Vulnerability and Adaptation


Flooding, storms, droughts, heat waves – all are clear forewarnings of the possible effects of climate change. It is apparent that emerging economies and developing countries are worst affected. Yet industrialised nations increasingly need to adapt to changing climatic conditions

For businesses, municipalities, cities and countries, sustainable and stable development means factoring the potential consequences of climate change and extreme weather events into strategy and planning processes. A system's vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change depends on a number of different factors. These factors are often divided into the categories of: "exposure" – the impact on shifting climate parameters such as precipitation and temperature; "sensitivity" – susceptibility resulting from such changes; and "adaptive capacity" – the potential to counteract adverse effects or take advantage of positive changes.

Vulnerability assessments offer valuable assistance in systematically investigating these factors and identifying a system's weak points. This work offers a precise understanding of the cause-and-effect relationships that underlie the adverse effects of climate change, and is vital for developing optimum adaptation strategies and measures.

Analysing vulnerability to climate change, developing adaptation strategies

Agriculture, water supply, infrastructure, tourism – all sectors are affected in different ways by climate change. The impacts are therefore best overcome by specific, individual solutions. adelphi supports public and private stakeholders in analysing their vulnerability to climate change, and in developing and implementing adaptation strategies and concrete measures: international organisations, European governments and German federal ministries, as well as businesses, associations and municipalities in emerging economies and developing countries.

adelphi offers a wide spectrum of consulting services, including: designing, planning and implementing vulnerability assessments; climate-sensitive infrastructure planning at a national level; planning and overseeing participative processes for developing adaptation measures in municipalities; and implementing adaptation strategies for businesses. In addition, adelphi analyses criteria for success and obstacles to adaptation, and is looking into the best ways to exchange knowledge and information on natural hazards and climate change in order to improve decision-making processes in risk management.

adelphi consults high-ranking policy-makers in Germany and other countries

In Germany, adelphi supports the federal government and businesses in developing strategies, and by assessing qualification measures. We design and manage awareness campaigns and websites, such as the "Competence Centre on Climate Impacts and Adaptation (KomPass)" for the Federal Environment Agency (UBA). On behalf of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), adelphi oversees learning networks where German municipalities can confer on experiences in climate protection. The think tank also coordinates the German "Vulnerability Network", which is a network of federal authorities that aims to develop a standardised approach to assessing climate impacts in order to gain an overall picture of vulnerability in Germany. The results provide a basis for advancing Germany's climate adaptation strategy.

For the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), adelphi plans and carries out a range of vulnerability assessments to support national and regional adaptation processes. In Burundi, for example, we analyse land and water resources' vulnerability to climate change. For the Arab countries, we are compiling a comparative, cross-sector vulnerability analysis that looks into the effects of climate change on water availability.

Furthermore, adelphi is actively involved in developing concrete adaptation measures in a number of regions: from coastal zone management in South Asia, and sustainable water supply in North Africa, to regional climate cooperation in South America. On behalf of the European Commission, adelphi advises municipalities in India on developing support programmes for investment in climate adaptation measures. As part of the Nile Basin Initiative, we also planned and oversaw a top-ranking regional government dialogue on governance and financing for climate adaptation on behalf of GIZ.

Selected Projects

Selected Publications