Hotspots! Mapping Climate Change Vulnerability in Southeast Asia

by Arief Anshory Yusuf & Herminia Francisco

This publication provides information on the sub-national areas (regions/districts/ provinces) most vulnerable to climate change impacts in Southeast Asia. This assessment was carried out by overlaying climate hazard maps, sensitivity maps, and adaptive capacity maps following the vulnerability assessment framework of the United Nations’ Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The study used data on the spatial distribution of various climate hazards in 590 sub-national areas in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Based on this mapping assessment, all the regions of the Philippines; the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam; almost all the regions of Cambodia; North and East Lao PDR; the Bangkok region of Thailand; and West Sumatra, South Sumatra, West Java, and East Java of Indonesia have been found to be among the most vulnerable regions in Southeast Asia.

The drivers of vulnerability vary across and within countries. The high level of vulnerability of Indonesia’s urban hotspots, for instance, is due largely to their high population density (sensitivity). In the Philippines and Vietnam, vulnerability is mainly due to high exposure to climate hazards. Within these countries, the vulnerability of some provinces is, however, more attributable to low adaptive capacity. In Cambodia and Lao PDR, low adaptive capacity is the main reason for their high level of vulnerability. What these findings show is that policy actions need to be tailored to specific local drivers of vulnerability conditions.

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Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia