Why different interpretations of vulnerability matter in climate change discourses

Why different interpretations of vulnerability matter in climate change discourses Journal Article

Climate Policy

  • Author(s): O'Brien, K., Eriksen, S., Nygaard, L.P., Schjolden, A.
  • Published: 2007
  • Volume: 7

Abstract: In this article, we discuss how two interpretations of vulnerability in the climate change literature are manifestations of different discourses and framings of the climate change problem. The two differing interpretations, conceptualized here as ‘outcome vulnerability’ and ‘contextual vulnerability’, are linked respectively to a scientific framing and a human-security framing. Each framing prioritizes the production of different types of knowledge, and emphasizes different types of policy responses to climate change. Nevertheless, studies are seldom explicit about the interpretation that they use. We present a diagnostic tool for distinguishing the two interpretations of vulnerability and use this tool to illustrate the practical consequences that interpretations of vulnerability have for climate change policy and responses in Mozambique. We argue that because the two interpretations are rooted in different discourses and differ fundamentally in their conceptualization of the character and causes of vulnerability, they cannot be integrated into one common framework. Instead, it should be recognized that the two interpretations represent complementary approaches to the climate change issue. We point out that the human-security framing of climate change has been far less visible in formal, international scientific and policy debates, and addressing this imbalance would broaden the scope of adaptation policies.

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Suggested Citation
O'Brien, K., Eriksen, S., Nygaard, L.P., Schjolden, A. , 2007, Why different interpretations of vulnerability matter in climate change discourses, Volume:7, Journal Article, viewed 16 June 2024, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=5147.

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