The Climate Risk Sourcebook utilises an extended risk framework based on the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) technical guideline for comprehensive risk assessment.
The core of the framework, as depicted in the figure below, revolves around climate risk. It defines risk as the potential for adverse consequences for human or ecological systems resulting from climate-related hazards, either independently or in combination with other hazards that can trigger cascading impacts. In addition to hazards, risk is influenced by exposure and vulnerability factors. Climate change and other underlying risk drivers can modify hazards, vulnerabilities, and exposure.
IPCC AR6 risk propeller (left, turned 90° clockwise) and the translation into a risk concept for the Climate Risk Sourcebook (right).
Climate risks are evaluated for both the current situation, based on observations, and potential future scenarios. The assessment considers a set of risk criteria that reflect the underlying objectives, targets, and values associated with the specific context. This framework supports Climate Risk Management (CRM) by facilitating risk reduction and climate change adaptation strategies.
The objectives of the four phases of a risk assessment can be described as follows.
The primary objective of a Climate Risk Assessment (CRA) is to provide information and support for CRM. It involves understanding climate risks, the drivers of these risks (including exposure and vulnerabilities), and their underlying root causes. The assessment also aims to identify the demand and entry points for Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) strategies. However, the ultimate goal of CRM is to facilitate climate-resilient development. Climate‐resilient development can be understood as integrating both CCA and mitigation decisions together, with the goal of achieving long term sustainable development.
To ensure that a CRA effectively supports CRM, it is important to identify potential options for reducing climate risks within specific contexts. These options can include both Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) measures and adaptation strategies.
Nevertheless, it is not possible to eliminate all climate-related risks. Adaptation has its limitations, reaching a threshold where the objectives or system requirements of an actor cannot be fully protected from unacceptable risks through adaptive actions. Residual risks can give rise to extensive losses and damages resulting from the impacts of climate change.
Assessing and managing climate-related risk is a highly complex and cross-cutting process that is of relevance to a diverse set of stakeholders, ranging from scientists, policy- and decision makers, practitioners, private sector representatives, NGO representatives, to citizens and most notably vulnerable groups. To ensure an inclusive approach to the CRA design, it is crucial to incorporate considerations of differential vulnerabilities and gender aspects from early on in the design phase. As far as possible, all relevant data used in a CRA should be disaggregated by gender and capture a wide range of gender identities.
Impact chains form the backbone of risk analysis in the Climate Risk Sourcebook. These chains can be constructed through a participatory approach involving experts and stakeholders. Regardless of the approach used, it is essential for impact chains to reflect the most accurate and evidence-based understanding of specific risks within a particular region and at a specific scale. Explore some example impact chains derived from the key risks of the IPCC AR6 here.
The ‘elements’ of an impact chain are addressing all components of risk drivers:
Within these impact chains, key impacts that are leading to key risks can be identified. The analysis and assessment of key impacts and key risks is one of the main objectives of a CRA. See examples of Hazard, Vulnerability and Exposure factors here.
The quality of the results of a risk assessment depends to a great extent on the quality of the data, information and knowledge for the current situation as well as for potential future situations. Considering their confidence and uncertainty is crucial.