Using risk assessment to drive meaningful and significant action.

One of the greatest barriers to action is a lack of appreciation for the profound effect climate change has on human systems and global economies. Woodwell is translating far-reaching climate impacts into concrete socioeconomic terms—risk assessments, economic valuations, and cost-benefit analyses—that resonate at the highest levels of government and industry. This approach has the power to help shift public perception, improve corporate decision-making, and motivate large-scale public policy to build green, sustainable, and just economies.

All Risk Experts

Creating powerful partnerships to amplify our impact.

Woodwell scientists are working with public- and private-sector partners to better understand the physical, economic, and societal risks associated with climate change, and to develop evidence-based strategies to address them. From road building to pension funds, municipal bond investment to flood insurance—we help organizations bridge the gap between climate change as perceived threat and proximate reality.

midcentury drought and extreme heat map

Above: Without dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, many parts of the world face increased risks of drought and extreme heat by mid-century. Places where those threats overlap (bright orange regions) are particularly vulnerable.

Map by Greg Fiske

We recently contributed data and analyses to groundbreaking reports such as McKinsey Global Institute’s Climate risk and response: Physical hazards and socioeconomic impacts. We also bring important scientific research and insight to collaborations with Wellington Management, one of the world’s largest independent investment management firms, and the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), which resulted in the first-ever guidelines for corporate disclosure of physical climate risk.

Ongoing partnerships like these lead to development of investor tools and innovative analytical methods that improve climate risk assessment and investment outcomes—and, ultimately, drives new policies and corporate business practices that promote economic, environmental and social well-being.

Where we’re focused

Woodwell’s research, data, and mapping capabilities are being used as a vital tool to change perceptions and business practices at organizations around the world. We partner with a wide range of organizations—from international asset managers, to large land concession holders in Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as thought leaders and influencers across industries—to find practical applications for climate risk assessments that can spur new market behaviors and ultimately impact policy and decision-making on the largest scale possible.

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Above: Mapping the risks of climate change makes them come alive for decision-makers.

Map by Carl Churchill.

For more than 35 years, Woodwell scientists have engaged with national and international governing bodies to educate policy makers, provide expert testimony, and create new guidelines for addressing the impacts of climate change and building economic systems that promote social and environmental well-being. Recently, major science and policy projects have taken place in Brazil, Mexico, Nepal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the U.S., and others, with collaborators such as the World Bank, NASA, USAID and The Nature Conservancy.

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Above: Woodwell Climate President Dr. Philip Duffy testifying to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee On Science, Space, & Technology on May 16, 2018.

Woodwell researchers work with community-based organizations around the world—including GeoHazards International in California and the TIDE Project in Massachusetts, as well as local communities throughout the Arctic, the Amazon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We use powerful risk assessment tools to educate and empower people to address climate change—justly and equitably—at home, in their communities, and in the larger world.

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Above: Dr. Glenn Bush and Joseph Zambo work with DRC community members to provide information and tools for examining environmental challenges in local development.

Photo courtesy of Nolan Kitts
The climate emergency is not just about the future, it’s here. Every decision at every level needs to account for climate risk—the sooner, the better. We make that possible by translating familiar perils, like wildfires and hurricanes, into terms that resonate in the worlds of finance and policy. Dr. Christopher Schwalm, Risk Program Director