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The Coastal Risk Index (CRI)

The Coastal Risk Index (CRI): Developing a Risk Assessment Tool for Vulnerable Coastal Ecosystems and Communities

Project Lead: ORRAA
Supporting partners: AXA, University of California – Santa Cruz, IHE Delft
Financial Support: AXA, Government of Canada, United Kingdom’s Blue Planet Fund, the United States Department of State

Location: Global


The Coastal Risk Index (CRI) is an innovative modelling tool designed to calculate coastal flood hazards under different climate change scenarios and quantify the potential risk reduction benefits of coral reefs and mangroves for coastal communities around the world.

The Index can inform important decisions for both the public and private sector. It enables insurers to price risk more accurately, as well as support investors and the development sector in mapping both potential future liabilities and investment opportunities where nature-based solutions provide resilience benefits.   It also seeks to support public policymakers in understanding the exposure of their communities to coastal hazards while demonstrating the importance of proactive coastal ecosystem management in building resilience. This in turn could lead to more robust risk reduction strategies to protect and restore these natural assets around the world.


Coastal communities around the world are on the front line of climate change and a warming ocean. Coral reefs, mangroves, and other coastal ecosystems are a critical first line of defence for millions of people against mounting climate risks such as coastal flooding and storm surges. Coral reefs for example can dissipate up to 97% of wave energy, reducing the impact to coastlines. However, despite their role in protecting lives and property, their benefits are rarely accounted for in risk industry models, disaster risk reduction strategies, or development priorities.


The CRI is an innovative tool that provides compelling visualisations of flood risk levels today, in 2030 and 2050, including the anticipated impacts on communities and coastal assets. It will also assess the impact of flood risk on social and economic vulnerability and how nature-based solutions can be leveraged to build resilience in the most vulnerable communities.

Scalability and Next Steps

To maximise the CRI’s potential as a tool for local resilience practitioners and risk industry stakeholders, with financial support from the U.S. Department of State, a new publicly available data platform is under development that will support its deployment. This platform will also be supported by case studies to apply CRI data in a local context. The first, led by the University of California, Santa Cruz and also supported by the U.S., will assess coastal flood risk in the Dominican Republic to highlight the benefits of coral reefs and mangroves in reducing current and future hazards. The study will also examine whether flooding disproportionately impacts vulnerable people and how nature-based solutions can be leveraged to build resilience along the Dominican Republic’s coastline.