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Vulnerability Frameworks

Multiple Authors

This page shows an exercise developed for a short course on adaptation for the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Network for Asia. It compiles a series of vulnerability frameworks which participants were asked to look at and discuss. This exercise is important, because it is essential for participants to have a shared knowledge base, working language and analytical notation for the rest of the exercises that will take place over the week of the course. Please see below the objectives and instructions for this exercise. A set of definitions and proposed nomenclature are also included for you reference at the end of this page.


The objectives of this exercise are:

  • To introduce the range of definitions of vulnerability
  • To look at range of methods in vulnerability assessment
  • To consider ways to apply vulnerability assessment

What to do

Please look at the different frameworks below, and for each one try to answer the following questions:

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of this framework?
  • What are the core concepts?
  • What is the level of complexity and explanation?
  • How is dynamic vulnerability portrayed?
  • What are the implications for practical applications?

What happens after?

After discussing the different vulnerability frameworks, we will conduct a vulnerability assessment exercise. This assessment will be based on a Vulnerability Exposure Matrix, which provides a starting point for determining which livelihoods are most vulnerable to different types of climatic hazards and the degree to which different livelihood activities are impacted by different climate hazards. By ranking hazards according to their level of impact one is able to prioritise the key climate hazard(s) to address. A sound vulnerability assessment process is fundamental to ensure that climate change is appropriately taken into account in development planning and decision-making processes. The type of information needed about the climate hazard can be communicated to climate experts, who can then provide the current climate data and the range of future values, both directly relevant to vulnerability and exposure to hazards. Vulnerability information can be used to plan adaptation options, by responding to the projected climate trends, whilst accounting for the degree of uncertainty associated with future projections and iterative socio-economic behavior.

Framework 1: Definitions of hazard, vulnerability, risk and disasters

Framework 2: Causal chain of hazard development

Source: after Downing (1991, see also Millman and Kates 1990).

Framework 3: Vulnerability and capability

Source: Anderson and Woodrow (1989)

Framework 4: Three dimensions of vulnerability

Source: after Bohle et al. (1994)

Framework 5: Progression of Vulnerability

Structure of vulnerability and disasters. Source: Blaikie et al. (1994).

Framework 6: Environmental Vulnerability

Source: Kasperson, et al.

Framework 7: Outcome and Contextual Vulnerability

Source: O’Brien, 2007

Framework 8: End point and starting-point interpretation

Source: Fussel, 2007

Framework 9: Vulnerability interactions and feedbacks

Source: Carter et al. (2001)


Related Pages

Vulnerability Definitions

Short Course on Adaptation

Related resources

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