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The Intersection of Global Fragility and Climate Risks



Project Summary

States with high exposure to climate hazards face multi-faceted challenges, including physical and livelihood risks for the population that may force states to redirect scarce resources to adaptation or humanitarian response efforts and strain the capacity of states that, in many cases, are still solidifying democratic institutions and mechanisms for meeting public needs. Similarly, fragility can affect many aspects of a state’s capacity and legitimacy across its political, economic, social, and security spheres.

When states face fragility and climate risks simultaneously, the risks and challenges are compounded. This study seeks to identify the locations where fragility and climate risks co-occur around the world. Since these places with compound fragility-climate risks may be more vulnerable to humanitarian emergencies or instability, understanding the distinct fragility and climate challenges they face could present opportunities and focal points for intervention.

This study examines highly fragile states with high exposure to multiple climate hazards. The reason for this is straightforward: responding to high exposure to even a single hazard requires substantial resources, infrastructure, and mobilization, yet a country that has high exposure to multiple hazards requires such resources, infrastructure, and mobilization many times over to address each of these diverse hazards. For a highly fragile state—for instance Burma, which faces substantial risks from both slow-onset hazards like droughts and rapid-onset hazards like cyclones and coastal inundation—these diverse threats and required responses can exceed state capacity and social capital.

This study has produced several novel analytical products. These include: a new composite measure of climate exposure allowing assessment of subnational exposure patterns worldwide; a new longitudinal fragility measure allowing assessment of state effectiveness and legitimacy in the political, security, economic, and social spheres of states worldwide; metrics on the number and proportion of people facing high and very high exposure in fragile states; metrics on the extent of territory facing very high exposure in fragile states; and maps showing the locations of overall climate exposure and individual hazard risks, overall fragility and sectoral risks, and the intersection of fragility and climate risks worldwide.