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Compendium on methods and tools to evaluate impacts of, and vulnerability and adaptation to, climate change

Adoption of Existing Socioeconomic Scenarios
Description The UNEP Handbook describes an approach to developing sectoral assessments of impacts and adaptation. In general, analysts are encouraged to use existing scenarios of both socioeconomic conditions and climate change, to integrate them, and to develop adaptation strategies.

The definition of socioeconomic includes demographic and economic data, technology, legislation, culture, decision-making processes – “everything that shapes a society.” Table 2.1 in the handbook lists relevant variables for each of the sectors covered (water resources, coastal zones, agriculture, human health, energy, forestry, livestock and grasslands, wildlife and biodiversity, and fisheries). Sources for data-based scenarios are given, and using multiple scenarios is recommended. Specific guidance is sparse.
Appropriate Use The Handbook can be used for analyses of sectoral impacts and adaptation to climate change.
Scope Local, sectoral, regional, and national. However, sources for existing socioeconomic scenarios are global and regional only, except for the World Bank, which includes countries.
Key Output Scenarios that are either “borrowed” from the literature or “inspired” by historical trends and geographical analogues.
Key Input Qualitative and/or quantitative information on the sector of interest.
Ease of Use Relatively easy, especially if literature sources are used instead of primary data gathering and scenario development.
Training Required No training required.
Training Available No formal training currently offered.
Computer Requirements None, although data may be downloaded from sources such as the World Bank and manipulated by spreadsheet or other computer-based programs.
Documentation Feenstra, J.F., I. Burton, J.B. Smith, and R.S.J. Tol (eds.). 1998. Handbook on Methods for Climate Change Impact Assessment and Adaptation Strategies. Version 2.0. Available at pdf-icon
Applications The first phase of the Netherlands Climate Change Study Assistance Programme (NCCSAP) lists 17 countries where socioeconomic scenarios are being or will be developed. The projects’ synopses explicitly mention development of climate scenarios and socioeconomic scenarios to be used in the impact and adaptation studies. Information is on The book 'Climate Change in Developing Countries' mentioned on this site may be of interest as well.
Contacts for Framework, Documentation, Technical Assistance Dr. Michiel Van Drunen

Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam; e-mail:

Cost No cost
References See Documentation