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Identifying Climate-Smart Solutions in SIDS and Coastal Cities using the Climate and Ocean Risk Vulnerability Index (CORVI)

Identifying Climate-Smart Solutions in SIDS and Coastal Cities using the Climate and Ocean Risk Vulnerability Index (CORVI)

Project Leads: Commonwealth Secretariat and the Stimson Center
Financial Support: United Kingdom’s Blue Planet Fund, ORRAA, and the United States Department of State
Location: Madagascar, Barbados, Sri Lanka and Kiribati


The Commonwealth Secretariat and the Stimson Center are developing a suite of rapid assessment tools, based on the Climate and Ocean Risk Vulnerability Index (CORVI). CORVI, supported by the Stimson Center, AXA XL, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, ORRAA, Bloomberg Philanthropies, TaiwanICDF, and the Commonwealth Secretariat, brings together stakeholders and governments to produce comprehensive risk profiles that help leaders make climate-smart decisions and investments. Originally designed for coastal cities, it is now also being applied to small islands.


Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and coastal cities are at the forefront of the climate crisis. Rising sea levels, extreme storms, and heat events amplify underlying economic and social concerns, such as expanding populations, ageing infrastructure, and poor governance. These interconnected risks threaten ocean and land-based ecosystems upon which millions depend for food and economic security. To combat these systemic risks, decision makers need information to help prioritise actions to build resilience through Nature-based Solutions (NbS) and climate-smart policies. Yet the rigorous data collection and integrated analysis necessary for the development and prioritisation of strategic policy options are too resource intensive for many small island and developing coastal state governments to pursue.


In response to this need, CORVI organises data and information across the land and seascape to provide decision makers with the complete risk picture they need to take action. Currently, there are eleven CORVI projects around the globe, with several more set to begin in 2023. ORRAA partners are also trialing a shorter rapid assessment alongside full CORVI protocols to meet the needs of different communities in less time.

The Commonwealth Secretariat, in partnership with the Stimson Center, has piloted the CORVI rapid assessment protocol in the Southern and Western Urban Corridor (Barbados), Tarawa (Kiribati), and Western Province (Sri Lanka). Government representatives shepherded the rapid assessment, received the results, and are now undergoing training and intergovernmental collaborations to better understand the information, available options, and next steps in building coastal-urban resilience. Among other options, the rapid assessment may lead to a further in-depth full CORVI assessment. It has also provided guidance to national governments in the development of climate-smart decision making, including NbS, in order to strengthen ecological and economic resilience.

Scalability and Next Steps

As the scale of the climate crisis grows, assessments which integrate financial, ecological, and political data are critical for decision makers to identify interdependent ocean and climate-related risks, maximise resources, make proactive decisions, and avoid costly mistakes. Further steps are underway to standardise the CORVI methodology, work with partners to implement assessment findings, and conduct additional assessments.

Results from the rapid assessment protocol are being shared with all 56 Commonwealth countries. With support through the Commonwealth Blue Charter’s Ocean and Climate Change Action Group, championed by Fiji, and the United States Department of State, the Stimson Center will analyse the successes and lessons learned from the rapid assessment pilots to date, and determine what changes are needed to standardised the rapid assessment protocol and scale this approach to new geographies.

The Stimson Center has conducted full CORVI assessments for Mombasa (Kenya), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Kingston (Jamaica), and Castries (Saint Lucia), with four additional assessments to be completed by the end of 2022 in St. Kitts and Nevis, Fiji, Philippines, and Bangladesh. In partnership with the Government of Madagascar and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA), it will conduct a full CORVI assessment in Toamasina, Madagascar in 2023.