Why is it helpful to map social vulnerability and climate disadvantage?


1. The maps help to quantify many of the factors which are known to influence the impacts of flooding and high temperatures on well-being. They complement other forms of evidence available, such as that based on interviews, personal diaries and local knowledge and experience.


2. The maps include indicators which are not included in the index of multiple deprivation and which capture information about additional factors influencing social vulnerability. For example, data on tenancy and proxy indicators for potential lack of insurance availability.


3. The maps provide a local picture against a national benchmark and support comparative analysis. For example, this allows the count of extremely socially vulnerable neighbourhoods to be identified using the same threshold across England.  It also enables the position in a particular region or local authority to be compared to other regions and other local authorities in England (for other parts of the UK, please see the original report and its follow ups).1,2


4. Development of the maps involved the production of a transferable mapping framework.3 The maps have been created by developing an overall framework to understand the different elements of vulnerability that can be adapted to support further local analysis. For example, the mapping  framework can be adapted to other geographical units – e.g. at a finer geographical scale – or tailored to incorporate other data resources and particular local circumstances. The framework provides a transparent and consistent approach for assessing the potential for unequal impacts from climate and extreme weather events. More information about the concepts and how they have been applied can be found here: Where are the most disadvantaged communities in relation to climate impacts and extreme weather events?


5. The maps can be used as a platform for discussion and consideration of the issues by different stakeholders to look at the causes of vulnerability and potential responses in particular local areas. For example, these may include using measures to assist people on low incomes to access adaptation measures, developing policies to avoid placing vulnerable groups in certain types of housing, or using measures to manage temperatures such as through green infrastructure. More information about possible responses to the local information in the map tool is provided in the messages linked to key questions on this website.


6. The mapping work helps to highlight where evidence and data are lacking and where there is a particular need for further research to support future mapping exercises. Consider partnering with local Universities or research-led institutions to co-produce relevant evidence for your local area. For examples of such partnerships, see the Adaptation to address inequalities research case study and the EcoCities project - working with academic partners case study. See also the key recommendations from the mapping work in Section 5, above.



  1. Lindley, S. J., O'Neill, J., Kandeh, J., Lawson, N., Christian, R. and O'Neill., M (2011) Climate change, justice and vulnerability. Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
  2. Lindley and O’Neill (2013) Flood disadvantage in Scotland: mapping the potential losses in well-being.
  3. Link to 7_where_message_components figure