Social Vulnerability Index (SVI)

Tool description

The tool compiles census data for indicators such as housing quality, unemployment rate, and average education levels (amongst others) to analyze the vulnerability of a given community to climate change. The tool also provides an index or score of socio-economic vulnerability for each census-defined small area within a region of interest. These data can be used in tandem with assessments of bio-physical impacts from climate change, or can be used as a standalone resource to inform decision-making. The data provided by this tool allow users to better understand climate change risks for a given community, and to compare risks across regions using an easy-to-use map interface. The tool is intended to support decision-makers in municipal government and in industry sectors such as transport, water and agriculture, to assist both climate change adaptation and the transition to a carbon neutral economy.


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Complexity explanation

The tool requires some level of customization that require support by tool developers/consultants to gather input data from National CENSUS and additional city-specific information (if needed).

Benefits of using the tool

  • Provides an easy-to-use interface allowing users to quickly examine and visualize zones of relative socio-economic vulnerability.   
  • Can be updated as new census data is collected. The indicators that comprise the index can also be tailored to flooding and heat stress, if needed.  
  • Complements bio-physical impact assessments to help users to understand the relative sensitivity of any particular location to a given climate hazard.  
  • Provides important socio-economic data for the development of climate change adaptation, disaster risk management, and urban and regional development plans.

City Hub experiences

Cork is using the SVI Tool in combination with other REACHOUT tools, and as part of its statutory obligations to develop and implement a Local Authority Climate Action Plan in 2023

Athens is using the SVI tool to identify areas of high vulnerable population density and combine to the output of Thermal Assessment Tool – this will allow Athens to target better its heat-related work.

Logroño is using the tool to better define and understand the SVI with regard to the heat and flood hazard and be able to identify (neighbourhoods) of high social vulnerability Additionally, Logroño is interested on combine the social vulnerability outcome maps with the Thermal Assessment Tool – heatmaps, to target better its heat-related risk.

Gdynia will use the SVI Tool in conjunction with the Climate Resilient Cities Tool in order to support spatial adaptation decisions for the city.


Triple-A phases

The tool can be used in the following Triple-A phases:
  • Analysis phase to understand a community’s socio-economic vulnerability.
  • Action phase to identify, evaluate and prioritize the most robust and equitable adaptation measures.
  • Ambition phase to directly inform decision-makers’ risk prioritization and identification of objectives.



Not available yet



Denise McCullagh,

More information at

The user interface for the SVI Tool is currently under development and a draft version can be shared with tool users in the interim.

The link to Guidance

An overview of the methodology:
Fitton, JM, O’Dwyer, B, Maher, B (Forthcoming) ‘Developing a social vulnerability to environmental hazards index to inform climate action in Ireland’. Irish Geography, 54(2), 157-180 (available upon request)


This tool can be used effectively in combination with several other REACHOUT tools to better understand climate change impacts and risks. For instance, social vulnerability index (SVI) can be incorporated into damage model layers of the FloodAdapt Tool or in the Dynamic Adaptation Policy Pathways (DAPP) generator, and with the Crowdsourcing Tool (CAS) to inform adaptation planning decisions of local government. Additionally, the social vulnerability maps regarding the heat hazard can also be integrated with the heatmaps developed by Tecnalia to better visualize the risk.

The climate story of Gdynia​

Short summary: A story about Jan and Maria during extreme precipitation.

Theme: Flooding

End user: Citizens

Link to the story: under construction