Walton Family Foundation

Assessing Risk and Resilience in Coastal Louisiana


The Challenge

Existing risk assessment frameworks commonly use engineering approaches to address economic damages. Societal risk information can be quantified and made to fit these existing quantitative frameworks.

Information that cannot be easily quantified has tended to be disregarded and not integrated into existing risk assessment frameworks. This often includes measures of community vulnerability and resilience. The general challenge in developing a more integrated risk assessment requires a solid theoretical basis as well as methods and applications that will allow for the processing, interpretation, and communication of large amounts of risk information and data at different scales and in different locations.

The Approach

The primary objective of this research is to develop a holistic approach to integrated coastal risk mapping that incorporates aspects of social and economic vulnerability into established risk assessment frameworks with a goal of developing a practical trans-local methodology that can be adapted and utilized in various social and biophysical areas nationwide. To achieve these results, the Institute is developing an integrated risk mapping model that can capture how measures designed to reduce the exposure and susceptibility of human populations and engineered systems to coastal hazards can improve the resilience of these systems and alter the consequences of hazards. This integrated framework can be used to understand the interactions among infrastructure, environment, and society that drive the consequences of hazards and to assess the relative effects of different types of investments. This research will incorporate local and traditional ecological knowledge and ground truth the result with coastal residents and communities to assure maximum utility for policy makers.

The Institute will compile findings in a final report that outlines the processes and results of the application of the framework, map deliverables, and GIS database. These findings will be made accessible via a publicly-accessible interactive web-based GIS tool and workshops or webinars for policymakers. The Institute will also recommend future pathways for further output integration into Louisiana’s coastal resilience planning process.