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Climate change is the fastest growing global threat to our heritage.

Climate impacts include rising temperatures, sea level rise, extreme precipitation, flooding, coastal erosion, drought, worsening wildfires, and human displacement.

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Today, around the world there are over 1,100 World Heritage properties – natural, cultural and mixed. While these are ‘the best-of-the best’ globally, many of these properties are already experiencing significant negative impacts and damage from climate change.

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The Climate Vulnerability Index (CVI) is a rapid assessment tool that is distinct from other vulnerability assessments in that it evaluates:

  • OUV Vulnerability; and
  • Community Vulnerability

for all types of World Heritage properties.

The Climate Vulnerability Index (CVI), developed at James Cook University, is a rapid assessment tool to systematically assess climate change vulnerability of World Heritage (WH) properties. The CVI is based on a risk assessment approach, but differs from previous vulnerability assessments as it comprises two distinct stages, assessing:

  • OUV Vulnerability (OUV = Outstanding Universal Value, the central concept for World Heritage); and
  • Community Vulnerability-based on the economic, social and cultural dependencies upon the WH property, and the adaptive capacity of these to cope with climate change,

for all types of World Heritage properties (cultural, natural and mixed).

Both results of vulnerability are highly relevant for many groups including the site managers, the responsible management agencies, the businesses that are dependent on the property and the local communities around each WH property, especially as the CVI assesses the extent to which they may be able to adapt.

The CVI is increasingly becoming acknowledged, both within Australia and internationally, as a systematic way to assess the impacts of climate change upon World Heritage properties in a transparent and repeatable way.

CVI Partners


JCU Logo
ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies logo
Union of Concerned Scientists logo
International Council on Monuments and Sites logo
Australian Marine Conservation Society logo