Socio-environmental vulnerability index: a methodological proposal based on the case of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Abstract The term vulnerability has been more frequently used in several studies, striving to better understand the specificities and needs of different population groups. The scope of this study was to identify, characterize and analyze populations in situations of socio-environmental vulnerability in Rio de Janeiro city, consolidating social, economic, environmental, health and public security indicators in a synthesis index – the Socio-Environmental Vulnerability Index. The data sources used were the IBGE-2010 Demographic Census, the Geo-Rio Foundation and the Public Security Institute of the state of Rio de Janeiro. The methodology integrated Multicriteria Decision Analysis into a Geographic Information System. According to our results, the socio-environmental vulnerability in Rio de Janeiro city is aggravated by risk situations and environmental degradation. Those aspects are accentuated by the population density in shantytown areas, where the most disadvantaged strata exist in a process of environmental and urban exclusion. The study makes it possible to locate spatially vulnerable areas, emphasizing the importance of these tools to guide resource allocation, formulation and implementation of more effective public policies.