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


In this exercise you will now take a look at how you think your local area or economic sector will be affected by the identified climatic (Exercise II) and socio-economic (Exercise III) challenges and chances on your top-lists. Sensitivity addresses to what degree any stressors actually modify or affect the local area or economic sector. One could say that this exercise takes the analysis from stressors to concrete impacts.

A sensitivity analysis could be performed at an identified spatial scale with the objective of identifying sensitivity hotspots in a certain area. It could also be made from a sector perspective on the main goals and operations of your organisation. It then aims at mapping the activities or parts of the system that would be most severely affected by the climate (and socio-economic stressors) or on how the climatic and socio-economic stressors aggravate or relieve existing challenges and operations.

It is essential to have in-depth knowledge and experience of current weaknesses and strengths in the targeted area or sector in order to identify the sensitive areas in the future.

- If you are interested in overall economic and social development, staff should be invited from departments dealing with regional development and long-term planning as well as from the strategic level of the main technical infrastructure departments, such as water and sewage, electricity, traffic, healthcare, emergency services, etc.

- If you work within a specific sector, you could work at the strategic level, looking at how the climate and socio-economic stressors affect your strategic goals.

- If you are more interested in the operations of your organisation/department you should make sure that you invite the people actually operating and maintaining this technical system. They will possess valuable knowledge about their system’s weakest and most sensitive parts.

- Also make sure that you invite your users, as identified in Exercise A - Mapping the stakeholders, if you think this is necessary..

The results of this exercise will provide input to Exercise VII.


This exercise aims at identifying the most sensitive areas in the areas or sectors, that is the activities and elements that will be most influenced by the climatic and socio-economic stressors (identified in Exercises II and III). 

Input data

Results from Exercise II - Climatic stressor mapping and
Exercise III - Socio-economic stressor mapping


1. A list of the most sensitive sectors and/or activities or how climatic and socio-economic stressors aggravate or relieve the goals and operations of my area or sector.

2. Identification of possible knowledge gaps in terms of how a specific activity will be impacted by climate and socio-economic change.

Material and preparation

  • Material: pens of different color, camera, flipchart sized papers.

  • Prepare a short presentation of the local socio-economic scenario identified in Exercise I. If this Exercise was not completed, make use of the major climatic and socio-economic stressors as well as the major features of future society that were brought up in Exercise C - Challenges and chances generated by climate change.

  • Prepare a list of sensitive activities (from Table 1).

  • Prepare flipchart sized papers containing the top-listed climate and socio-economic stressors identified in Exercises II and III (make sure that they are formulated in a meaningful way for your local area or economic sector).

  • The Process Leader decides whether to include any hypothetical extreme climate or socio-economic events. Evaluating hypothetical extremes is useful to illuminate the weakest spots and strengths.

  • Decide how you would like to arrange the identification of sensitive parts. You may find it helpful to use the information in climate change impacts on the Baltic Sea Region containing several climate impact scenarios. You may prepare a map (if you think this is appropriate for your application, for instance if you work with regional long-term planning), lists of main challenges and chances (perhaps previously identified in other projects) or strategic goals. 

Table 1. Sensitive activities, their climatic and socio-economic stressors (can be downloaded from the Related files on the right)

Sensitive activities Climate stressors/Extreme events or impacts Socio-economic stressors

Exercise instructions

  1.  The Process Leader presents the exercise.

  2.  The Process Leader presents the major features from your chosen local socio-economic scenario.

  3.  In the first step the group will identify what they think are the most sensitive activities in their local area or economic sector. The Process Leader should present a map (if prepared) or list containing, for instance, a number of potentially sensitive activities. Let each group member think individually about how they think their local area, organization or economic sector is currently affected by climate variability. Present your ideas one at a time and discuss them in the larger group. Add them to the left column of Table 1. Start with the challenges and then proceed with the chances in order to facilitate your discussion.

  4.  You now have a list containing a number of sensitive activities that are already exposed to climate variability. Now it is turn to add the dimension of climate change. Discuss each sensitive activity in relation to the identified climate stressors from Exercise II. Note if they are likely to be affected more or less in the future. They can be sensitive to more than one stressor. Put each climate stressor in the table.

  5.  Try to evaluate the consequences that the stressors would have for the local area or economic sector. Try to be specific and describe what parts are affected, etc. Then try to rank each sensitive activity according to the magnitude of the consequences. Mark the highest ranking activities (with the largest consequences) in the table with a star or with a certain color.

  6.  Discuss if you have information on how the sensitive parts are affected by the stressors or if you think this piece of information is missing. If you think data is missing, make sure you note that and decide how to acquire more knowledge about it.

  7.  If you have chosen to work with maps: try to indicate the sensitive activities and areas on the map. Not all sensitive activities and parts may be relevant to put on the map. If you work with strategic goals: try to describe how the climate stressor affects the ability to achieve that goal. If you work with operations of a technical system, try to mark the weakest spots on a map or how the climate stressors aggravate or alleviate your current problems and strengths.

  8. Repeat steps 4 to 6 for the socio-economic stressors that were identified in Exercise III. For each row in the table outlining one activity, try to describe the worst case scenarios. When you have done that, evaluate whether there are any risks for interaction between climatic and socio-economic stresses in your local area or economic sector. Try to describe the worst case of when a serious socio-economic and a climate stress occur simultaneously. What demands does this put on your ability to handle such situations?

  9. Now you should discuss hypothetical extreme climate or socio-economic events, if you have chosen to do so. The Process Leader presents the hypothetic scenarios and the group members discuss how the local area or economic sector would be affected. Please do not forget that this step of the exercise does not concern whether this change is likely or desirable.

Back to Exercise III - Socio-economic stressor mapping   
Go further to Exercise V - Identifying and ranking adaptive capacity