Background

In 2013, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) commissioned GIZ with the Global Programme “Risk assessment- and management for Adaptation to Climate Change (Loss and Damage)” (GP L&D). The programme aims to generate tried-and-tested guidelines, innovative concepts and practical instruments for climate risk assessment and management for application by German development cooperation and its international partners in the UNFCCC process. 

In 2018, the Climate Risk CoP (Community of Practice) was launched with the aim of “promoting quality, efficiency, and innovation of state-of-the-art and practically useful climate vulnerability and risk assessment via the creation and maintenance of a global workspace for exchange and innovation on these topics.” GIZ Colleagues from different departments as well as those working in partner countries came together with experts from science, KfW and the consulting industry to discuss current challenges, new developments and opportunities in the field of climate risk assessments. In its commonly agreed workplan, the workstream 2 aims at a comparison of different existing methods for climate risk assessments. GP L&D took over the task to coordinate and initiate this work stream. Other members of the CoP Climate Risk contributed via provision of material (literature, comparison studies) and commenting on the work in progress.

In October 2021, the final search engine was officially launched at the CoP Climate Risk, including 123 different methods from the start.

 

Methodology

The methodology is comprised of two main steps: the selection of the sample (2a) and the analysis in accordance to predefined categories and sub-categories (2b). In the following, the two steps will be explained in more detail including in-depth information on the process of developing the given set of criteria.

Prior to this, it seems worthwhile to define more precisely the understanding of what is considered a Climate Risk Assessment in this database. According to the OECD (2011), tools can be distinguished generally into 3 types: process guidance tools, data and information provision tools and knowledge- sharing tools. While the aforementioned publication’s focus is on different methods for CRA from a development cooperation’s perspective, the present database also covers tools and methods developed by the private sector as well as private public partnerships. 

Risk assessment is thereby understood as “a methodology to determine the nature and extent of risk by analysing potential hazards (current and[/or] projected) and evaluating conditions of vulnerability that could pose a potential threat or harm to people, property, livelihoods and the environment on which they depend.” (OECD 2011). For this reason, tools assessing for example only the nature and extent of hazards have not been included in the database. Besides this, tools and methods which analyze different management options, evaluate them and show their limitations in terms of risks covered have been included as these aspects are estimated crucial in the context of climate-related losses and damages.

During the analysis, it was attempted to organize methods according to their focus on either the disaster risk reduction (DRR) or the climate change adaptation (CCA) “school of thought” (Surminski et al. 2012). However, the attribution to either one of these schools of thought unveiled to be unambiguous as the range of methods covered in this analysis is much broader and does not solely focus on climate related losses and damages. 

a) Sample selection

Different sources have been used in order to identify a comprehensive overview on existing CRA methods as illustrated below. Four criteria have been applied in order to identify methods suitable for this analysis. Only if all criteria are met, a method was taken into account:

  1. A clear link to methods that consider climate variability or climate change for the identification of risks or vulnerabilities

  2. Availability of method description online

  3. Availability of method description in English

  4. Conformity with definition of ‘method’ in distinction to ‘framework’. The distinction of ‘framework’ and ‘method’ was based on established definitions (see table)

     

    Framework 

    Method 

    Definition  

    “A basic structure underlying a system, concept or text” (Creswell 1998)

    “A particular procedure for accomplishing or approaching something especially a systematic or established one” (Green 2013)

    Key point 

    • Loose and generic; can be applied to different scenarios, conditions 
    • Based on set of theories, concepts and relationships
    • Not too detailed or rigid
    • Offers guidance andrationale/structure within study 
    • Constitutes a research tool and instrument with specific rules, procedures, which aid problem-solving
    • Replicable (possibility of triangulation) and established methods of research 

    Structure 

    Flexible  

    Prescriptive, according to procedural rules of method 

    Content 

    “What to do” 

    “What, when and how to do” 

Throughout the process of analysis, the sample included over 192 methods and frameworks, partly through extended research and analyst’s personal experience as well as via contacts of the Climate Risk CoP. Finally, 123 of these were identified as CRA methods in accordance with the described criteria. The figure below provides an overview of the screening process and relevant sources.

b) Analysis according to predefined categories and sub-categories

A set of criteria and categories was applied for the content analysis of the methods. A first set of criteria was designed by GP L&D and then presented, discussed and further developed at the CoP Climate Risk physical meeting in August 2019. Particular emphasis was put on criteria relevant to the L&D discourse, such as incorporation of non- economic Loss and Damage (NELD), the interconnectedness of risks and the coverage of the whole spectrum of climate-related hazards and impacts. In total, 33 categories were analysed.

Intended use

The comparison of different methods for climate risk assessments aims at giving an overview on an extensive number of existing methods and at highlighting relevant aspects. For those decision makers or project staff who seek to identify suitable climate risk assessment methods for their specific context, this work helps to navigate through the variety of existing methods. It shall be noted that the presented overview is, however, bound to the capacity of interpretation of the analysts who reviewed the available methods and their descriptions based on a fixed set of criteria. Following fixed criteria is an attempt to create a framework to make various different methods comparable. The degree of subjectivity, hereby, depends on multiple factors, such as the extent of detail in the method’s description. 

Lastly it shall be noted that this database does not intend to ‘evaluate’ the quality of the different methods or to establish a ranking. The investigation simply follows the objective of cataloguing existing methods.

 

Help us to further improve CRAMSE! Do you have any questions or feedback or do you know a CRA method that is not yet included in the database? Please contact us via: maximilian.hoegl@giz.de