How can Tribes use vulnerability assessments?

Vulnerability assessments identify how ecosystems, resources, livelihoods, and cultures are expected to be affected by climate change. Vulnerability assessments have several uses. With a vulnerability assessment your tribe can:

  1. Prioritize Impacts and Vulnerabilities: Vulnerability assessments can be used to prioritize impacts for further research or for taking action to reduce the impacts (also known as adaptation).
  2. Plan for Adaptation or Resilience: Vulnerability assessments often lead into adaptation or resilience plans that identify actions the tribe can take to reduce or mitigate vulnerabilities.
  3. Build Capacity: The vulnerability assessment process itself also helps to build capacity and buy-in for addressing climate change impacts within.

An assessment of climate change vulnerability can be completed as a separate process, but many of the tribal examples provided on this website include a vulnerability assessment as part of an adaptation plan or larger tribal strategic plan to address climate change.


Below are tools and resources that highlighting how tribes can use vulnerability assessments

Guidebook: Adaptation Toolkit

ITEP Adaptation Planning Tool Kit

A toolkit developed by the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) provides a collection of templates and other resources to assist tribes in their climate change adaptation planning process. The materials provided are not "one-size-fits-all" solutions, and users are encouraged to modify the materials to better represent the needs and priorities of their own tribe. The template includes a Climate Change Adaptation Planning Worksheet that guides the user through the process of using a vulnerability assessment to identify risks and priorities.
Prepare for Impacts

Guide: Adaptation Planning

Tribally-Focused Climate Change Adaptation Guidebook

The Tribally-Focused Climate Change Adaptation Guidebook is a resource that guides the user through the full process of completing a vulnerability assessment, prioritizing vulnerabilities, setting adaptation goals, and prioritizing actions to reduce the impacts of climate change. This guide explains how the vulnerability assessment fits within the process.
Link to Guide: Available August 2018



Below are examples of tribal vulnerability assessments

Example: Swinomish Tribe

Swinomish Climate Change Initiative Climate Adaptation Action Plan

After completing their vulnerability assessment, the Swinomish tribe used the information to prioritize vulnerabilities and actions to reduce these vulnerabilities in their Climate Adaptation Action Plan.
Swinomish Climate Adaptation Action Plan

Example: Salish Kootenai

The Climate Change Strategic Plan of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Climate Change Strategic Plan “sets forth the foundation for developing effective, culturally-sensitive climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies needed to ensure healthy social, environmental, and build environments on the Flathead Reservation.” A vulnerability assessment was conducted as part of the process to develop the plan. Following the vulnerability assessment, the plan identifies preparedness goals and actions that the Tribe can take to address climate change.
Read the Climate Change Strategic Plan


Back to Top