Climate Vulnerability Assessment for Adaptation Planning in India Using a Common Framework


This report was written by the Indian Institute of Technology, Mandi and Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Science (IIS), Bengaluru. The Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, released the report in association with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Embassy of Switzerland. 

Focusing on India's climate crisis, this report identifies the most vulnerable states and districts, and presents the vulnerability index (VI) for states – which lies between 0 and 1 (0 being the lowest VI and 1 the highest). It considers the diverse climate conditions across districts due to distinct exposures and ecosystem vulnerabilities. The research for the report was conducted between 2019 and 2020. The report stresses on the need to also create a 'Risk Index' for states, involving state climate change centres funded by the Department of Science and Technology. 

The report outlines key drivers of climate vulnerability (the report defined ‘vulnerability’ as the ‘internal property of a system’) in states, presenting specific climate adaptation measures. This relative vulnerability assessment aids in prioritizing plans and investments. Of the 29 states, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, and West Bengal are identified as being ‘highly vulnerable’ to climate risks. 

This 184-page document is divided into three primary parts: State-level vulnerability profile of India (Part I); District-level vulnerability profile of India (Part II); Vulnerability assessment by the states & UTs (Part III).


  1. The report observes that the district-level vulnerability indices exhibit a narrow range of 0.34 to 0.75. Notably, Assam, Bihar, and Jharkhand stand out with over 60 per cent of their districts falling in the highly vulnerable category.

  2. According to this report, sensitivity refers to how much a system or species is influenced by climate variability or change, whether positively or negatively. This measures the primary impact of a hazard – which could be direct (e.g., change in crop yields due to temperature shifts) or indirect (e.g., increased coastal flooding from rising sea levels).

  3. In the state-level assessment, the report finds that Mizoram and Chhattisgarh are two of the most vulnerable states in the country susceptible to climate risks.

  4. In 109 of the 153 most vulnerable districts across the country, the proportion of land allocated to horticulture is quite low. Horticulture trees are consistent and alternate sources of income, when compared to agriculture. This is because they are less susceptible to climate risks such as rainfall variability and droughts. The absence of horticulture in these districts increases their vulnerability to climate-related challenges.

  5. The report states that climate variability and change have a direct impact on the productivity of natural resources which leads to effects on users and the broader social and economic frameworks they support. Therefore, high reliance on natural resources for income generation increases an area’s vulnerability to climate risk.

  6. Vulnerability indices are relative measurements, the report states. All districts or states are vulnerable, but some are relatively more vulnerable than others.

  7. The report states that people with extremely low incomes are among the most vulnerable groups to climate change. The report states that they have little to no financial capital – this makes it difficult for them to adapt to climate risks and its impacts.

    Focus and Factoids by Madhumita Rajgopal.


Indian Institute of Technology, Mandi and Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati


Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India