“I’ve read the indicator description of the (Hot Periods) that is a risk to Canada, but don’t quite understand, I mean most of the warming happens in winter and other nations that are really susceptible to extreme heat events like China and Russia aren’t mentioned in hot periods risk, would you please clarify? Thank you.”
In the context of vulnerability, it is not ‘normal’ conditions that are of concern, but extreme events. Indicator No.4 (like all the weather-related indicators: 1,2,3,5,6) looks at how often and by how much deviations from ‘usual’ conditions occur. This is expressed as average annual excess heat (degrees) over the past 5 years for all days more than 5°C hotter than the 30 year mean monthly maximum, averaged over all reference climate stations. This indicator captures not only the number of days with significantly higher temperatures, but also the amount of the excess.
This captures vulnerability related to periods of high temperatures that can lead to interactive effects on productivity, oxygen levels, pollution, reproduction and symbiotic relationships and lead to mass mortality, stress on water resources, fires, desertification etc. Frequent and severe hot days over the past 5 years could also indicate shifts in weather patterns and climate, and could negatively affect a country’s resilience to other hazards (e.g. ability of forests to regenerate if disturbed by human or other factors).
Two countries could have the same number of days with more than 5°C higher temperatures than the monthly average, with one only having a small excess, while another a very large one – the structure of this indicator identifies these differences and the different vulnerabilities that could ensue.
If I have understood your question correctly, the reason other countries are not found to be as vulnerable is because their deviations from usual conditions are less. That is, it is more usual to have the hot periods, even if overall they are considered cool countries. Because of that their environments are less likely to be vulnerable to damage as their hot periods are built in to the ‘normal’ conditions (defined by the running 30 year mean) for that country.
Manual: How to Use the EVI
The manual is for people and organisations wishing to better understand the issue of environmental vulnerability and resilience as a basis for ensuring sustainable development through the application of the Environmental Vulnerability Index (EVI). This manual provides a guide on how to generate EVI values for countries and for specific management areas and will be of value to non-profit organisations, community development and economic development organisations, and state and local government officials.
The purpose of this manual is to increase understanding of environmental vulnerability and resilience issues primarily at the national level. It provides a tool for initiating or furthering projects that focus on specific environmental management issues. It is hoped that those who use this manual, will be able to develop an understanding of environmental vulnerability and resilience, the Environmental Vulnerability Index, how to generate an EVI and apply the results obtained.
To be able to calculate an EVI requires the compilation of relevant environmental vulnerability data for the 50 indicators. Once compiled then this data must be used to calculate each indicator. As the indicators are heterogeneous, include variables for which responses are numerical, qualitative and on different scales (linear, non-linear, or with different ranges) they are mapped onto a 1 – 7 vulnerability scale. Where data is not available, no value is given for the indicator and the denominator of the average adjusted down by one value. Where an indicator is considered ‘non- applicable’ in a country (such as volcanic eruptions in Tuvalu which has no volcanoes), the lowest vulnerability score of 1 is attributed to that indicator. The vulnerability scores for each indicator are then accumulated either into categories or sub-indices and the average calculated. An overall average of all indicators is calculated to generate the country EVI. The EVI is accumulated into three sub-indices:
The 50 EVI indicators are also divided up in the issue categories for use as required:
Agriculture and fisheries
Human health aspects
Exposure to natural disasters
Vulnerability scores for each EVI indicator are then presented graphically. The profile gives an immediate visual representation of what the most important vulnerability issues are for the environment. Clearly this provides a simple tool for identifying the most significant vulnerability issues and helps to explain priority issues to the non-scientist.
The Environmental Vulnerability Index (EVI) is an indicators-based method which has been developed in partnership by SOPAC, UNEP, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, and Norway in collaboration with the Alliance of Small Island Developing States (AOSIS), Small Island Developing States (SIDS) institutions and experts. The EVI was developed in response to a call made in the 1994 Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States to prepare a composite vulnerability index that incorporated both economic and ecological concerns. The EVI concentrates on measuring ecological vulnerability and seeks to support other vulnerability indices initiatives, including the economic vulnerability index and a soon-to-be developed social vulnerability index, as part of the global move towards determining how development could be achieved sustainably.
The EVI model can be used to quantify the vulnerability of the natural environment to damage from natural and anthropogenic hazards at national scales. It is the first global attempt to develop such an ecological index. The EVI will support decision-makers by providing a pragmatic approach that will enable them to ‘see’ the problem, as well as identify actions that could be taken to manage vulnerability and protect or build environmental resilience of a country.
Purpose of the Meeting
The purpose of the meeting was to assemble a small group of internationally recognised scientists to examine the EVI and its indicators in order to obtain critique on its design and function and seek recommendations for refinements to improve the EVI and its robustness. The Think Tank was run between the dates of 4 – 6 October 2004 at the SOPAC Secretariat, Suva, Fiji. The overall aims of the Think Tank were to:
- Obtain peer-review and commentary from experts
- Obtain constructive technical inputs to improve the EVI to make it acceptable and/or operational in the international community
- Provide expert reference towards the setting and justification of sustainable thresholds of EVI indicators
- Outline an action plan for future international research and work towards sustainable thresholds and indicators that will help in steering the international community towards sustainability
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