Understanding the multi-faceted nature of vulnerability and exposure is a prerequisite for determining how weather and climate events contribute to the occurrence of disasters, and for designing and implementing effective adaptation and disaster risk management strategies.

Vulnerability and exposure are dynamic, varying across temporal and spatial scales, and depend on economic, social, geographic, demographic, cultural, institutional, governance, and environmental factors (high confidence). Individuals and communities are differentially exposed and vulnerable and this is based on factors such as wealth, education, race/ethnicity/religion, gender, age, class/caste, disability, and health status. Lack of resilience and capacity to anticipate, cope with, and adapt to extremes and change are important causal factors of vulnerability.

Extreme and non-extreme weather and climate events also affect vulnerability to future extreme events, by modifying the resilience, coping, and adaptive capacity of communities, societies, or social-ecological systems affected by such events (high confidence). At the far end of the spectrum – low-probability, high-intensity events – the intensity of extreme climate and weather events and exposure to them tend to be more pervasive in explaining disaster loss than vulnerability in explaining the level of impact. But for less extreme events – higher probability, lower intensity – the vulnerability of exposed elements plays an increasingly important role (high confidence). The cumulative effects of small- or medium-scale, recurrent disasters at the sub-national or local levels can substantially affect livelihood options and resources and the capacity of societies and communities to prepare for and respond to future disasters.

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