Regional vulnerability
and assessment

Using local knowledge to identify potential threats and response options can help communities prepare for climate change.

The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) has developed a process that aims to provide a sound basis for local climate-change adaptation planning by working with community members, agencies and other local stakeholders to identify and understand regional vulnerabilities.

The process, called the Integrated Regional Vulnerability Assessment (IRVA), is carried out by OEH with support from the Institute for Sustainable Futures (University of Technology Sydney). It involves:

  • collecting background climate change, socioeconomic and sector information
  • a series of sector-focused workshops to assess the specific effects of climate change and capacity to adapt
  • an integration workshop, with participants from all sectors, to identify areas of regional vulnerability and adaptation responses.

The sectors are grouped as: industry, landscape management and natural/cultural assets; settlements and infrastructure; human services; and emergency management. Participants are also invited from state and federal agencies, local government, state-owned corporations and organisations that contribute to government services.

At the sector workshops, participants outline scenarios of the likely effects of climate change on their sector and the secondary consequences for others; this is followed by discussions on how well equipped the region is to respond.

The discussions are structured to consider the human, social, natural, physical and financial characteristics that will affect the region’s ability to cope (known as its ‘adaptive capacity’).

The insights gathered from the scenarios and discussions are analysed to identify key areas of regional vulnerability.

These vulnerabilities are then presented to an integration workshop, where participants validate, prioritise and discuss actions that can be used to address them and can contribute to a regional adaptation process.

The Guide to Integrated Regional Vulnerability Assessment (IRVA) for Climate Change (PDF 618KB) sets out the steps involved in running the process and how the insights are analysed. It also explains the theoretical principles that support the IRVA process.

The following are the IRVAs conducted so far across NSW(see Map for detail):

Map of progress of IRVA projects in NSW
Progress of IRVA’s across NSW. The project has engaged more than 600 state and local government participants.