We have a new paper that has just appeared which reports on the need for a bottom-up, resourse-base focus on vulnerability [i.e. "contextual vulnerability]. The paper is
Hossain, F., D. Niyogi, J. Adekoke, G. Kallos, R.A. Pielke Sr., 2011: Making sense of the water resources that will be available for future use. EOS Forum, Vol. 90, No. 17, 26 April 2011, 144-145. Copyright (2011) American Geophysical Union.
An excerpt from the paper reads
“With respect to water, the world we live in has finite water resources that are under stress from rising demand due to population growth, urbanization, and industrialization [Gleick and Palaniappan, 2010]. According to a United Nations report, the current rate of growth is expected to take world population to 9 billion by the end of this century. More than 80% of this population will be residing in urban areas [United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2008]. A dramatic expansion in urban and industrialized areas of the world is likely. Thus, knowledge of water that can actually be harnessed for use is the key element in defining society’s ability to achieve sustainable living in the 21st century.”
The paper concludes with
“We now need a vulnerability assessment approach to evaluate the effect of environmental and societal threats to fresh water. This vulnerability concept requires the determination of the major threats to these resources, not only from climate but also from other social and environmental issues such as the ones described above. After these threats are identified for each resource, the relative risk from natural and human-caused climate variability and longer-term change should be compared with other risks so that the optimal mitigation or adaptation strategy can be adopted. The advantage of this vulnerability strategy, which should be location specific, is that even if the forecast of water availability due to, say, climate or other threats were deemed to be unfounded years later, the optimal mitigation or adaptation strategy identified from multiple threats should have allowed for this margin of error during planning. In essence, such an approach guarantees a higher chance of success than would a one-dimensional strategy such as one based on projections only from global climate models that are reported in literature [Schneider et al., 2007].”