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Climate change / Environment / Nonprofits

This new tool aims to help policymakers combat climate risk in coastal cities

The Stimson Center in D.C. developed the Climate and Ocean Risk Vulnerability Index, which uses empirical and expert survey data to measure ecological, financial and political risk.

The Stimson Center's CORVI research teams. (Courtesy photo)

With the effects of climate change looming and gaining attention as a critical issue for countries across the world, this new online tool looks to help decision makers determine solutions for coastal cities.

The Stimson Center, a D.C.-based nonpartisan policy research center working to preserve the planet, announced the Climate and Ocean Risk Vulnerability Index (CORVI) at the sixth annual Our Oceans Conference in Oslo, Norway, on Oct. 24.

CORVI, developed by the Stimson Center’s Environmental Security Program, is an online tool that uses empirical and expert survey data to measure ecological, financial and political risk across 10 categories and 95 sub-indicators, giving policymakers insights into the challenges their cities face.

“Given the importance of coastal cities to the future prosperity of many countries and the world, having a way to prioritize climate risks for policymakers was very much where CORVI tries to fill that gap,” said Jack Stuart, a research associate for the Environmental Security Program.

Developed with support from insurance company AXA’s property and casualty division, AXA XL, and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, this project comes just one month after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere declared an ocean emergency, forecasting more intense storms, sea level rise, coastal flooding, marine heat waves, coral reef corrosion and fish stock depletion.

CORVI is unique in that it is a city-based index, differing from many indexes which operate on national scales. The use of city-level empirical data and input from stakeholders within each city allows for the index to better accurately assess the specific risks that the coastal city is facing.

“CORVI prioritizes action and is uniquely comprehensive, setting the standard for identifying climate and ocean risk to coastal cities,” said Sally Yozell, CORVI project leader and director of the Stimson Center Environmental Security Program, in a statement. “Policymakers can use it to drive funding to areas of greatest risk. Cities have to build the capacity and resilience they need before it’s too late.”

The index was successfully piloted in two Caribbean cities: Castries, Saint Lucia, and Kingston, Jamaica. In 2020, the Stimson Center will complete assessments in the East African cities of Mombasa, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and work with partners to complete assessments in Fiji and other nations in the Pacific Region.

“Our goal is that it can become a global index and a standard for the future,” Stuart said. “We very much want CORVI to be the index of the future for anyone who’s interested about quantifying climate risk for their specific city.”


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