Without exception, the environment is the life-support system for all human systems and is an integral part of the development success of countries. The Environmental Vulnerability Index is among the first tools now being developed to focus environmental management at the same scales that environmentally-significant decisions are made (countries), and focus them on outcomes. This is an appropriate scale because it is the one at which major decisions affecting the environment in terms of policies, economics and social and cultural behaviours are implemented.
The EVI uses 50 smart indicators for estimating the vulnerability of the environment of a country to future shocks. It is reported simultaneously as a single dimensionless index, several sub-indices, and as a profile showing the results for each indicator, allowing users to assess overall conditions and then drill-down to identify issues. This means that in addition to an overall signal of vulnerability, the EVI can be used to identify specific problems. It has been designed to reflect the status of a country’s environmental vulnerability, which refers to the extent to which the natural environment is prone to damage and degradation. It does not address the vulnerability of the social, cultural or economic systems, and not the environment that has become dominated by human systems (e.g. cities, farms). Indicators for the EVI were selected to characterise the risks to and resilience / vulnerability of the complex interactive and hierarchical natural systems that support countries. Data are collected for each indicator and located within an EVI scale which ranges between 1 – 7, where the value EVI = 1 indicates low vulnerability or high resilience, and EVI = 7 indicates extreme vulnerability for a country relating to an indicator.
The EVI results for 2004 categorise countries into 5 vulnerability groups ranging from Extremely vulnerable, Highly vulnerable, Vulnerable, At risk and Resilient. The EVI results are based on publicly available datasets as well as data compiled from 32 collaborating countries. The results include an overall listing of countries and their vulnerability status, as well as country reports that detail the results for a single country. The country reports, in addition to the overall EVI scores, provide information on 7 policy-relevant sub-indices, including aspects of vulnerability related to climate change; exposure to natural disasters; human health; agriculture and fisheries; water resources; and desertification and biodiversity. A detailed breakdown of the 50 indicators is also provided with a list of those issues contributing the most to a country’s vulnerability, as well as those aspects of greatest resilience that could be preserved. The EVI is now ready for application. In the pages that follow we present the first full evaluation of the EVI, and result sheets for selected countries, particularly SIDS.
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