Vulnerability Assessment in Quang Binh
As part of applying the Vulnerability Assessment for Socio-Ecological Systems (VASES) approach in Quang Binh province, vulnerability assessments for ecosystem-based adaptation were conducted at both macro and micro levels, and based on their findings, ecosystem-based adaptation measures could be identified as stand-alone responses or complementary sets of possibilities for hardware-based/infrastructure-based measures to climate change adaptation.
The main objectives of the vulnerability assessment were to analyse all components of vulnerability (exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity); to provide data and recommendations for decision-making on introducing the EbA concept into provincial policies and planning processes; and to provide recommendations for first practical EbA measures in selected ecosystems on the ground.
Macro level (or provincial level) assessment is a top-down approach that involves the comprehensive, province-wide study of socio-economic and ecological systems in the context of climate change. It includes different steps varying from scoping the context of climate change, identifying socio-ecological systems and key economic assets, vulnerability assessments of socio-ecological systems and key economic assets, and finally singling out EbA options and other adaptation options at provincial level. Among others, the provincial level vulnerability assessment helps to point out prioritized socio-ecological systems for further study at village level.
Micro level (or village level) assessment is a bottom-up approach that is carried out at one or several selected socio-ecological systems, using participatory tools.
A similar approach as indicated in the provincial VA study is applied for this village level VA study.
Participatory planning is carried out to identify site-specific EbA solutions to respond to climate change impacts.
In the section below, brief introductions to the ecological, social, economic, socio-ecological and climatic profiles that were created as part of the macro level VA in Quang Binh are provided. These profiles constitute a major part of the vulnerability assessment report of the province.
Most of the profiles are based on data from a site that was visited during a scoping mission, and was selected due to its high vulnerability scores.
Provincial Level Vulnerability Assessment Quang Binh – The Profiles
1. Social profile
The impacts of climate change are felt by people – in their health, their housing, their social life, infrastructure and services they rely on, the natural resources they depend on, and in other ways related to their livelihoods. The social profile for Quang Binh therefore focuses its analysis on people, asking which groups are most vulnerable and why. In this context, vulnerability can be understood as:
“The state of individuals, groups or communities in terms of their ability to cope with and adapt to any external stress placed on their livelihoods and well-being. It is determined by
- The availability of resources and; crucially,
- By the entitlement of individuals and groups to call on these resources.”
(Adger and Kelly 1999)
The profile essentially examines the social context for EbA in Quang Binh, highlighting the information that provincial departments should keep Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and Ecosystem-based Adaptation( EbA) in mind in analysing and planning processes. It also elaborates on the key social parameters used in this study to develop and describe the Socio-Ecological Systems (SESs).
2. Ecological profile
The ecological profile of Quang Binh Province focuses on the ecosystems of Quang Binh, detailing which types of ecosystems are present, how much there is of them, and what condition are they in. It also identifies those ecosystems which may be critical for supporting livelihoods and the economy in the face of climate change, and identifies to some extent how the ecosystems themselves are vulnerable to climate change. This profile examines the ecological dimensions of EbA in Quang Binh, including the contextual information at the provincial level that any provincial department should keep in mind in analysing and planning for CCA or EbA.
This profile also examines the key parameters used in the study to develop and describe different types of SES found in the province. This Ecological Profile is based on a review of existing data made available to the study by the different departments of the provincial government, as well as through more general literature review.
3. Economic profile
The economic profile of Quang Binh identifies the main sectors of the provincial economy considering a variety of aspects including contribution to GDP, employment generated, and future development direction etc. as well as dependence on natural resources, linked to climate change. It does not attempt to present a full economic profile of Quang Binh. The study is intended to use only secondary dataand, while many interesting and relevant questions could be posed at provincial level, there are only a limited number of economic factors that are relevant to the discussion and for which sufficiently comprehensive data already exists. Defining the economic profile needs to be understood as a scoping exercise, with the objective of identifying the most important and historically most vulnerable economic activities and assets at provincial level. These most vulnerable entities should form the basis for the definition of socio-ecological systems and should be prioritised in the vulnerability assessment.
4. Socio-ecological systems profile
The SESprofile of Quang Binh takes the information from the preceding profiles in order to develop and present a classification of the main SESs for Quang Binh. This profile presents the methods and outcomes of the work on SES carried out under the macro-level assessment for EbA in Quang Binh province, involving four main steps:
- Identification of SESs
- Mapping of SESs
- Prioritisation of SESs
- Profiling of SESs
5. Climate and climate-related disaster profile
This profile provides information on the current climate of Quang Binh, and the history of climate-related hazards and disasters that the province has already faced for many years. It identifies the districts and communes of the province that are most affected by different types of disasters, and provides details on the type and amount of damages caused. Finally, it recommends priority geographic and thematic areas for ecosystem-based interventions in Disaster Risk Reduction (Eb-DRR) and climate-change adaptation (EbA) based on the analysis provided.
6. Expected climate change impacts in Quang Binh
This profile looks at likely future climate changes and their potential impact on Quang Binh at the province-wide level. It starts out by firstly explaining the rationale for focusing on a certain set of parameters as measuring entities of climate change, when looking at it from a vulnerability assessment- and ecosystem-based adaptation perspective, and then presents possible scenarios for Quang Binh. The chapter discusses the likely impacts and implications of those changes, with a main focus on the sectors of agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, as well as on the natural ecosystems that are providers of important ecosystem services. More superficial treatment is generally given to climate change impacts on urban and rural settlements and infrastructure.
Without significant, concerted and continuous investments and efforts to address the key issues above, overall climate change is likely to slow down economic growth and to negatively affect quality of life in Quang Binh. Natural resources will be more degraded, food production will be reduced, and the impacts of natural disasters will be magnified. The coastal and rural poor (including ethnic minorities in upland areas) with livelihoods most dependent on natural resources will be the most vulnerable to these changes. In the worst case scenario, recent gains in poverty alleviation may be reversed. Consequently, labour migration, which is already significant, may continue to increase, and social problems may become more prevalent. These issues must be given serious attention before it is too late.
7. Adaptive capacity
This chapter discusses an important element in the vulnerability to climate change equation – adaptive capacity – and presents an overview of it at the provincial level in Quang Binh. The profile begins with a brief review of key concepts relating to adaptive capacity. Adaptive capacity is defined in different ways, depending on the context. In relation to climate change, it has been defined as “[t]he potential or capability of a system to adapt to (to alter to better suit) climatic stimuli or their effects or impacts” (from Smit et al., 1999). For the EbA vulnerability assessments, the “system” in question, and unit of analysis, is the socio-ecological system, as shown in the figure below. The socio-ecological system concept places people at the centre of analysis. It reflects the understanding that climate change is a human issue: people are the cause of climate change, the victims of it, and human capacity to adapt to it is key for any successful approach to this challenge.
8. Overall vulnerability and EbA recommendations
The final chapter presents the overall vulnerability at provincial level, including examples of vulnerabilities of some specific SESs. It then goes on to present recommendations of selected EbA interventions – some broadly applicable across the province or across different sectors, and some more specific to each SES.
Vulnerability assessments were conducted for the top ten priority SESs in Quang Binh province. Taking into account aspects of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity, vulnerability scores were assigned for each of the seven different climate change parameters in every SES. The mean of the seven scores in each SES was taken as the overall vulnerability score for that SES. Based on the identified vulnerabilities, a total of 39 appropriate ecosystem-based and other related adaptation interventions were suggested, specifically related to each SES.
One main advantage of using the SESs as entry points for vulnerability assessments and identification of EbA interventions is that it facilitates thinking outside of traditional silos of purely social, ecological or economic issues and encourages the identification of interventions which may require collaboration between multiple agencies. Another advantage is that the scale of SESs provides a convenient intermediary step between “whole of province” and “community” scales.
Village Level Vulnerability Assessment Quang Binh
In Quang Binh, Tan Hai village – Ngu Thuy Bac commune and Ban village – Thuong Trach commune were chosen for the micro level assessment. While the first represents coastal areas, the latter typifies the uplands. The two communes are prone to impacts of climate change and extreme weather. Simultaneously however, ecosystems of these communes are still healthy enough to be able to provide EbA options that involve diverse and typical livelihood activities of the province (work in coastal areas, shifting cultivation areas, and forest product collection), despite being strongly affected by the negative impacts of climate change.