An application of the Climate Vulnerability Index for the Sukur Cultural Landscape

Jon Day, Scott Heron, Ishanlosen Odiau, Jane Downes, Eugene Itu, Aliyu Abd, Brenda Ekwurzel, Anthony Sham, William Megarry

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Climate change is a major risk to World Heritage (WH) and many sites are already experiencing impacts from climate change related hazards. This report outlines the results of applying the Climate Vulnerability Index (CVI) to Sukur Cultural Landscape, a WH property in northeastern Nigeria. The CVI methodology is a technique to assess rapidly the vulnerability of cultural and natural WH by identifying realised and potential impacts of climate change to both Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and the associated community.
The application of the CVI for Sukur provided many important precedents, being the first time that the CVI was applied in an African WH property and in a cultural landscape-inscribed property. It was also the first using a ‘blended workshop’ format whereby most workshop participants were at the American University of Nigeria in Yola, whilst other participants joined the workshop online. The CVI workshop took place 19th-24th September 2021 and involved site managers, academics, community representatives, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and responsible management agencies. The workshop was preceded by preparatory webinars examining key values, climate change, and economic and social information. For the CVI, six key values were drawn from the Sukur Statement of OUV, recognising the: exceptional cultural landscape; ancient settlement that still flourishes; Hidi spirituality; traditional indigenous architecture; cultural continuity/living culture; and iron smelting technology. Within the CVI process, participants selected the year 2050 as the future timescale on which to assess vulnerability. Under a high-emissions scenario (Shared Socioeconomic Pathway, SSP5-8.5) in which greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase through fossil-fuel based social and economic development, annual average daily-maximum temperature is projected to increase by 1.1-1.4°C (ca. 2050) from the historical period (1995-2014). By mid-century, an additional 1-1.5 months of hot days (>35°C) are projected to occur each year, compared with the historical period. Annual rainfall for the region is projected to increase by 7-11% (ca. 2050) from the historical period, with rainfall during the wettest 5-day period showing a similar increase (10- 17%). The mid-century projected annual maximum number of consecutive dry days is consistent with the historical period (136 days). Participants identified the three climate stressors likely to have the greatest impact on the OUV for Sukur as: • Drought (severity, duration, frequency); • Temperature trend (air); and • Storm intensity and frequency. An example of actual and further potential impact of drought and increased temperature is desertification which has reportedly led to plant biodiversity loss, in turn affecting the availability of vegetation for traditional construction. It was determined that the OUV Vulnerability for Sukur Cultural Landscape was Low, indicating that while some loss of some attributes is expected to occur, it is unlikely to cause persistent or lasting effects on the OUV of the property. The Community Vulnerability was assessed as Low, acknowledging the high level of adaptive capacity within the community. It was concluded the changes that might be expected over the next 30 years (ca. 2050 scenario) may not have a big effect on the values that convey the OUV of the property or upon the Sukur community in terms of the potential impact upon economic, social and cultural connections to those values. The application of the CVI for Sukur demonstrated the value of the process for cultural properties in identifying key points of vulnerability to climate change as well as opportunities to manage impacts to both the landscape and the associated community.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAbuja, Nigeria
Number of pages60
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'An application of the Climate Vulnerability Index for the Sukur Cultural Landscape'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this