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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, Stimson Center
Support: United Kingdom’s Blue Planet Fund and ORRAA
Location: Bridgetown and the urban corridor (Barbados), Tarawa (Kiribati), Western Province (Sri Lanka)

Summary 

The Commonwealth Secretariat and the Stimson Center are trialling a rapid climate risk assessment in Barbados, Kiribati, and Sri Lanka based on the methodology of the Climate and Ocean Risk Vulnerability Index (CORVI). CORVI, developed by ORRAA partners, the Stimson Center, AXA XL, and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, produces comprehensive risk profiles for coastal cities and helps leaders make climate-smart investments to build resilience. National governments and stakeholders representing diverse technical expertise work together to identify priority areas of climate risk. The Commonwealth Secretariat leads country engagement and advisory support, while the Stimson Center leads the analysis.

Challenge 

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 and climate-smart policies. However, comprehensive data on localised risk and vulnerability which is necessary for the development of successful solutions is often too resource intensive for countries to collect. 

Solution

The Commonwealth Secretariat, in partnership with the Stimson Center, is piloting a Rapid Assessment Protocol for SIDS and coastal cities, based on the methodology of the Climate and Ocean Risk Vulnerability Index (CORVI) and coordinated through the Commonwealth Blue Charter program. Government representatives will shepherd the Rapid Assessment, receive the results and undergo training 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 full CORVI assessment (which takes 12-18 months). The Rapid Assessment will also guide national governments in the development of climate-smart decision making, including nature-based solutions, in order to strengthen ecological and economic resilience.

With the help of in-country coordinators, local experts and champions were identified and the scope of the full CORVI Assessment was streamlined to cover priority risk areas. Workshops with 30-50 stakeholders from government, civil society, and the private sector have helped incorporate local expertise into the Rapid Assessment process. The project will compile risk scores and draft risk profiles for each pilot country before holding a final workshop to discuss the results and findings with stakeholders from each pilot country. Finally, the project will disseminate the results of the Rapid Assessment and discuss next steps with national governments. 

Scalability and Next Steps

Lessons learned from the pilot Rapid Assessment process will be shared with all 54 Commonwealth countries at project end. Successes and shortcomings of the Rapid Assessment approach will also be assessed to determine what changes might be required before scaling up for use more broadly across the Commonwealth (and globally by other implementing partners). In some cases, the Rapid Assessment may highlight further in-depth assessment needs. In all cases, clear ‘next steps’ options will be co-developed with national governments. It is anticipated that some of these options will lead to the development of in-situ projects to address critical climate-related risks.

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