Structural Change and Social Vulnerability in Energy Producing Regions – Vulnerability Assessment Options in the Hunter Valley

Mr Warrick Jordan1

1International Centre for Balanced Land Use, University Of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia


Global energy market change is accelerating and energy production exhibits considerable regional concentration. Consequently, specific regions and populations are disproportionately exposed to the supply-side socioeconomic impacts of energy shifts. This has prompted discussion on the obligations of government, industry and other actors to ensure ‘Just Transitions’ (provision of decent work on a pathway to societally-determined sustainable development outcomes) and equitable structural adjustment (assistance for those severely exposed or impacted). To be effective, affordable, and perceived as fair, such response measures require targeting to ‘vulnerable’ areas, communities and individuals. However, fine-grained assessment of the distribution of ‘vulnerability’ in energy regions is limited. Identifying vulnerable groups is challenging. For example, there are a variety of competing and overlapping conceptual definitions. Among other challenges, there are also gaps between the information types typically used for policy decisions and resource prioritisation on one hand, and those that adequately capture local circumstances and needs. Approaches to identifying the vulnerable in energy producing regions are explored through a specific example (the Hunter Valley, New South Wales).


Warrick Jordan is a PhD Candidate at the University of Newcastle with an interest in the social impact and management of economic change in regions. He is actively involved in the transition process for the Liddell Power Station in the Hunter Valley, has a background in natural resource management, and completed his undergraduate studies in Geography at the University of Tasmania in 2010.

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