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BRIEFING ON VULNERABILITY INDICES

After Plenary was adjourned, Professor Lino Briguglio of the University of Malta briefed delegates on the construction of a vulnerability index with the aim of adjusting GNP per capita statistics to allow for economic fragility. The question of creating a vulnerability index had been raised by several delegates during the course of last week's general debate. Briguglio pointed out that although some islands have a high GNP per capita, they are still economically weak as they are subject to outside forces beyond their control. His vulnerability index does not measure poverty, but, rather, fragility and weakness. He used three basic criteria for constructing the index: simplicity, ease of comprehension and suitability for international comparisons. He tried to build an index that relied as much as possible on existing statistical data, although many islands do not have adequate data. He focused on three variables: exposure to foreign economic conditions (as it reduces ability to take control of affairs); remoteness; and proneness to disaster. He did not use environmental fragility because there is not enough data available. The resulting index included 113 countries including 19 island countries and 13 small island developing States (SIDS). He found, not surprisingly, that the most vulnerable countries were the SIDS. Although this is a reality that was known, it is now quantitatively proven and numbers attract attention.