Press Release

New Climate and Ocean Risk Tool Helps Coastal Cities Make Smart Investments that Build Resilience to Climate Change

Washington, DC – The Stimson Center has unveiled a new Climate and Ocean Risk Vulnerability Index (CORVI), designed to help governments, businesses, and financial institutions assess climate risk in coastal cities and pinpoint areas of action to adapt to the climate emergency.

Coastal cities in emerging economies and Small Island Developing States are at the forefront of the climate emergency. Rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and extended heatwaves are amplifying the vulnerability of city residents who are often coping with poverty, unemployment, crime, aging infrastructure, and increased migration into cities. Over the next decade, the global population is expected to increase to ten billion, with about 40 percent of the world’s population living within 100 kilometers of the coast. Climate-related risks intersect with existing social, economic, and political vulnerability to degrade the economic, food, and environmental security of coastal cities and their residents.

With the onset of the hurricane season, citizens in coastal nations now face the duel threat of climate change and COVID-19. With financial resources stretched as never before, decision makers need targeted risk information to build resilience where it matters most.

Decision making for climate change adaptation requires a cross-sectoral approach to capture the vulnerabilities in social, economic, and environmental systems. The firstCORVI report shows that by assessing relative risk across 10 categories and 96 indicators, CORVI builds a coastal city risk profile for decision makers.

Read the report:

Read the explainer:

“In today’s resource constrained environment it’s crucial for us to get localized risk information into the hands of governments, international financial institutions, development organizations, and insurers, so they can make smart investment decisions and take urgent action to address the climate crisis facing coastal cities,” said Sally Yozell, one of the authors of the report and Director of the Environmental Security Program at the Stimson Center.  

“Risk is a function of hazard, exposure and vulnerability, and the increasing global population and movement of populations towards the coast and cities is likely to lead to more people being exposed to natural catastrophes,” said Andrew MacFarlane Bermuda and London Head of Reinsurance and Pricing and leader of the Public Sector Practice Group at AXA XL. “CORVI will help us develop an even greater understanding of the factors contributing to coastal cities’ vulnerabilities and demonstrate where there is a need for increased resilience. We’re proud to have supported the Stimson Center in this important work.”

CORVI was first announced at the Ocean Risk Summit in 2018 [link], with initial findings communicated at the sixth annual Our Oceans Conference [link] 2019 in Oslo, during a panel   keynoted by former Secretary of State for the United States, John Kerry. CORVI was developed in response to the need for city-level tools to help decision makers in coastal cities of emerging economies, including small island developing states, make smart investments to build resilience. This tool provides a comprehensive, city-level risk profile, which assesses diverse factors that limit a coastal city’s capacity to respond to climate and ocean threats.

CORVI was initially developed with support from AXA XL and has since broadened its partners to include the Ocean Policy Research Institute of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Findings from first CORVI Risk Profiles

CORVI was first piloted in Castries, Saint Lucia and Kingston, Jamaica. Each risk profile highlights at risk areas which decision makers can use to guide their investment decisions.

Castries, Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia is a leader among Caribbean states working to prioritize responses to climate change. Yet at the same time it suffers from climate and ocean risks. In Castries, CORVI scores show that vulnerabilities are concentrated under ecological and financial risk. These include a lack of economic diversification due to the heavy reliance on tourism which drives its economy; ecosystem degradation; and the vulnerability of key infrastructure to the physical impacts of storms and sea level rise. Further, and partly as a consequence of its urbanization, the Castries-Gros Islet urban corridor continues to face issues relating to fresh and marine water quality.

Read the Castries Risk Profile:

Kingston, Jamaica

The Government of Jamaica has been recognized globally for its leadership in building resilience to climate change. CORVI findings show that Kingston’s diverse economy lowers its vulnerability to extreme weather events, as it is not dependent on one industry for its economic security. However, degraded marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs and mangrove forests, impact Kingston’s ability to combat climate risks. In addition, flooding in Kingston is made worse by construction near watersheds surrounding the city and poor waste management practices within the city. Further, relatively high levels of crime in certain neighborhoods can increase the risk posed by extreme weather events.

Read the Kingston Risk Profile:

Future Plans. CORVI is expanding quickly. In 2020 and 2021, CORVI is expanding to East Africa and the Pacific region to build to new regional datasets, and conduct detailed city assessment in Mombasa Kenya, Dar es Salaam Tanzania, and Suva, Fiji. Moving forward, the Stimson Center is also supporting partners to conduct additional assessments in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Stimson Center’s Environmental Security program explores the array of environmental threats, both human and natural, that have the potential to undermine national, regional, or global security.

The Stimson Center is a nonpartisan policy research center working to protect people, preserve the planet, and promote security & prosperity. More at


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