Archive for June, 2013


I would like to know the date/year of the last update of the EVI data? Based on your website, it appears that the last update was performed in 2005. If so, could you let me know when the next review is due?

That is correct. The last full evaluation of the EVI was in 2005. We envisaged that the EVI should be re-evaluated every 5 years to provide a statement of change which could be used to show how development / management actions have affected vulnerability / resilience. The EVI project was concluded, as scheduled, in 2005 as it was part of the Barbados+10 process. The EVI Project is not currently active, so no re-evaluation has been carried out by this team. There have however been other groups that have carried out evaluations for certain indicators or a full evaluation for a specific country.

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4-Hot-Periods“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.

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EVI calculator

EVI Classification ScaleManual: 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.

EVI-Country-ProfileEVI calculator

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:

Hazards
Resistance
Damage

The 50 EVI indicators are also divided up in the issue categories for use as required:

Climate change
Biodiversity
Water
Agriculture and fisheries
Human health aspects
Desertification
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.

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templatemo_image_04Defining Indicators

Environmental vulnerability has been characterised by three components or sub-indices. These sub-indices focus on ecosystem integrity and how it is threatened by anthropogenic and natural hazards. To be able to capture the complexity of these aspects of environmental vulnerability requires the development of a variety of indicators that target different spatial and temporal scales and hierarchical levels of the ecosystem. International initiatives to measure environmental condition or change range have developed anywhere from 4 to 260 indicators with increasing numbers being used to assess sustainable development progress or state of environment.

The EVI utilises 50 ‘smart indicators’ to capture the key elements of environmental vulnerability. The term ‘smart indicators’ has been used to define EVI indicators which aim to capture a large number of elements in a complex interactive system while simultaneously showing how the value obtained relates to some ideal condition. The basic assumption of smart indicators is that the value of a chosen indicator is a culmination of perhaps millions of transactions that must have been operating appropriately to result in the value obtained. Thankfully, this does not require our full knowledge of every transaction because if this were a requirement, we would never be able to use indicators at all. Simply it’s a bit like measuring our body temperature as an indicator of our health. If we have a high temperature it is a symptom of a potential health problem and we then rely on further tests and our doctor’s experience to find out what may be wrong. Indicators, like temperature in this case, do not tell us exactly what is wrong but are a helpful gauge that identifies a potential problem that requires further investigation.

How Indicators were Selected

The indicators selected for use in the EVI are based on the best scientific understanding currently available and have been developed in consultation with international experts, country experts, other agencies and interest groups. Some important environmental vulnerability issues are not yet  measured because relevant data or robust measurement techniques are not yet available. However with new technological advances especially in the area of remote sensing further indicators may be developed for use in the EVI. The refinement of indicators and search for more appropriate smart indicators is on-going. The 50 indicators been selected to measure environmental vulnerability are detailed below. Each indicator is classified into a range of sub-indices including the three aspects of hazards; resistance and damage and into policy-relevant sub-indices including:

Climate Change = CC | Biodiversity = CBD | Water = W | Agriculture and fisheries = AF | Human health aspects = HH | Desertification = CCD | Exposure to Natural disasters = D

Each indicator is also accompanied by a short form key name, detailed definition, keywords and a description of the main signals for which it is a proxy as well as the indicator’s policy relevance.

Indicators list

1. HIGH WINDS
2. DRY PERIODS
3. WET PERIODS
4. HOT PERIODS
5. COLD PERIODS
6. SEA TEMPERATURES
7. VOLCANOES
8. EARTHQUAKES
9. TSUNAMIS
10. SLIDES
11. LAND AREA
12. COUNTRY DISPERSION
13. ISOLATION
14. RELIEF
15. LOWLANDS
16. BORDERS
17. ECOSYSTEM IMBALANCE
18. ENVIRONMENTAL OPENNESS
19. MIGRATIONS
20. ENDEMICS
21. INTRODUCTIONS
22. ENDANGERED SPECIES
23. EXTINCTIONS
24. VEGETATION COVER
25. LOSS OF COVER
26. HABITAT FRAGMENTATION
27. DEGRADATION
28. TERRESTRIAL RESERVES
29. MARINE RESERVES

30. INTENSIVE FARMING
31. FERTILISERS
32. PESTICIDES
33. BIOTECHNOLOGY
34. PRODUCTIVITY OVERFISHING
35. FISHING EFFORT
36. RENEWABLE WATER
37. SULPHUR DIOXIDE EMISSIONS
38. WASTE PRODUCTION
39. WASTE TREATMENT
40. INDUSTRY
41. SPILLS
42. MINING
43. SANITATION
44. VEHICLES
45. POPULATION
46. POPULATION GROWTH
47. TOURISTS
48. COASTAL SETTLEMENTS
49. ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENTS
50. CONFLICTS

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Cover-Think-Tank-IIThe 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:

  1. Obtain peer-review and commentary from experts
  2. Obtain constructive technical inputs to improve the EVI to make it acceptable and/or operational in the international community
  3. Provide expert reference towards the setting and justification of sustainable thresholds of EVI indicators
  4. 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

Download the report from our downloads page

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