Flashy numbers or relevant guidance? Evaluating the validity and usefulness of risk and vulnerability indices

Type: Paper
Theme: Hazards, Geography, and GIScience
Sponsor Groups: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM (MDT)
Room: Napoleon B3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Organizers: Matthias Garschagen, Eric Tate
Chairs: Matthias Garschagen

Description

Indices for measuring social vulnerability, risk and resilience in the context of environmental hazards have become very popular over the recent years. Prominent examples include for example the World Risk Index, the Social Vulnerability Index, the INFORM Index or the ND-GAIN Index. Such indices are often ascribed an important role in guiding decision-making for risk reduction, i.e. with regards to identifying hot-spot areas or prioritizing action and funding. In addition, indices are argued to be of increasing importance for tracking progress in risk reduction. This field of alleged application is argued to grow rapidly in the future, especially in relation to the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the progress monitoring of the SDGs, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and adaptation under the Paris Climate Agreement.
However, rigid assessments on the actual validity and usefulness of such indices are much less common and receive little attention. This is, firstly, due to the fact that the question of what constitutes a good quality indicator is highly contested conceptually and normatively. Secondly, is can be explained by the difficulties in measuring these quality criteria empirically.
Against this background the session aims at discussing new approaches in evaluating the validity and utility of risk, vulnerability and resilience indices. The session begins with an introductory presentation and four short presentations on key findings from ongoing research projects. These findings are then discussed by a panel of additional experts. The session will generate knowledge on key achievements but also gaps in such index evaluation, from which guidance for a future research agenda will be drawn.


Agenda

Type Details Minutes Start Time
Introduction Matthias Garschagen United Nations University 5 10:00 AM
Presenter Joseph Tuccillo*, University of Colorado, Boulder, Seth Spielman, University of Colorado-Boulder, Emergent Social Vulnerability: Linking Hazards of Place to Individual Vulnerabilities 15 10:05 AM
Presenter Michael Hagenlocher*, United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), Matthias Garschagen, United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), Comparing global risk indices: How consistent are their results? 15 10:20 AM
Presenter Carl Anderson*, United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), Michael Hagenlocher, United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), Fabrice Renaud, United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), Zita Sebesvari, United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), Comparing index-based vulnerability assessments in the Mississippi Delta: key findings and research agenda 15 10:35 AM
Presenter Samuel Rufat*, , Eric Tate, University of Iowa, Empirical Validation of Social Vulnerability Measurements 15 10:50 AM
Presenter Matthias Garschagen*, United Nations University, Mia Wannewitz, United Nations University, Utility-focused evaluation of risk indices - A case study from the Philippines 15 11:05 AM
Discussant Eric Tate University of Iowa 20 11:20 AM

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