Linking Social Perception and Risk Analysis to Assess Vulnerability of Coastal Socio-ecological Systems to Climate Change in Atlantic South America

Publicado en In book: Handbook of Climate Change Adaptation (pp.22)

Lozoya, J.P., Conde, D., Asmus, M., Polette, M., Píriz, C., Martins, F., de Álava, D., Marenzi, R., Nin, M., Anello, L., Moraes, A., Zaguini, M., Marrero, L., Verrastro, N., Lagos, X., Chreties, C. and Rodriguez, L.

Año de publicación 2014
  • Universidad de la Republica, Montevideo, Uruguay
  • Universidade Federal do Rio Grande, Rio Grande, Brazil
  • Universidade do Vale do Itajaí, Itajaí, Brazil
  • Universidade de Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal


Proyecto CRN3070


Nowadays no other region on earth is more threatened by natural hazards than coastal areas. However the increasing risk in this area is not just a climate extreme events&rsquo result. Coasts are the places with highest concentration of people and values, thus impacts continue to increase as the values of coastal infrastructures continue to grow. Climate change aggravates chronic social vulnerabilities since social groups may be affected differently both by climate change as well as by risk management actions. Relationships between these groups are often characterized by inequality, with different perceptions, response, or adaptation modes to climate hazards. Misperception of these differences often leads to policies that deepen inequities and increase the vulnerability of the weakest groups. Population affected by climatic extreme events increases dramatically resulting in urgent adaptation intervention. We address the interdependence of risk perception and vulnerability of coastal communities and the relevance of ecosystem services for adaptation. We developed a methodology where risk analysis and communities&rsquo risk perception are linked through key actions at strategic points of risk assessment: (i) initial interviews with qualified local informants to complete an inventory of ecosystem services, (ii) a social valuation of ecosystem services by local people, and (iii) assessment of stakeholders&rsquo social vulnerability. This approach allows a truly socially weighted risk assessment to be validated in three sites: Valle de Itajai (Brazil), Estuary of Lagoa dos Patos (Brazil), and Laguna de Rocha (Uruguay). In this novel approach, risk assessment is forced by social perceptions, thus risk treatment can better contribute to realistic adaptation arrangements to cope with climate forces. Public policies could be improved, recognizing healthy functioning ecosystems as key factor for coastal resilience and well-being.