Development of an ISO standard for Vulnerability Assessments


Comprehensive and successful adaptation to the impacts of climate change is one of the central global challenges of our time. Vulnerability assessments at the national, regional and municipal levels, for key fields and sectors such as the environment, health, agriculture, as well as for the private sector, are of increasing importance in dealing with possible damage caused by climate change. Vulnerability assessments already play an important role in the establishment of climate change adaptation strategies (National Adaptation Plans, NAP). The NAP process, launched in 2010 as part of the UNFCCC Cancun Adaptation Framework, were carried over into the 2015 Paris Convention.

At present, there are already numerous approaches to vulnerability assessments that can be used to examine different types of climatic trends, threats and impacts caused by climate change in rural and urban structures. What is missing, however, is a uniform approach that allows different actors to proceed consistently on the basis of internationally agreed procedures. For this reason, adelphi is supporting the Federal Environment Agency in the development of a standardized approach to vulnerability assessment, which aims:

  1. to treat various sectors and topics (e.g. water, agriculture, fisheries, the environment, and ecosystems),
  2. to be applicable in different spaces (local, regional, national),
  3. to be able to be applied by both state and private organisations, and
  4. to be able to adequately account for different timespans (e.g. climatic stimuli in the present, [potential] climate impacts and adaptation capacities in the near and distant futures).  

The goal of the project is to develop application-oriented standards for preparing and carrying out vulnerability assessments in practice. It is to take into account the predominant challenges and opportunities facing countries in the global south to the same extent that it does this for western industrialised countries. 

In addition to drafting proposals for a standardized approach, adelphi is also acting on the chair of the committee responsible for creating the standards at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the global association of national standardization agencies.