Journal of Ocean and Coastal Economics

Document Type

Research Article


Coastal gray infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and buildings, is critical for communities, and we invest significantly in it. We also invest in the restoration and maintenance of coastal green infrastructure such as wetlands and reefs, which provide many services and benefits to human communities. However, the relative scale of financial investments in different coastal sectors – that is, our global coastal investment portfolio – remains poorly understood. We identify some of the major sources of funding for coastal green and gray infrastructure globally, including international aid funds; US public and private funds for coastal conservation, restoration and management; and private (insurance) and public funds spent on rebuilding after coastal storms. For the 10-year period from 2004-2013, we identify a total of US $14 billion in funds for coastal conservation and green infrastructure and $198 billion in international aid funds for coastal grey infrastructure. Coastal storms during the same decade caused an estimated US $514 billion in damages globally, of which $214 billion were insured losses, while $3.5 billion in international aid funds were spent on relief and reconstruction after these storm events. We conclude that funds for green infrastructure make up a small fraction – roughly three per cent – of global financial investments along coastlines. We identify the major funders in different coastal spending categories and discuss ways to move toward a more balanced investment portfolio that could benefit biodiversity, prevent billions of dollars of storm damage, and help protect the lives and livelihoods of coastal residents.

coastal spending supp tables.xlsx (13 kB)
Supplementary Tables 1-3

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.