Social services - Adaptation

The adaptation measures of social services include drawing up an adaptation strategy for various customer groups in case of natural disasters and extreme weather events such as floods and heat waves. In addition, the needs of mental health work should be assessed with regard to the impacts of climate change.

Checklist

Information and communication

Do the residents have access to information regarding adaptation to climate change and advice for exceptional circumstances?

Strategies and programmes

Has the sector compiled an adaptation strategy and plan for exceptional situations? An adaptation strategy can be prepared in cooperation with the municipality's other sectors, for example.

Assessment of current status

Has the municipality assessed the impacts of climate change on the needs of environmental health care?

Assessment of current status

What kind of climate change impacts should the municipality be prepared for?

Attention to vulnerable population groups

In the social sector, climate change adaptation strategies are faced with the challenge of answering to the different needs of an extensive customer base. Since studies to the adaptation needs in the industry have only begun, instructions and best adaptation practices will be specified according as clarifications progress. Climate change can have a varying impact in different areas. Thus, there is no unambiguous adaptation method for social services, but the adaptation work in each municipality is begun with an impact inspection.

It has been stated that most vulnerable population groups with limited means, such as the elderly, children, ailing and low income people, suffer the most from the impacts of climate change. The number of elderly people grows rapidly so their needs should be paid particular attention to ensure help is available quickly enough in a crisis situation and afterwards. In addition, since they may have a weaker local knowledge, weaker social networks to cope with exceptional circumstances or an inadequate ability to understand for example notifications from authorities, residents speaking a foreign language or who have recently moved to the area may be at risk in exceptional circumstances.

Support and instructions for the local residents

Psychological impacts caused by climate change may form a notable part of the social impacts of climate change. In many cases, climate change is perceived as a heavy, global threat. In addition, experiencing natural disasters, such as floods and storms, may have an effect on the mental wellbeing by causing anxiety, fear and feeling of despair. Moreover, snowless winters and cloudy weather can increase depression. However, it is not yet possible to estimate how extensive the impact of darkening winters may be.

Mitigation of climate change and adaptation to it will change the lives of local residents in many ways. For their part, social services can inform the residents of the adaptation to climate change and provide advice and support in case of exceptional circumstances such as heat waves or floods.

 References [1], [2], [3]

References

  1. IPCC 2007. Climate Change 2007. Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 976 p. http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/publications_ipcc_fourth_assessment_report_wg2_report_impacts_adaptation_and_vulnerability.htm
  2. Sairinen, S., Järvinen, S. & Kohl, J. 2010. Ilmastonmuutoksen ja siihen sopeutumisen sosiaaliset vaikutukset maaseudulla. Publications of the University of Eastern Finland. Reports and Studies in Social Sciences and Business Studies No 1. 85 s. http://epublications.uef.fi/pub/urn_isbn_978-952-61-0170-5/urn_isbn_978-952-61-0170-5.pdf
  3. Ruuhela, R., Hiltunen, L., Venäläinen, A., Pirinen, P. & Partonen, T. 2009. Climate impact on suicide rates in Finland from 1971 to 2003. International Journal of Biometeorology Vol 53, No 2: 167-175. http://www.springerlink.com/content/0q756320t1228112/

Authors