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A new method for analysing socio-ecological patterns of vulnerability

Article | 01-01-2015

This paper presents a method for analysing socio-ecological patterns of vulnerability of people at risk of losing their livelihoods as a consequence of global environmental change. We illustrate the application of this method by analysing the patterns of vulnerability of smallholder farmers in drylands.

Generalisation of factors that shape vulnerability

This method fills a gap in methodologies for analysing vulnerability by providing generalisations of the factors that shape vulnerability in specific socio-ecological systems and showing their spatial occurrence. The proposed method consists of four steps that include both quantitative and qualitative analyses.

Combining quantitative and qualitative analyses

First, the socio-ecological system that is exposed to the global environmental changes to be studied needs to be determined. This, for example, may concern farmers in drylands, urban populations in coastal areas or forest-dependent people in the tropics. Next, the core dimensions that shape vulnerability in that particular socio-ecological system need to be defined. Subsequently, a set of spatially explicit indicators that reflect these core dimensions is selected. Cluster analysis is used for grouping the indicator data. The resulting clusters, referred to as vulnerability profiles, describe different groupings of conditions and processes that typically create vulnerability in a particular socio-ecological system, also providing their spatial distribution. Interpretation and verification of these profiles is the final step in the analysis.

Author(s)Marcel Kok, Matthias Lüdeke, Paul Lucas, Till Sterzel, Carsten Walther, Peter Janssen, Diana Sietz, Indra de Soysa
Publication date01-01-2015
PublicationRegional Environmental Change