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The politics of framing risk: Minding the vulnerability gap in climate change research


  • Colette, April L.


Much of the literature on climate change has focused on the physical science basis – the biophysical elements of exposure, probability and impacts of climate hazards on people and places. In 1995, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Second Assessment Report, which moved the climate discussion beyond the analytical focus on impacts to emphasize the properties of a social system (the assets, protections, institutions, and relationships) that mediate the outcome of a hazard and influence the capacity to adapt in the face of climate events. Since then the literature on the social dimensions of climate change has burgeoned. These studies have largely been global and national in scope, but there has also been a recent expansion of literature centering on the local and regional scales spearheaded by high-profile global urban resilience initiatives, such as the United Nation’s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) Resilient Cities Campaign and the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities. While these studies have made important contributions to knowledge about how climate change may affect cities and regions by measuring vulnerability and articulating impacts, there is substantial room for new engagement. There is a clear need for more textured analyses of vulnerability to understand how risk is framed and how the framing articulates with rationale for risk reduction solutions. This paper examines two main approaches to vulnerability. It aims to generate insight on how risk is conceptualized and framed in order to open up discussions on the politics of framing risk and the possibilities for more integrative and equitable risk reduction solutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Colette, April L., 2016. "The politics of framing risk: Minding the vulnerability gap in climate change research," World Development Perspectives, Elsevier, vol. 1(C), pages 43-48.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wodepe:v:1:y:2016:i:c:p:43-48
    DOI: 10.1016/j.wdp.2016.06.003

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. J.C. Gaillard, 2010. "Vulnerability, capacity and resilience: Perspectives for climate and development policy," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(2), pages 218-232.
    2. Leach, Melissa & Mearns, Robin & Scoones, Ian, 1999. "Environmental Entitlements: Dynamics and Institutions in Community-Based Natural Resource Management," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 225-247, February.
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    4. Eric Tate, 2012. "Social vulnerability indices: a comparative assessment using uncertainty and sensitivity analysis," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 63(2), pages 325-347, September.
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    6. Arief Anshory Yusuf & Herminia Francisco, 2009. "Climate Change Vulnerability Mapping for Southeast Asia," EEPSEA Special and Technical Paper tp200901s1, Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA), revised Jan 2009.
    7. Susan L. Cutter & Bryan J. Boruff & W. Lynn Shirley, 2003. "Social Vulnerability to Environmental Hazards," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 84(2), pages 242-261.
    8. Christian Kuhlicke, 2010. "The dynamics of vulnerability: some preliminary thoughts about the occurrence of ‘radical surprises’ and a case study on the 2002 flood (Germany)," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 55(3), pages 671-688, December.
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