Regions around the world that face the most significant level of risk to their buildings as a result of climate change and extreme weather impacts have been unveiled.

In its latest report, physical climate risk advisory group XDI has analysed climate-related risks to the built environment across more than 2,600 jurisdictions throughout the world.

For each region, it considered both:

  • The expected aggregate level of damage to the built environment which is likely to occur between now and 2050 as a result of extreme weather and climate change; and
  • The jurisdictions which are likely to experience the most significant percentage increase in damage to property between now and 2050.

The report focuses on damage which is likely to occur as a result of climate change and extreme weather events.

Such damage will result from factors such as surface and river flooding, coastal inundation (coastal flooding), extreme heat, forest fire, drought related soil movement, extreme wind and freeze thaw.

In terms of aggregate building damage, the report found that China is the global hotspot.

On an aggregate damage level, China is home to 26 of the top 50 most at-risk states and provinces in terms of building damage that is expected to occur as a result of climate and weather-related events.

This includes all of the top nine most at-risk provinces that are included in the ranking.

From an aggregate built asset value viewpoint, China is vulnerable as the country has seen massive levels of economic and industrial development which has taken place over recent decades.

Much of this has occurred in areas such as river deltas, coastal zones and relatively flat areas.

These areas are traditionally very high risk in term of flooding and coastal inundation.

In particular, China is home to the world’s two most at-risk provinces – Jiangsu and Shandong.

The province of Jiangsu sits on China’s east coast just above Shanghai. It is the top-ranking province in the world for climate related built-environment risk.

The economy of this area is highly developed and is active in finance, education, technology, tourism and agriculture.

The coastal area of the province on the Yangtze River Deta is heavily subject to typhoons. Extreme flooding over the past five years has disrupted agricultural production and impacted millions of people.

In response, the Chinese Government has undertaken significant investment in the construction of seawalls and river floodgates.

The second most at-risk province is Shandong on China’s east coast.

This is home to more than 100 million people. It is China’s third largest province by GDP and is an important agricultural and industrial centre.

Its presence on the Yellow River on China’s east coast means that it is subject to frequent flooding.

Already, the province has experienced several catastrophic floods this century including a major flood in 2022.

(The coastal area of the province of Jiangsu on the Yangtze River Delta is highly developed and is heavily subject to typhoons. Extreme flooding has impacted millions of people over the past five years.)

Next after China is the United States.

All up, the US is home to 18 of the 200 highest ranking states and provinces in terms of the aggregate level of built environment damage that is expected to occur between now and 2050.

This includes Florida (10th) followed by California and Texas (19th and 20th).

All up, the US has experienced 332 climate and weather-related natural disasters since 1980. These have caused overall damages which exceed $1 billion.

Situated on the Gulf of Mexico, Florida is the fourth largest state economy in the US and is exposed to a number of climate-exacerbated hazards.

These include an increasing number of extreme heat days along with growing risk of wildfires. Other hazards include inland flooding and coastal inundation.

(In Florida, US, wildfires are a significant problem along with flooding and coastal inundation.)

Largely as a result of China’s exposure referred to above, Asia dominates the world rankings in terms of aggregate levels of expected building damage at a regional level.

All up, Asia is home to more than half (114) of the world’s 200 most vulnerable states and provinces in terms of aggregate built environment damage which is expected to occur between now and 2050.

In addition to China, other parts of East Asia which are at risk include 20 states/provinces in Japan and four in South Korea.

Meanwhile, South-East Asia is home to 36 of the 200 most at-risk provinces whilst South Asia has 24 of the top 200.

Countries which host significant at-risk provinces in South-East Asia include Vietnam and Indonesia.

Those in South Asia focus mostly on India and Pakistan – the latter of which saw extensive flooding in 2022 impact 30 percent of the country and damage more than 900,000 homes in the Sindh province.

East Asia and Southeast Asia are also expected to see the greatest average increase in damages of any region of the world between 1990 and 2050.

This is not only because of greater development in these regions but also on account of flooding risk and coastal inundation which may occur as a result of sea level rise and secondary flooding risk.

Turning to Europe, risks are expected to increase between now and 2050 as a result of hazards such as flooding, forest fires and coastal inundation.

All up, twelve of the region’s provinces rank within the top 200 worldwide for aggregate expected damage.

European provinces within the top 100 include Niedersachsen in Germany, Vlaanderen in Belgium, Krasnodar in Russia and Veneto in Italy, home of Venice.

In Veneto, major flooding in 2019 caused over a billion euros in damage.

The United Kingdom has only one area – Lincolnshire, ranked 184 – in the top 200 for aggregate risk damage in 2050.

Meanwhile, Greater London (rank 263) remains vulnerable as the modelling assumes that the Themes barrage may not be able to keep up with rising sea levels. As a result, coastal inundation may become coincident with extreme flooding risk.

Whilst English counties lead the UK in ranking for aggregate damage risk, Scottland is expected to see the most significant increase in damage risk.

All up, half of all Scottish counties (along with one quarter of all English counties) are anticipating a more than doubling in risk of damage between 1990 and 2050.

Particular risk increases will occur in counties such as Inverness, Shetland, Ross, Cromarty, Argyle and Brute and Narin.

Increases in hazards will be concentrated around areas where flood risk coincides with sea level rise.

In Oceana, three states in Australia (Victoria- 70, New South Wales – 75 and Queensland – 83) dominate the expected aggregate damage levels.

Whilst many low-lying countries in the South Pacific face existential threats on account of climate change, the Australian states rank higher in likely damages on an aggregated basis on account of their higher populations and greater numbers of buildings.

Viewed through the lens of risk escalation, several Papua New Guinean provinces rank highest for the increase in damage ratio from 1990 to 2050, with Southern Highlands and Gulf provinces experiencing a more than four-fold increase in likely damage levels over that period.

In other regions:

  • Latin America has 20 states/provinces in the top 200 in terms of aggregated damage levels, with Brazil’s Sao Paulo the highest ranked at number 33.
  • North Africa has eight regions in the top 200 most vulnerable (all in Egypt), with Albayrak toping the list at number 58.
  • Sub Saharan Africa has four regions in the top 200, with Gauteng in South Africa ranking highest with a global rank of 151.
  • West Asia and the Middle East have three regions in the top 200 for aggregated damages risk – the whole country of Georgia (157), Aran in Azerbaijan (172) and Khuzestan in Iran (197)


In its report, XDI stressed the need for governments, asset owners and the international finance sector to understand and quantify the level of climate risk that is associated with their built assets.

It says this is essential as financial markets are looking at potential impacts of climate risk on sovereign bonds whilst governments and other asset owners are facing increasing risk of litigation and reputational harm in cases where risk is understated.

In Australia, the Commonwealth Government was forced last year to agree to publish a statement on a Treasury website acknowledging that climate change was a systematic risk that may impact the value of the nation’s sovereign bonds.

This came as a result of settlement of a landmark court case that alleged that the government had misled or deceived investors.

“It is crucial for companies, governments and investors to understand the financial and economic implications of physical climate risk and weigh this risk in their decision-making before these costs escalate beyond financial tipping points,” the report said.