Ocean Risk

The Ocean is one of the planet’s greatest assets.

Home to over 80 per cent of all life on Earth, it is the world’s largest carbon sink and feeds and provides livelihoods to billions of people. A resilient and net zero world is not possible without a healthy, regenerating Ocean.

But the Ocean is in crisis. Heating, leading to extreme weather events, sea level rise, pollution, overfishing, acidification and biodiversity loss, all jeopardise the health of the Ocean. This in turn puts the food security, social and economic resilience, and the lives and livelihoods of coastal communities, particularly in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) at serious risk, with women and girls especially hard hit.

Research commissioned by ORRAA and led by its member the Stockholm Resilience Centre points out that sea-level rise is anticipated to be one of the most expensive and irreversible consequences of climate change worldwide, with the top 18 countries in terms of GDP loss and top 10 countries in terms of population loss all LDCs.

Ocean-derived risk can be categorised into three risk trends:


Immediate onset risks:

  • Tropical cyclones
  • Storm surge events
  • Flooding and inundation

Slow onset risks:

  • Sea-level rise
  • Acidification
  • Food security issues
  • Impacts on human health
  • Declines in biodiversity

Risk Multipliers:

  • Pollution
  • Resource exploitation (including overfishing)
  • Land-use change

There is an urgent need to better understand and mitigate ocean-derived risks, and build resilience in valuable ocean ecosystems, and in the communities depending on them for protection and livelihoods.

We need a sea changein how we value our marine and coastal natural capital, and in how we mobilise both public and private finance to protect it, so it can continue to protect us. ORRAA’s work is dedicated to this.

40% of the world's population live in coastal areas.


Over US$300bn have been paid by insurers over the last 10 years for coastal storm damage, with significantly larger costs being borne by governments and taxpayers.


66% of globally listed companies have some dependency on the ocean economy.
(Navigating Ocean Risk, WWF)


While an estimated US$175 billion per year is needed to fund SDG14 ‘Life below water’, it received just below US$10 billion total over the period 2015-2019.
(Blue Acceleration: An Ocean of risks and opportunities, Stockholm Resilience Centre)

Mangrove forests provide more than US$80 billion per year in avoided losses from coastal flooding – and protect 18 million people. 

Nearly 200 million people depend on coral reefs to help protect them from storm surges and waves. Reefs reduce the annual expected damages from storms by more than US$4 billion.