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Decision support templates to create risk registers

CoastAdapt provides three risk assessment templates that allow users to systematically follow the guidelines for assessing climate change risks, and record relevant information gathered at each step of a risk assessment. 


At a glance

  • Risk assessments enable you to identify future climate change risks that may affect your organisation and the outcomes that you seek to achieve.
  • Different organisations have varying needs, resources and capacities and therefore CoastAdapt provides detailed guidance on three levels of risk assessment with increasing complexity and data requirement.
  • To support use of these three levels of assessment, CoastAdapt provides four excel spreadsheet templates with explanatory notes. 
  • The templates are designed so that users can systematically record their findings and present results.
  • Information generated from a risk assessment can be used to create risk registers or to update existing risk registers.
Main text

Three levels of risk assessment and available templates to support them

Organisations have different adaptation needs, resources and capacity. Accordingly, we provide three levels of risk assessment, each with increasing degrees of complexity and data requirement. They are:

  1. A first-pass risk screening is a quick and straightforward way to get an overview of exposure to climate change risk. The goal is to identify areas/sectors of organizations that might be at risk and then establish whether the risk is large enough to warrant a more detailed assessment.  This is especially appropriate for a resource-constrained organisation with limited data and information, as it may demonstrate that the risk is sufficiently small, or far in the future, that further investigation is not required or can be delayed. Conversely it may demonstrate that the resourcing of a more in depth assessment is a priority.  A first-pass assessment could be undertaken by a small in-house group using published information on climate change. Two templates are available for first-pass screening: one can be used to quickly screen for hazards and associated risks (Template 1); and the other can be used if there is a need to redo the first-pass screening with more information, efforts and resources (Template 2). For further detailed guidelines see Guidance on first-pass risk screening.
  2. A second-pass risk assessment takes a standard risk assessment approach similar to standards such as and uses national data, locally available information and expert knowledge to identify how climate change may increase existing risks or create new ones. This differs from the first-pass approach in that it requires substantial input from appropriate experts and consultants, often through one or more workshops.  These experts will need scenarios of future climate change, sea-level rise and coastal erosion vulnerability. These are generally available from websites such as Climate Change in Australia. CoastAdapt also provides data and information that can be used (see Shoreline Explorer, Sea Level Rise and You). For detailed guidance on conducting a second-pass assessment see Guidance on second-pass risk assessment.  
  3. A third-pass (detailed) risk assessment is appropriate for use where the first- and/or second-pass assessments indicate there are locations or sectors at high risk. Suppose the first- and second-pass assessments indicate the risk of more intense and more frequent rainstorms in future that may flood the sewage and/or water treatment infrastructure. In a detailed assessment, it is possible to obtain future daily rainfall data from climate models, and use these as input to a hydrological model. Note that it would be unwise to use the results from only one climate model in undertaking such an analysis, because of the uncertainties involved, and interpreting the results requires care (see Understanding climate scenarios).  This may involve considerable cost and commitment and is likely to require the services of an expert as consultant (see Using consultancies). For further support to conduct a third-pass risk assessment see Guidance on third-pass risk assessment.  

See Table 1 for a more detailed description of the three levels of risk assessment.

The risk assessment templates are designed so that, while following the guidelines (see Guidance on risk assessment, Guidance on first-pass risk screening, Guidance on second-pass risk assessment, Guidance on third-pass risk assessment), users can systematically record their findings at each step and finally present the results.

How to use the templates

Users should be careful to document why they made certain choices, such as the scenarios they select.  They should also document the sources of information (e.g. websites, reports etc.) they use to underpin their assessments. Four templates are provided in CoastAdapt to aid this documentation process, and to support undertaking the three levels of risk assessments (see attached excel spread sheets).

Template 1: First-pass risk screening: suitable for a quick screen of climate change hazards and associated risks.

Template 2: First-pass risk screening: useful if you want to redo the first-pass risk screening with more information and effort.

Template 3: Second-pass risk assessment: can be used for recording information during a second-pass risk assessment workshop.

Template 4: Third-pass risk assessment: can be used for recording information during a third-pass risk assessment workshop.

These templates are not analysis tools; rather they provide a way to document information while following the risk assessment guidance materials. Each of the templates has a ‘ReadMe’ sheet which provides a short explanation of tasks and terminologies. For detailed explanation of the tasks, users should refer to the Risk assessment guideline. In order to conduct the risk assessment, users will also need other relevant data and information that are available through CoastAdapt (e.g. Interpret climate change scenarios, Access scenarios, Information Manual 3: Available datasets, etc.).

Note that by hovering your cursor over some of the template cells (those with a red corner) you will see links to relevant information.   

Role of these templates to create risk registers

Risk registers are important components of the strategic management of an organisation.  Developing a climate change risk register enables you to record future risks that may affect your organisation and the outcomes that you seek to achieve. Following the Risk assessment guidelines of CoastAdapt you can identify risks and create or update a climate change risk register for your organisation. 

Table 1: Three levels of risk assessment in CoastAdapt

Source material

Standards Australia, 2013: AS5334: Australian Standard for Climate Change Adaptation for settlements and infrastructure – A risk based approach. Standards Australia Limited, Sydney, Australia.

Standards Australia and Standards New Zealand, 2009: AS/NZS-ISO31000: Risk Management Principles and Guidelines. Standards Australia International.