Working with nature to adapt
to a changing climate

Step 2: Assess vulnerability and risks

Threats to and potentials of the socio-ecological system

In order to come up with specific ecosystem-based adaptation strategies and concrete measures, one first needs to assess the risk that climate variability and changes pose to the socio-ecological system. This also includes other natural and anthropogenic stressors that affect this system. GIZ’s guidance uses the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report’s (AR5) risk concept. An emphasis lies hereby on the interdependency between societies and ecosystems, identifying both the threats to and the potential of ecosystems and their services in the context of reducing vulnerabilities and risks.

Suggested tools

Climate Risk Assessment for Ecosystem-based Adaptation – a guidebook for planners and practitioners. Developed by GIZ in collaboration with Eurac Research and United Nations University – Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS). This guidebook helps planners and practitioners in designing and implementing climate risk assessments in the context of Ecosystem-based Adaptation projects. It provides a standardized approach to assess risks within social-ecological systems based on two application examples (river basin and coastal zone management) by following the methodology of the GIZ vulnerability sourcebook (GIZ, 2014) and its Risk Supplement (GIZ and EURAC, 2017). It helps to improve adaptation planning by considering both ecosystem-based and other adaptation options in the form of integrated ‘adaptation packages’. It includes the following modules: 1) Preparing the risk assessment; 2) Developing impact chains; 3) Identifying and selecting indicators for risk components; 4-7) From data acquisition to risk assessment; 8) Presenting and interpreting the outcomes of the risk assessment 9) Identifying adaptation options. The guidebook can be applied at different stages of adaptation planning, from initial baseline assessments to repeated assessments in the implementation or Monitoring and Evaluation phase.

MARISCO (acronym of the Spanish name for the approach: Manejo Adaptativo de RIesgo y vulnerabilidad en Sitios de COnservación – adaptive risk and vulnerability management at conservation sites) was developed by the Centre for Economics and Ecosystem Management at Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development. It is the result of projects and workshops carried out in several countries, including China, Costa Rica, Germany, Guatemala, Peru and Ukraine. A number of these projects are implemented by GIZ on behalf of the Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development /BMZ and the Ministry of Environment/BMU. While other scientific approaches to vulnerability assessments focus on prediction models based on biophysical data, MARISCO integrates both scientific data and information of other stakeholders, such as indigenous groups. It is derived from the Conservation Measures Partnership Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation.