic Factors Magnify Climate Risks

According to Maplecroft, population growth in these cities combines with poor government effectiveness, corruption, poverty and other socio-economic factors to increase the risks to residents and businesses. Infrastructure systems that are insufficient to cope with current populations will become even more strained in the future making disaster response less effective. This could have far-reaching implications for local economies, buildings, transportation routes, water and energy supplies, and public health.

According to Dr. Charlie Beldon, Principal Environmental Analyst at Maplecroft, the combined impact of climate change vulnerability and social impacts “could have far reaching consequences, not only for local populations, but on business, national economies and on the balance sheets of investors around the world, particularly as the economic importance of these nations is set to dramatically increase.” 

The wisdom of Dr. Beldon’s words is shown in recent events such as the widespread flooding in Thailand in October 2011, which disrupted the global supply chain for computer hard disk drives, or the tsunami in Japan in March 2011, which is still impacting global automobile manufacturing in some areas.


About Maplecroft

Maplecroft is a leading source of global risk analysis. They research, index, and map over 500 risks and issues to identify exposures and opportunities in both countries and companies. Maplecroft’s products and services are a vital resource for businesses and investors requiring analysis and insight into complex political, economic, social and environmental risks.

The Climate Change Vulnerability Index forms a central part of Maplecroft’s Climate Change and Environmental Risk Atlas 2012. The Atlas provides analysis of the key risks to business in the areas of climate change vulnerability and adaption; emissions and energy use; environmental regulation; and ecosystem services.

Photograph: Pine Tree on the Cliff by Vladimir Fofanov, Moscow, Russia. 

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