Skip to content

Availability: Vulnerability

To what extent is climate vulnerability information available as open data?

Definitions and Identification

Data about climate vulnerability should integrate or otherwise address the two major strands of vulnerability approaches: the risks and hazards approach, which focuses on responding to natural hazards and extreme weather events; and the entitlements and livelihoods approach, which focuses on preventing undesirable outcomes by identifying where people have too few resources to withstand or recover from disaster—for example, in conjunction with poverty, gender, and marginalization.

Further, climate vulnerability data should include granular local data and be available in user-friendly outputs; any projections should draw on transparent, open models. To support collaborative data collection work across actors, the data repository should have a mechanism to support contributions from additional actors.

Examples of relevant vulnerability data* include but are not limited to:

  • Data on urban water quality, access, and scarcity;
  • Data on the use of agricultural practices and crop varieties that are resistant to extreme temperatures, rains, and pests;
  • Data on population access to early warning systems for disease vectors and extreme weather events;
  • Data on the scope of coastal protection or rollback programs;
  • Demographic data, including sex- and/or gender-disaggregated data on livelihoods, access to public services, etc.;
  • Population and infrastructure density in risk-prone areas (e.g., areas vulnerable to storm surges or landslides).

*Drawn from the Open Up Guide: Using Open Data To Advance Climate Action.

Among other functions, it should be possible for individuals to use climate vulnerability data to easily and accurately assess the climate vulnerability of their neighborhood, the neighborhoods of their loved ones, and neighborhoods they might consider for relocation; to identify specific needs for adaptation tools and services; and to propose and track government responses.

In some countries, governments may rely on proprietary sources to generate some or all of their climate vulnerability data; alternatively, in some countries, the available climate vulnerability data may draw from government-generated data (e.g., meteorological data, poverty data) but be published by organizations or businesses, either openly or in proprietary forms. If either case applies to your country, please be sure to explain in the justification and relevant answer boxes.

Starting points

  • Sources:
    • The Open DRI Index can be useful for locating relevant source data that a country draws from as part of its climate vulnerability data, identifying where the country makes such information available, and, particularly, evaluating whether source data is open, restricted, or closed.
  • Search:
    • Websites of the ministry of environment, office of climate action, disaster management, foresight, etc.
    • Websites of organizations or businesses that offer climate vulnerability data specific to your country.
  • Consult:
    • Officials in your national or local environmental, disaster management, or foresight office.
    • Scholars or researchers at civil society organizations who research climate vulnerability, resilience, or disaster management in your country.
    • Officers at civil society organizations who work on implementing adaptation or resilience projects in communities vulnerable to climate change.
    • Journalists who report on climate change, disaster management, vulnerable communities, or inequitable access to climate change–related resources.

What to look for?

To complete the assessment for this question you will need to access and explore the available data. This may involve running queries on datasets to check the variety of fields included.

Look for evidence that can answer the following questions:

  • Does the data contain information not only on vulnerability to hazards, but also vulnerability to undesirable outcomes? On both ecological effects as well as societal effects, particularly on populations with less access to resources?
  • Does the data include sufficient granularity to make it an effective tool for local actors to plan actions in the present and future? Or is it primarily large-scale, drawing on satellite data that has not been informed by on-the-ground knowledge?
  • Are the models that projections rely on made available to the people using the climate vulnerability data? Are the models sufficiently open and transparent for an external actor to assess their validity?
  • Is the data made available in user-friendly outputs that don't require high levels of technical skills to understand or access? For example, an agency might make vulnerability data available as layered maps.
  • If you wanted to contribute data, is there a clear means for you to do so?

National and sub-national considerations

In some countries, data about climate vulnerability may be generated and published at the sub-national level, carried out by individual states, regions, or cities.

Focus on national government first, and then assess whether:

  • National datasets also include data from sub-national or local government units;
  • Equivalent data exists for a selection of sub-national or local government units, but is not nationally aggregated;

To assess countries where data about climate vulnerability is organized sub-nationally, researchers should select the strongest example of sub-national practice, and then indicate whether this is an outlier or an example of widespread practice.

Show/hide supporting questions


  • Is this data available online in any form?
    • Data is not available online.
      Supporting questions: Are there other offline ways to access this data in the country? (e.g., attending an office to inspect it).
    • Data is available, but not as a result of government action.
      Supporting questions: If government is not providing access to data, how is this data available? Please provide a URL(s) for where this data can be found.
    • Data is available from government, or because of government actions.
      Supporting questions: Please provide a URL(s) for where this data can be found.


  • Data fields and quality:

  • The data contains information on future natural hazards, extreme weather events, and climate variability. (No, Partially, Yes)

    Supporting questions (conditional)

    If Partially: Please briefly explain, with URLs.

    If Yes: Please provide URLs.

  • The data contains information on poverty, gender, and marginalized populations. (No, Partially, Yes)

    Supporting questions (conditional)

    If Partially: Please briefly explain, with URLs.

    If Yes: Please provide URLs.

  • The data draws on granular local information. (No, Partially, Yes)

    Supporting questions (conditional)

    If Partially: Please briefly explain, with URLs.

    If Yes: Please provide URLs.

  • Data based on projections draws on transparent and open models. (No, Partially, Yes)

    Supporting questions (conditional)

    If Partially or Yes: Please briefly explain, with examples and URLs.

  • A mechanism allows additional actors to contribute to the data repository. (No, Partially, Yes)

    Supporting questions (conditional)

    If Partially or Yes: Please briefly explain and provide relevant URLs.

  • Data openness, timing, and structure:

  • Dataset is available free of charge. (No, Partially, Yes)

    Supporting questions (conditional)

    If Partially: Please briefly explain your 'Partially' answer.

  • Data is openly licensed. (No, Partially, Yes)

    Supporting questions (conditional)

    If No: If there are explicit restrictions placed on re-use of the dataset, briefly describe those here.

    If Partially or Yes: If the data is provided with an explicit open license, please provide the name of the license, or a link to it here.

  • Data is available in all the country’s official or national languages. If the country has no official or national languages, data is available in the major languages of the country. (No, Partially, Yes) Assess this against the list of official, national, or in-use languages you provided as part of your response to the governance indicator that asks, "To what extent do relevant laws, regulations, policies, and guidance require that data collection and publication processes be available in the country’s official or national languages?"

    Supporting questions (conditional)

    If Partially or Yes: Please briefly describe the language coverage available.

  • There are accessible and open official tools available to help users explore data. (No, Partially , Yes) Answer 'Partially' if tools make it possible to get at extracts of data without having to download a full dataset. Answer 'Yes' if there is an interactive tool that displays user-filtered extracts of the data to answer simple questions without downloading data at all.

    Supporting questions (conditional)

    If Partially or Yes: Please provide URL.

    If Partially : What are the main barriers to accessibility and usability?

  • Data is timely and updated. (No, Partially, Yes)

    Supporting questions (conditional)

    If Partially or Yes: When was the most recent update to this dataset?

  • Historical data is available that allows users to track change over time. (No, Partially, Yes)

    Supporting questions (conditional)

    If Partially: Please briefly explain your 'Partially' answer.

    If Partially or Yes: For what time period(s) (e.g., start and end dates) is data available?

  • Data is provided in machine-readable format(s) (No, Partially, Yes)

    Supporting questions (conditional)

    If Partially or Yes: Please provide a URL where this machine-readable data can be found. (Additional URLs can be included in the justification and supporting evidence)

    If Partially or Yes: Please provide a comma separated list of the formats available? (E.g. csv, json)

    If Partially: What prevents you from assessing this data as fully machine-readable?

  • The machine-readable dataset is available as a whole (No, Partially, Yes) Answer no if it's only possible to access individual records; Answer partially if it's possible to export extracts of the data; Answer yes if there are bulk downloads or APIs providing access to the whole dataset without financial, technical or legal barriers.

    Supporting questions (conditional)

    If Partially or Yes: Please provide a URL where bulk download access is available or described.

    If Partially or Yes: If bulk access is provided through an API, please provide a link to where the API is described.

    If Partially: Please briefly explain your 'Partially' answer.

  • Negative scoring:

  • This information is missing required data. (There is no evidence of data gaps., There is evidence that a portion of mandated data is missing., There is evidence of widespread omissions in mandated data.) In cases where the indicator itself identifies a dataset(s) to assess against or a separate governance indicator has asked you to determine data requirements of a relevant governing framework, assess against that. In cases where there is no such identified dataset(s) or related governance indicator, assess based on the parameters laid out in the publication of the information (e.g., are some fields entirely empty when they shouldn't be?), your local knowledge (e.g., if the data is supposed to include information for all public officials, does the number of total entries look right?), and any broader research you may have done for this theme (e.g., have media articles decried the incompleteness of the data?).

    Supporting questions (conditional)

    If There is evidence that a portion of mandated data is missing. or There is evidence of widespread omissions in mandated data.: Please briefly explain.

  • The availability of this data has been affected by government response to COVID-19. (No, Partially, Yes)

    Supporting questions (conditional)

    If Partially or Yes: Please briefly describe how COVID-19 affected the availability of this data.


  • How comprehensive is the data assessed for this question?
    • The data assessed covers one or more localities, but there are many other localities without available data, or with data of a lesser quality.
      Supporting questions: Which locality does this data cover?
    • The data assessed covers one or more localities, and is a representative example of the kind of data that can be found for most but not all localities.
      Supporting questions: Which localities does this data cover?
    • The data assessed provides national coverage.

Understanding climate vulnerability is critical to empowering and supporting climate actors and decision-makers, particularly with regard to adaptation. Consequently, the UNFCCC encourages all parties—and requires Annex 1 countries—to report on actions related to vulnerability assessments. The IPCC defines vulnerability as “The propensity or predisposition to be adversely affected. Vulnerability encompasses a variety of concepts including sensitivity or susceptibility to harm and lack of capacity to cope and adapt” (WGII AR5 Annex II).

Similarly, the Sendai Framework calls for disaster risk management that’s grounded in a comprehensive understanding of disaster risk “in all its dimensions of vulnerability, capacity, exposure of persons and assets, hazard characteristics and the environment” (23) and specifically directs governments at national and local levels to “promote the collection, analysis, management and use of relevant data and practical information and ensure its dissemination, taking into account the needs of different categories of users, as appropriate” (24(b)).

This indicator thus investigates what information about climate vulnerability countries make available and how comprehensive it is.