Developing a social vulnerability to environmental hazards index to inform climate action in Ireland


  • James M. Fitton
  • Barry O'Dwyer
  • Breda Maher


Ireland faces a wide range of impacts from climate change including increases in fluvial, pluvial and coastal flooding, coastal erosion and heat waves. In Ireland, there has been research undertaken to assess the spatial distribution of some these hazards, for example, the OPW Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management programme. However, these assessments do not take into account that
some individuals or groups are disproportionately affected by climate change as they have less capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from climate-related hazards and effects. This concept is termed social vulnerability. Therefore, to support Ireland’s
transition to a climate resilient, low carbon society and economy that is inclusive and just, consideration of those groups with high levels of social vulnerability needs to be considered in any risk assessments. In response to this need, the Irish Social Vulnerability to Environmental Hazards Index (ISVEHI) has been developed to map the distribution of social vulnerability to environmental hazards. The ISVEHI has been developed on the basis of CSO data and identified that approximately 772,000 (23%) people and 437,000 (26%) households have levels of social vulnerability above the national average. This information can inform climate action, spatial planning and economic and community planning at a local authority level, to reduce risk from environmental hazards and support Ireland in a just transition to a sustainable and resilient future.



How to Cite

James M. Fitton, Barry O’Dwyer, & Breda Maher. (2022). Developing a social vulnerability to environmental hazards index to inform climate action in Ireland. Irish Geography, 54(2), 157–180. Retrieved from