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Assessing risks and vulnerabilities to climate change

2.5 Which sectors in my city/town are most likely to be impacted by climate change and how?

A first step in adapting to climate change is to understand how climate factors are likely to change in a specific geographic area, how people and city operations are likely to be affected by these changes and how impacts may vary across sectors. Understanding sectoral impacts is important as adaptive capacity differs considerably among sectors. The ability to adapt to and cope with climate change impacts is a function of wealth, technology, information, skills, infrastructure, institutions, equity, empowerment, and the ability to spread risk. A city can answer these questions by conducting an assessment of vulnerability, risk, and adaptive capacity in city operations, specific sectors, and different communities. 


Climate change impacts a city as a whole but some sectors are more vulnerable to certain impacts than others. For example, coastal flooding might be a problem for all infrastructure-dependent sectors such as transport and energy. Heat waves might cause a problem for the water supply and health sector. The list of potentially vulnerable urban sectors and fields of activity to be checked in the assessment should therefore at least cover:

  • Health
  • Buildings
  • Water
  • Disaster risk management
  • Transport
  • Energy
  • Industry
  • Service sector, including Tourism
  • Urban planning, including green and blue infrastructure
  • Social well-being (including: poor populations, elderly, the disabled, gender issues, migration, social services, food security)
  • Financial sector and insurance 
  • Environmental protection/ biodiversity

In some of the sectors the municipality might have direct competencies and involvement, in others less so; in any case, it is advisable to engage a wider range of sectoral stakeholders in the assessments of sectoral vulnerabilities.

The impacts per sectors should be assessed along the criteria in the table below




Impacts on the workforce, communities and lifestyles

Service Delivery

Changing demand for or disruption to services delivered by the sector

Infrastructure & Premises

Impacts on buildings, roads, transport infrastructure, parks, housing maintenance and facilities management

Procurement & Suppliers

Impacts on key sub-contractors, suppliers and implications for how procurement is managed under future climate


Implications for investment and insurance


It is also important to look at cross sectoral impacts and spill-over effects among the sectors. Without doubt, it is one of the most difficult exercises but some tools listed below can assist with the task.


Sector: Industry

Relevant tile

Sector: DRR

Relevant tile

Sector: Buildings

Relevant tile

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