Potential Applicability of Vulnerability Assessments in the Western Balkan Countries
The Western Balkan (WB) region is one of the relatively vulnerable parts of the continent to climate change: it faces several challenges today and will face potential problems (e.g., increasing risks of flash floods, sea-level rise, droughts, heatwaves, forest fires, etc.) over the coming decades, too. Proper adaptation to these challenges must play a decisive role in sectoral and local decision-making of these counties. Risk and vulnerability assessments, based partly on geographic information systems with map contents, can be one of the potential tools to find proper responses to climate change impacts in European countries. The main problem statement of the article emphasizes the low weight of these analytical decision-support tools in WB countries’ climate and development policies. It examines what types of vulnerability assessments are helpful in WB countries and whether their results show significant territorial differences in given states. To answer these questions, through two case studies, we used a combination of the IPCC- and impact chain-based CIVAS model and complex indicator development methods from the international literature and the Hungarian NAGIS system. Our analyses are principally territorial assessments: they focus on comparing regional/local territories/destinations and identifying relative territorial differences. Through these, we intend to contribute to the recognition of the usefulness of complex vulnerability approaches in WB countries for evaluating climate change risks and identifying future policy responses. The results in the two case studies show that definite territorial inequalities exist in exposure indicators in both analyzed WB countries. Similarly, significant spatial differences in the sensitivity and adaptability factors are also expected. The suggested vulnerability approach proposed here can help countries develop appropriate climate adaptation responses.
Keywords: climate change, climate adaptation, strategic planning, sectoral vulnerability, tourism, heat waves
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