Defining Vulnerable Communities in the Context of Climate Adaptation

Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program (ICARP)
Created: 3/25/2020 -


The Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program (ICARP) was established by Senate Bill 246. Through its activities, the Program aims to develop holistic strategies to coordinate climate activities at the state, regional, and local levels. One of the Program’s main components is the Technical Advisory Council (TAC), which brings together state and local government, non-profit and private sector practitioners, scientists, and community leaders to help coordinate activities that better prepare California for the impacts of a changing climate.

In 2017, the ICARP Technical Advisory Council developed a vision statement that expresses the characteristics of a resilient California, as well as principles that guide how adaptation actions should be implemented to achieve this vision. The Council adopted the Vision and Principles at the September 2017 meeting with the condition that the Council define “vulnerable communities”, a term that is referenced throughout the Vision and Principles. Following a series of workgroup meetings, a definition was adopted in April of 2018.

While the Council’s definition of “vulnerable communities” provides clarity on the underlying factors of community vulnerability, and how these are exacerbated by climate impacts, a definition alone may not provide the level of detail needed to take actionable steps within the context of climate adaptation plans and implementation actions.

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, with input from the ICARP Technical Advisory Council, developed this resource guide as a starting point for practitioners to use when first considering how to define vulnerable communities in an adaptation context.

Published On


Adaptation Phase
Sector Addressed
Climate Justice
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Capacity Building
North America
United States