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Mapping Coastal Risks and Social Vulnerability: Current Tools and Legal Risks

Lisa Schiavinato and Heather Payne
Created: 8/01/2017 - Updated: 1/08/2019


Extreme weather events and nuisance ooding are increasing, with communities already experiencing impacts. Both the identi cation of local hazards and the assessment of local vulnerabilities can protect people, their property, and their livelihoods.

The goal of this project, along with the accompanying paper Mapping Coastal Risks and Social Vulnerability: Principles and Considerations, is to provide an overview for local governments of the social vulnerability data sets that are currently available, how social vulnerability is currently being used and could be used, and what legal risks might be associated with utilizing it. A typical factor used to determine social vulnerability is race or ethnicity. e use of race speci cally raises legal concerns, primarily based on the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. In this paper, we discuss the equal protection analysis framework and the potential legal challenges associated with using race as a factor in in making decisions based on maps or other decision-support tools that include social vulnerability criteria.

Published On

Monday, April 27, 2015


Community / Local
Sector Addressed: 
Climate Justice
Development (socioeconomic)
Disaster Risk Management
Target Climate Changes and Impacts: 
Culture / communities
Storms or extreme weather events
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy: 
Capacity Building