SEI Contact:

Thomas E. Downing

GEO-4: Environment for Development Vulnerability of people and the environment: challenges and opportunities

The fourth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-4) is the most comprehensive UN report on the environment. It assesses the current state of the world’s atmosphere, biodiversity, land, and water, describes the changes that have occurred since 1987, and identifies priorities for action. Nine SEI experts contributed to the development of the report between 2005 and 2007.

Focusing on the human dimensions of change, Chapter 7 of GEO-4 defines several “archetypes of vulnerability” and uses them to identify opportunities for tackling vulnerability and increasing human wellbeing while protecting the environment. Very different patterns of vulnerability are found in different regions of the world – in industrialised and developing countries, and urban and rural areas.

The archetype approach allows policymakers to place their particular situations within a broader context, encouraging connections to be made between regional and global issues and facilitating possible solutions.