Social vulnerability:Different scales, different dimensions

  • Christoph Aubrecht (Vortragender, eingeladen)
  • Sergio Freire (Autor, eingeladen)
  • Christoph Elvidge (Autor, eingeladen)
  • Alexander de Sherbinin (Autor, eingeladen)
  • Stephanie Wegscheider (Autor, eingeladen)
  • Steinnocher, K. (Autor, eingeladen)

Aktivität: Vortrag ohne Tagungsband / VorlesungPräsentation auf einer wissenschaftlichen Konferenz / Workshop


The concept of vulnerability is referred to in multiple facets and various disciplines, and despite intensive research efforts during recent years no universally accepted definition of vulnerability exists. Particularly the climate change and disaster risk reduction research communities often operate on separate lines. Vulnerability describing the status of a society with respect to an imposed hazard or potential impact is considered a strongly multidisciplinary concept and comprises various dimensions such as social, cultural, environmental and physical. A central objective of vulnerability assessment is to provide indications where, how and in which way people - and more specifically, what kind of people - might be affected by a certain impact including its aftermath. Results should provide decision- and policy-makers with supporting information to target response and mitigation actions adequately. The mere incidence of a natural event does not necessarily cause negative effects, e.g. wildfires are actually an important factor for ecosystem stability and recurring flooding often benefits riparian forests and agricultural areas. The same applies to altered environmental conditions related to climate change. The term disaster or even impact should thus not be used until social systems are negatively affected, including human beings and associated assets (i.e. economic, infrastructural). This is where the concept of vulnerability comes into play, being defined by a set of interrelating input factors including exposure and sensitivity, initial coping capacity and social response of a system. For assessment of the social dimension of vulnerability, population exposure mapping forms an important part and is usually considered the starting point. Integration of social structure (e.g. health, age, etc.) and varying aspects of resilience would then further differentiate situation-specific vulnerability patterns on a local scale. In a disaster risk management context, assessment of human vulnerability has generally been lagging behind hazard analysis efforts. Accurately estimating population exposure is a key component of catastrophe loss modeling, one element of effective integrated risk analysis and emergency management. In the long term, it has been recognized that global environmental change will influence hazard types, magnitudes, and even the frequency of occurrence. There is a major interest in the assessment and management of future risks, including social and societal components (i.e., social vulnerability), making this issue one of the hottest topics in integrative analysis of complex human-natural coupled systems. This talk will provide an overview of concepts and applications in the social vulnerability domain, highlighting the varying scales and dimensions and the related implications that need to be considered in that context. This comprises population exposure mapping from local to global scales, as well as addressing short-term and long-term temporal aspects including global (climate) change. Social vulnerability is of considerable importance in all stages of integrated disaster risk management. Examples will thus not only be given in relation to the risk assessment phase, but also in the context of first-response actions, focusing on follow-up applications such as evacuation modeling, as well as pre-event planning and prevention.
Zeitraum14 Juli 201116 Juli 2011
EreignistitelIDRIM 2011 - Second Annual Conference of the International Society for Integrated Disaster Risk Management

Research Field

  • Ehemaliges Research Field - Innovation Systems and Policy
  • Ehemaliges Research Field - Energy


  • spatial dimensions
  • exposure
  • global change
  • temporal aspects
  • vulnerability