Assessing social vulnerability to climate change in Samoa


Climate change severely impacts on the natural and socio-economic systems of the Pacific Islands. Samoa, a small insular state of the region, is characterized by widespread awareness of climate change reflected by its leading international role. This also makes Samoa a potentially exemplary reference for the Pacific Islands. Against this backdrop, the overall aim of this article is to investigate the notion of social vulnerability and measure its dimensions in Samoa through a specific index: the Samoa Social Vulnerability Index (SSVI). The SSVI may yield better understanding of the characteristics and dynamics of social vulnerability, as well as information for fostering adaptation strategies in Samoa and in the Pacific Islands. In particular, the article first outlines the major vulnerabilities to climate change in Samoa and then analyses the composite notion of social vulnerability. On this basis, the article methodologically specifies, designs and constructs the SSVI. Afterwards, it uses such index for measuring the dimensions of social vulnerability in Samoa’s districts. Finally, some considerations are made concerning the policy relevance of the SSVI and its potential regional role.

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Correspondence to Marco Grasso.

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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of UNDP Samoa.

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Grasso, M., Moneo, M. & Arena, M. Assessing social vulnerability to climate change in Samoa. Reg Environ Change 14, 1329–1341 (2014).

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  • Adaptation
  • Climate change
  • South Pacific
  • Social vulnerability
  • Social Vulnerability Index