Determinants of risk: Exposure and vulnerability

Omar Dario Cardona*, Maarten K. Van Aalst, Jörn Birkmann, Maureen Fordham, Glenn Mc Gregor, Perez Rosa, Roger S. Pulwarty, E. Lisa F. Schipper, Bach Tan Sinh, Henri Décamps, Mark Keim, Ian Davis, Kristie L. Ebi, Allan Lavell, Reinhard Mechler, Virginia Murray, Mark Pelling, Jürgen Pohl, Anthony Oliver Smith, Frank Thomalla

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

638 Citations (Scopus)


The severity of the impacts of extreme and non-extreme weather and climate events depends strongly on the level of vulnerability and exposure to these events (high confidence). [2.2.1, 2.3, 2.5] Trends in vulnerability and exposure are major drivers of changes in disaster risk, and of impacts when risk is realized (high confidence). [2.5] Understanding the multi-faceted nature of vulnerability and exposure is a prerequisite for determining how weather and climate events contribute to the occurrence of disasters, and for designing and implementing effective adaptation and disaster risk management strategies. [2.2, 2.6] Vulnerability and exposure are dynamic, varying across temporal and spatial scales, and depend on economic, social, geographic, demographic, cultural, institutional, governance, and environmental factors (high confidence). [2.2, 2.3, 2.5] Individuals and communities are differentially exposed and vulnerable and this is based on factors such as wealth, education, race/ethnicity/religion, gender, age, class/caste, disability, and health status. [2.5] Lack of resilience and capacity to anticipate, cope with, and adapt to extremes and change are important causal factors of vulnerability. [2.4] Extreme and non-extreme weather and climate events also affect vulnerability to future extreme events, by modifying the resilience, coping, and adaptive capacity of communities, societies, or social-ecological systems affected by such events (high confidence). [2.4.3] At the far end of the spectrum – low-probability, highintensity events – the intensity of extreme climate and weather events and exposure to them tend to be more pervasive in explaining disaster loss than vulnerability in explaining the level of impact.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationManaging the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation
Subtitle of host publicationSpecial Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages44
ISBN (Electronic)9781139177245
ISBN (Print)9781107025066
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


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