Ad Hoc Expert Group Meeting on Vulnerability Indices
15 Dec 1997 - 16 Dec 1997
New York
The ad hoc expert group on vulnerability indices, comprised of 22 participants and 17 observers, met at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 15-16 December 1997.

Mr. Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, welcomed attendees and opened the meeting. Mr. Desai recalled that the concept of vulnerability dated back to the UN Conference on Environment and Development. He suggested that the main task of the expert group was to make a professional assessment of vulnerability, and on the basis of their deliberations, to make recommendations on the quantitative parameters underlying the relative vulnerability of countries.

In a keynote statement, H.E. Mr. Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Ambassador of Samoa, drew attention to the inadequacy of current indicators in determining the social and economic strength of SIDS. He highlighted the need for a full and proper understanding of vulnerability based on specific and targeted technical assessments. Accurate vulnerability assessments would assist SIDS as they seek support from the international community for sustainable development.

Following two days of discussions, the expert group agreed that vulnerability indices are meant to reflect relative economic and ecological susceptibility to exogenous shocks. The vulnerability index is designed to identify which group of countries exceeds a threshold of vulnerability, at which they are particularly susceptible to risks and warrant special attention from agencies providing assistance. At the same time, the index and its components are intended to provide a multi-dimensional approach to boosting SIDS' resiliency. The group concurred that vulnerability indices should be based on indicators that are easy to comprehend and intuitively meaningful. Ultimately the indicators should allow for inter-country comparisons that show the relative vulnerability of SIDS and non-SIDS.
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