A profusion of definitions remains characteristic of vulnerability research and applications. Nevertheless, progression in the past decade toward a vulnerability/adaptation science has recognised six key attributes of social vulnerability.

Each implies different methodological approaches:

1. Vulnerability is the differential exposure to stresses experienced or anticipated by different exposure units.

2. Vulnerability is a dynamic process, changing on a variety of inter-linked time scales.

3. Social vulnerability is rooted in the actions and multiple attributes of human actors.

4. Social networks drive and bound vulnerability in the social, economic, political and
environmental interactions.

5. Vulnerability is constructed simultaneously on more than one scale.

6. Multiple stresses are inherent in integrated vulnerability of peoples, places and systems.

Building upon a typical water planning approach (such as WEAP ), four progressions are proposed in understanding vulnerability:

1. introduce differential social and economic vulnerability to catchment planning models

2. capture the dynamic element of vulnerable groups and their relationship to water
resources and catchment or regional planning

3. represent the multiple attributes of vulnerable groups and make the link to their ability to respond to stresses and threats

4. represent the decisions of actors (the managers and vulnerable groups) in the construction of adaptive systems (i.e. in the reduction of future vulnerability).

The basic elements of a variety of water resource vulnerability recipes are reviewed. Future directions include expanding the toolkit and scenarios of vulnerability across scales.

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