To take proper action against the effects of climate change, the researchers say it is important to know which regions are most at risk. Only then can governments and NGOs prepare adequately. Researchers Jeroen Smits and Janine Huisman of the Global Data Lab have therefore developed a new climate index, the GDL Vulnerability Index. This index expresses the socio-economic vulnerability of an area as a single figure (the GVI value), which can be compared over a longer period of time and between countries. In this way, trends become clearly visible: which regions are taking steps to address risks, and which regions are lagging behind?
“It is important that we not only focus on climate data, but that we also correlate this with data about people living in the region. This allows us to better determine which factors make the regions vulnerable or protect them against climate change, and to create more targeted policies,” says Janine Huisman, one of the researchers affiliated with the Global Data Lab.
“The Global Data Lab’s database provides information at the regional level on education, inequality, infrastructure, the quality of the drinking water, the position of women, and all kinds of other factors that may lead to a more or less vulnerable position.”
The index can be accessed for free on the Global Data Lab website, and it is suitable for experts and organisations as well as for the wider public interested in socio-economic trends. Huisman: “This includes other researchers, for example, but also journalists who can use this information as a dataset for follow-up research and background stories. The GVI values will soon also become available at a sub-national level, so that visitors can look at differences between regions within one country.”
The website not only shows the GVI values for the period from 2000 to 2020, but also projections up to 2100. These projections are drawn up using something known as Shared Socioeconomic Pathways, or SSPs. Huisman: “These are descriptions developed within the international climate community of different combinations of climate change opportunities and threats. For example, you can compare what will happen if all countries fully embrace renewable options in the coming years, or if, on the contrary, they continue to generate energy in traditional ways.” Smits and Huisman are currently working on a paper detailing the development of the GVI.