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SUVA, Fiji Islands (July 21, 1999 – PACNEWS)---The South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), requested to develop an Environmental Vulnerability Index (EVI) by the Forum Secretariat, has now completed a preliminary study using the new index that involved Australia, Fiji and Tuvalu. But SOPAC said the EVI will require further refinement before it can become fully operational.

The index is based on a theoretical framework that identified three aspects of vulnerabilities; they are risks to the environment, ability of the environment to cope with the risks and ecosystem integrity.

Craig Pratt, environmental scientist with SOPAC, delivered a paper at a recent Pacific Science Congress in Sydney on the subject.

"What we are trying to create is an index which summarizes all the issues of risks to the environment, which not only include things like natural risks of cyclones, floods and geological events like earthquakes, but also threats of human activities inclusive of things like pollution and industrial wastes," Pratt said.

He said the index, developed as a management tool, will be used to determine a country’s environmental risk status and assist in the development of policies to mitigate against threats.

"We need to quantify vulnerability so that internationally countries can use their index to highlight their vulnerability risks, so they can show donors the obstacles they face and request special preferences or aid to overcome these problems," the SOPAC scientist said.

"Our first test indicators, which had about 57 environmental indicators, showed there is a clear difference between countries like Tuvalu and Australia. According to our tests, Tuvalu is more vulnerable and the index supports this. This is in terms of exposures to cyclones, floods, and human activities like pollution and industrial wastes. For Australia, the greater land mass and a variety of other issues (help to make the vulnerability less)," Pratt said.

The results of the tests are preliminary and based on very limited data, he added.

(NOTE: For additional information about SOPAC, see:

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