About the project

What is the Climate Vulnerability Index?

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: Outstanding Universal Value, the central concept for World Heritage); and

Community Vulnerability: Is 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.

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.

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.

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

  • OUV Vulnerability
  • Community Vulnerability

for all types of World Heritage properties.

What is the CVI Video from Dr Scott Heron and Jon Day


The Heart of Neolithic Orkney was the first cultural World Heritage Site to undergo CVI assessment, following an initial trial of the tool over 8000 miles away at Shark Bay in Western Australia – a natural site which encompasses 2.2 million hectares of diverse landscapes, animals and plant life. As part of the CVI workshop, delegates visited historic sites that comprise the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage site, including Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar. The assessment also included a public lecture in Kirkwall on the evening of Thursday 25 April, which offered the local community an opportunity to find out more about the project and the challenges of managing the World Heritage site in changing climate.

The results of the Climate Vulnerability Index (CVI) assessment for the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage site was presented to participants at the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee in Baku, Azerbaijan. A report was also published by Historic Environment Scotland and can be downloaded here.

Historic Environment Scotland also produced this short video about the workshop.

The report recommends wider application of the CVI methodology, both in Scotland and internationally, highlighting its significant potential to enhance understanding and support adaptation to address climate change challenges at World Heritage sites worldwide. The CVI-Africa Project explored this potential at two World Heritage Sites in Africa.