Environmental Change and Vulnerability

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Ecosystem services provide benefits for people that maintain the conditions for life on Earth. These services include provisioning, regulating, and cultural services that directly affect people, and the supporting services that maintain other services. The ability of ecosystems to provide a stable and secure living environment is being undermined by global and local changes to the environment.

While environmental change has continuously taken place over billions of years, it is the scale, magnitude and speed at which this change is now occurring, and the consequences for sustainability, that is of concern. Drivers of this change can be distinguished as indirect and direct:

  • Indirect drivers are the underlying causes of environmental change that do not have a direct influence on ecosystems, such as population growth and demographic change; socio-political factors, policy and economics; technology and scientific developments.
  • Direct drivers are natural or human-induced factors that cause a change in an ecosystem directly, such as transformation of land cover; consumption and pollution of natural resources; climate change and variability; as well as biological phenomena such as disease and invasions.

The threats associated with environmental change are driving changes in governance and the way the economic world views the environment. It is also highlighting the true economic value and the vulnerability of many natural ecosystems, as the services they offer are increasingly compromised. Decisions about how to manage and distribute the benefits from ecosystems will have significant implications for the future condition of ecosystems, and the livelihoods of people who depend on them.


  • Vulnerability assessment and mapping
  • Develop community and ecosystems based adaptation strategies
  • Design financing and incentives for community based adaptation