Vulnerability Sourcebook/ Risk Supplement

Vulnerability Sourcebook / Risk Assessment

The GIZ Vulnerability Sourcebook (2014) offers a conceptual framework and step-by-step guidelines for standardised assessments of vulnerability to climate change. It serves as a valuable tool for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of adaptation by showing whether a reduction in vulnerability has really been achieved. Published in 2014, it has since been widely put to use for vulnerability assessments in the framework of climate change adaptation planning from the local to the national level.

The Fifth IPCC Assessment Report (AR5) replaced the previous concept of vulnerability with the concept of risk of climate change impacts. This risk concept has been adopted from the approach and practices of risk assessment in the disaster risk reduction community. To bridge the gap between the two concepts, a Risk Supplement (2017) has been developed in 2017, which provides practical guidance on how to apply the Vulnerability Sourcebook’s approach using the AR5 risk concept. Going beyond the comparison already presented in the Vulnerability Sourcebook, it introduces the terminology of the AR5 risk concept and clarifies its implications for the Vulnerability Sourcebook methodology.

The Vulnerability Sourcebook is structured along eight modules which provide detailed guidance on the operationalisation of a vulnerability assessment.


A key element is the development of impact chains building on the approach developed by Germany’s ‘Vulnerability Network’ for assessing domestic vulnerability across different sectors at various administrative levels in Germany. The structure of the Risk Supplement mirrors this structure and for each module the necessary changes in the approach are explained.

Since the AR5 concept corresponds with the most recent IPCC report and is more consistent with other risk concepts, such as disaster risk, we generally recommend using the new AR5 concept.

In the following two cases, however, we recommend to use the AR4 concept:

  • Monitoring and Evaluation: If you have already applied the Vulnerability Sourcebook and intend to directly compare, monitor or evaluate this baseline assessment.
  • Familiarity or preference: If the commissioner or end-users of the assessment have a clear preference for the AR4 concept or if the key experts to conduct and support the study are more familiar with the AR4 concept.

To download the Vulnerability Sourcebook and Risk Supplement please click on the following links:

Supporting Documents:

The Vulnerability Sourcebook is also available in Spanish:

The Vulnerability Sourcebook is also available in French:

The Risk Supplement to the Vulnerability Sourcebook is also available in Arabic:

During the development of the Risk Supplement, several researchers and practitioners were consulted and the methodology was applied to real-world examples. Nonetheless, given the highly diverse applications and contexts of risk assessments, we warmly welcome any comments and lessons learned from applying the AR5 r