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  • Cited by 118
  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: August 2012

Chapter 2 - Determinants of Risk: Exposure and Vulnerability

from Section III


Executive Summary

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.