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CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship working paper series – 7

Current and potential applications of typologies in vulnerability assessments and adaptation science

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Typologies are a systematic grouping of entities or units of interest based on similarity. Typologies are widely applied in a variety of domains of research and practice including natural resource management, agriculture, health, marketing and development. They are used mainly to reduce complexity in the domain of concern to improve understanding and communication, detect patterns, aid decisions, prioritise and allocate resources, and tailor a variety of activities, strategies and processes. In this paper, we assess the current use of typologies within the realm of climate vulnerability assessments and adaptation sciences to better understand the potential use of typologies to further our ability to prepare for climate change risk. We found a limited number of climate vulnerability and adaptation studies that directly and indirectly developed typologies to help understand climate risk, and the example applications of typologies that have been developed have limitations in rigour, validity and even practical utility at times. There is especially a gap in the coverage of a typology work for the purpose of vulnerability assessments. The first gap is the potential application of typologies developed in the fields of cultural studies, learning and social psychology into the studies of behavioural aspects of vulnerability and adaptation to climate change. The second is the development of participatory typology as a communication and social learning tool that improves understanding of vulnerabilities to climate change and enhances collaborative adaptation. These limitations and gaps provide opportunity for potential improvement and expansion of typologies application in the research of vulnerability and adaptation to climate change.
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30 p.
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