Emilie CREMIN.
Entre mobilité et sédentarité : les Mising, « peuple du fleuve », face à l'endiguement du Brahmapoutre (Assam, Inde du Nord-Est).
Environmental and Society. Univerisité Paris 8 Vincennes Saint-Denis, 2014. French. <tel-01139754>
Présentation du résumé de la thèse sur le site de la revue Mappemonde

Living deltas

Since February 2020, I’m a member of the Living deltas hub

Focusing on 3 major deltas in Asia:
The Red River, The Mekong  & The Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna, the project aims at safeguarding delta futures through more resilient communities & sustainable development.

I’m co-leading the WP4 – Risk Assessment Working group

Key Aims

  • 1. Further development of the Global Delta Risk Index for the Risk Assessment of delta’s Socio-ecological systems based on Impact chain holistic systemic approach (Task 2.10 and T4.2; link: WP2- Vulnerability and resilience WG and WP5 – Indicator WG). 
  • 2. Consultations with stakeholders to define and select relevant indicators for the risk assessment of coastal social-ecological systems to make them more relevant for coastal land and waterscapes (T4.21)
  • 3. Model specific risks and vulnerabilities of coastal environments, including use of HiPiMs simulations under different climate/relative sea-level change scenarios (link WP3); and refinement of the GDRI to make it specific (GDRIc) for the coastal fringes of the deltas (link: WP2 – Vulnerability and Resilience WG and Modelisation WG)
  • 4. Elaboration of solutions for the sustainable development and resilience enhancement measures in coastal socio-ecological systems 

Aims of the Risk assessment Working Group

Within the Living Deltas Hub and the WP4 “Develop delta-level interventions to respond to and mitigate against foreseeable coastal system tipping points”, the scope of the Risk Assessment Working Group is to further develop the Global Delta Risk Index, specifically for coastal Social-Ecological Systems (SES) in accordance with the Sustainable development goals (SDGs).

River deltas in coastal areas are considered highly exposed to natural hazards such as floods, riverbanks erosion, salinization and storms. The GDRI offers an index library, that captures both social susceptibility and ecological susceptibility, but also ecological robustness, coping and adaptation capacities to show the impact and the transformations of the coastal social-ecological system. Coastal Social-ecological systems include cultivated (paddy, aquaculture, orchards, etc.) and non-cultivated SES (Mangroves and other wetlands), as well as urbanized and industrialized zones. For this purpose, we are adapting the existing Global Delta Risk Index (Sebesvari et al. 2016; Hagenlocher et al. 2018) to analyse the different components of environmental risk (anthropogenic drivers, exposure, hazard, vulnerability, and coping and adaptation capacities) that affect and transform these SES at the local scale.

Focus and main questions

We focus, here on the risk to sustainable livelihoods. What are the factors (drivers and threats) leading to risk of loss of sustainable livelihoods? What are the drivers of change and threats faced by ecological and social systems? What are the exposures, sensitivity and capacity of adaptation of each system? What indicators can we use to measure them?

Research Protocol

1.    Further development of the Global Delta Risk Index for the Risk Assessment of coastal Socio-ecological systems based on Impact chain holistic systemic approach. 

The Global delta risk index is based on an extensive literature review of vulnerability and risk assessment frameworks. It synthesised most of the indicators addressing natural hazards mentioned in the literature (Sebesvari, 2016; Hagenlocher, 2018). The GDRI captures multiple natural hazards, social and ecological vulnerability, and risk to sustainable livelihoods, coping and adaptation strategies in delta coastal socio-ecological systems.

Figure 1: New version of the GDRI, Risk assessment framework for coastal SES.

The New version will consider the risk toward the identification of causes leading to tipping points and related transformative processes. It will integrate additional indicators based on the delta partners and stakeholder consultations. Some new indicators are already identified such as indicators of the SDG such as the poverty (SDG1), food security (SDG2), access to fresh water (SDG6), etc. to define social susceptibility. Indicators related to ecological knowledge as a cultural and natural heritage or public participation to policies could be also added (figure 1).

2.     Consultations with delta partners and with stakeholders to define and select relevant indicators for the risk assessment of coastal social-ecological systems to make it more relevant for coastal regions (T4.21) 

While the GDRI risk assessment framework is well grounded in theories and existing literature, it still needs to be tested empirically in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna, in the Mekong and in the Red River deltas. To select relevant indicators and adapt the index to each delta, we propose to use impact chains. Impact chains are developed to establish relations between the different processes involved in the transformation of the deltas coastal socio-ecological systems, highlight the drivers of change and the threats to socio-ecological systems and select the indicators which composes the index. They are developed to select specific indicators to assess the risk that leads to the risk of loss of sustainable livelihoods in each local context. Indicators are selected in relation with the components of the impact chains.

Those Impact chains have already receiving contribution from our delta partners.

3.    Model specific risks and vulnerabilities of coastal environments, including use of HiPiMs simulations under different climate/relative sea level change scenarios (link WP3); and refinement of the GDRI to make it specific (GDRIc) for the coastal fringes of the deltas (link: WP2 – Modelling WG)

Once the final set of indicators for the GDRIc is designed, complementary data are collected with the help of the Modelling Working Group. Secondary data are analysed and the results are calculated through normalization, weighting and aggregation. Finally, all the data will be visualized in a GIS using QGIS and R. We will then collect data for the modelling and visualization of the Index in a GIS to inform policy makers.

4.    Elaboration of solutions for the sustainable development and the resilience enhancement measures in coastal socio-ecological systems

The GDRI is designed as a tool for policy makers to inform actions. It aims to understand complex social-ecological systems, how they transform with time to develop risk reduction strategies. Therefore, we will evaluate the approaches available to reduce environmental risks such as early warning systems, engineered structures such as seawalls and dikes, and Nature-based Solutions which draw on ecosystems’ abilities to provide regulating and provisioning ecosystem services (Cohen-Shacham et al. 2016).

Success to date

In 2020, the Risk Assessment WG has intensively worked on the development of a new version of the Global delta Risk Index. This version aims at being adapted to our 3 deltas specificities, while this progress should also inform the more general Global Delta Risk Index. This progress has benefited from the contribution of delta partners in terms of the development of Impact Chains, showing the interactions of multiple factors acting on coastal SES.


In 2021, the consultation process will continue with deltas stakeholder, online and on the field, to select the indicators of the GDRI. This activity will involve multidisciplinary groups of scientists, policy actors, delta experts and delta stakeholders to define the environmental risk in river deltas coastal social-ecological systems of our 3 deltas in 4 countries to design specific impact chains or -cause-effect chains- showing the risk in each delta.