1. Introduction 4. Output
2. Aim 5. Material and preparation
3. Input data 6. Exercise instructions


Climate change is seldom the only stressor affecting economic activity in a local area. This exercise seeks to illuminate what changes other than climate you think are likely to affect your region or economic sector. This exercise is preferably done in tandem with Exercise II – Climatic stressor mapping. The outcomes of both exercises will be used when identifying local sensitivity in Exercise IV.

The exercise is based on a questionnaire containing a generic list of economic, social, demographic and technological factors (Table 1). You will assess:

(1) how significant you think they are in influencing the level of vulnerability to climate change in your area or economic sector, and
(2) in what direction you think they will evolve in the next 30 to 50 years.

The socio-economic factors have been identified by other researchers and in national surveys of major social problems. We have divided the factors into two categories: potential stressors and potential opportunities to facilitate identification of the challenges and chances, respectively. 

The Process Team should decide how you would like to use the list of socio-economic stressors.

1. If you think that this is a major issue for your assessment, you may want to distribute the questionnaire to all major stakeholders in your region or organization.

2. In order to facilitate your discussion and to not risk being dominated by one or a few people, it is wise that all Process Team participants have filled in the questionnaire prior to your meeting. The Process Leader summarizes the results and presents them as a base for the discussions in your group.

3. If you think socio-economic factors are not that significant for your assessment, you may use the list of socio-economic factors to systematically rate their level of significance directly at the meeting.


This exercise aims at identifying the most critical socio-economic stressors and opportunities influencing your local area or economic sector. N.B. You will not discuss how these changes affect economic activity in your region or certain activities or parts of your economic sector. This will be performed in the local sensitivity Exercise IV.

Input data

Local socio-economic data from the Inventory analysis.


1. Top-lists of how the most significant socio-economic challenges and chances affecting vulnerability to climate change in your local area or economic sector.

2. Identification of required information or in-depth studies on more specific socio-economic stressors or chances generated by climate change in order to assess overall vulnerability. If you have identified knowledge gaps, you should decide how to obtain that knowledge and how to make use of it in your coming work.

Material and preparation

  • Modify the questionnaire in Table 1 (if you wish), i.e. by adding more socio-economic factors. (The table  can be downloaded from the Related files on the right.)
  • Send out the questionnaire to group participants (about one week in advance). If you wish to speed up the exercise, the responses could be collected prior to the meeting and summarized on a flipchart sized paper in advance.
  • Prepare the table on a flipchart sized paper with the list of relevant socio-economic factors.
  • Prepare A3 charts for the top-lists (one for stressors and one for chances). If you work with more than one local area or economic sector, prepare two top-lists for each area/sector.
  • Bring stickers or pens of different colors.
  • Prepare how you will proceed with the discussions at the meetings.
  • Decide about the form for documentation of results.

Table 1. Socio-economic stressor mapping

This socio-economic factor is very influential for vulnerability in my area: Disagreement      ↔     Agreement Direction of change
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 - 0 +
Increasing competition from abroad          
Climate-exposed buildings and infrastructure           
Insufficient energy supply                    
Risk of deficient road and railroad system                    
Risk of deficient water and sewage system                    
Risk of deficient telecommunications                    
Risk of deficient public transportation                    
Risk of long-lasting economic recession            
International political insecurity (terrorism)                    
Unclear division of responsibility for meeting crisis and weather extremes                    
Increasing income disparity            
Increasing crime                    
Lack of public trust in social institutions                    
Increasing materialism                    
Ageing of population in the area          
Migration within Europe                    
Population decrease in the area            
Social marginalisation                    
Migration due to climate change                    
Larger differences between Baltic Sea regions                    
Own factor:                    
Own factor:                    


This socio-economic factor is potentially very positively affecting social and economic activity in my area: Disagreement     ↔     Agreement Direction of change
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 - 0 +
Economic growth          
Its attractiveness for investment                    
Climate change high on the global agenda                    
Environmental awareness            
Private investment in environmentally friendly technology              
More international trade            
Public expenditure on infrastructure                    
Public spending on research & development            
Public regulations to encourage environmentally friendly technology              
Investment in buildings                    
Investment in social infrastructure                    
Business development                    
Own factor:                    
Own factor:                    

Exercise instructions

1. The Process Leader presents the exercise, its aim, description and outcome.

2. The first step is to identify the significant socio-economic factors based on the responses from group members. Start with the potential stressors.

  • Post a flipchart sized paper containing the table with the potential socio-economic stressors, their level of significance and direction of change.

  • Each participant is given stickers or pens (preferably one colour each) and asked to fill in their responses. N.B. Preferably, the Process Leader will have done this in advance.

  • Now you are ready to discuss. Go through the factors one by one. Start with the ones which most of you agreed were most significant in influencing vulnerability to climate change. Then, proceed with the factors you considered less influential.

  • Discuss and document the reasons why you thought each factor was influential. Please try to describe in what way you think this factor affects vulnerability to climate change. The more specific you are the better!
    - Does it mainly affect the overall social and condition in your local area?
    - Does it limit your ability to handle crisis?
    - Does it affect economic value or how much buildings and people are exposed to the changing climate? 

  • Take a look at its direction of change. If you think that this factor will change in a way that would increase vulnerability to climate variability and change in the future, be it in terms of making the effects more severe or by limiting adaptive capacity, this factor should be included in the top-list as a significant socio-climatic stressor in the vulnerability assessment. If the direction of change will lessen vulnerability, then the factor will be classified as moderately relevant for climate vulnerability.

  • You should also discuss the factors that were classified as “Unclear”. Why was it rated in this way? If the participants cannot agree, this factor might require further study before it can be decided whether to include or exclude it in the vulnerability assessment.

  • Proceed with the potential socio-economic opportunities in the same way. Please note that here the direction of future change for the factors you agreed to be very influential should be positive in order to be included in the top-list of significant socio-economic chances.

3. The second step concerns how climate-related the most significant of the socio-economic stressors and changes are.

  • For each socio-economic stressor and opportunity, discuss in what way each of them might be influenced by the significant climatic parameters and impacts of climate change. Are there any particular climatic parameters that this socio-economic factor is related to? You may use the top-lists from Exercise II. This output will be used as input in Exercise IV on sensitivity.

Back to Exercise II - Climatic stressor mapping  
Go further to Exercise IV - Local sensitivity