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Trajectories of exposure and vulnerability of small islands to climate change

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Virginie K.E. Duvat
  • Alexandre K. Magnan
  • Russell M. Wise
  • John E. Hay
  • Ioan Fazey
  • Jochen Hinkel
  • Tim A. Stojanovic
  • Hiroya Yamano
  • Valérie Ballu


Publication details

JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
DateAccepted/In press - 28 Apr 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 31 May 2017
Issue number6
Early online date31/05/17
Original languageEnglish


This article advocates for a dynamic and comprehensive understanding of vulnerability to climate-related environmental changes in order to feed the design of adaptation future pathways. It uses the trajectory of exposure and vulnerability (TEV) approach that it defines as 'storylines of driving factors and processes that have influenced past and present territorial system exposure and vulnerability to impacts associated with climate variability and change.' The study is based on the analysis of six peer-reviewed Pacific island case studies covering various geographical settings (high islands vs low-lying reef islands, urban vs rural) and hazards associated with climate variability and change; that addressed the interactions between natural and anthropogenic driving factors; and adopted multidecadal past-to-present approaches. The findings emphasize that most urban and rural reef and high islands have undergone increasing exposure and vulnerability as a result of major changes in settlement and demographic patterns, lifestyles and economies, natural resources availability, and environmental conditions. The article highlights three generic and successive periods of change in the studied islands' TEV: from geopolitical and political over the colonization-to-political independence period; to demographic, socio-economic, and cultural from the 1960s to the 1980s; culminating in the dominance of demographic, socio-economic, cultural, and environmental drivers since the 1980s. Based on these empirical insights, the article emphasizes the existence of anthropogenic-driven path-dependency effects in TEV, thus arguing for the analysis of the temporal dimensions of exposure and vulnerability to be a prerequisite for science to be able to inform policy- and decision-making processes toward robust adaptation pathways.

Bibliographical note

© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

Funding: Corderie Royale de Rochefort; Regional Council of Poitou-Charentes; Conservatoire du Littoral; Fondation de France; Club Méditerranée; Communautés d'agglomération de La Rochelle et du Pays Rochefortais; Université populaire du Littoral Charentais 17; French National Research Agency. Grant Numbers: ANR-2011-JSH1-004 01, ANR-15-CE03-0003.

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