Karim Belhadjali


Deputy Chief, Planning and Research Division, CPRA

Reducing Flood Risk and Increasing Community Resilience through the Master Plan

Friday, September 9 @ 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm




Coastal Louisiana faces one of the highest land loss rates in the world, which puts our communities, regional economy, and national energy and transportation infrastructure at risk. The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority is responding to the crisis by developing a comprehensive Flood Risk and Resilience Program to support communities’ ability to reduce flood risk and strengthen the state’s capacity to adapt to an uncertain future. The program focuses on conducting a refined coastal flood risk vulnerability analysis, defining nonstructural project areas, prioritizing projects, and facilitating the implementation of the projects. The Program aims to reduce flood risk in coastal Louisiana communities through residential elevation, non-residential flood proofing, and voluntary acquisition projects and prioritize risk reduction measures for communities that are physically and social vulnerable to coastal flooding. This work builds off of the data produced from the 2017 Coastal Master Plan modeling analysis which uses an expanded geographic study area and increases the spatial resolution of the flood depth and damage data. Flood depths are calculated for a 1km grid cell and a wider range of storms are included, specifically 10-year and 25-year flood events; to more fully capture risk and the benefits projects offer to reduce risk. In addition to evaluating factors such as cost-effectiveness and flood depths, the 2017 Plan will include other elements that capture communities’ social and economic vulnerabilities, such as percent of population in the project area that is considered low to moderate income and percent of properties that are classified as severe repetitive loss. The program has developed a range of initiatives that serve as useful precedents for other local governments or state agencies seeking to better understand their flood risk and communicate those risks to the public.


Karim Belhadjali specializes in the long-term planning of complex coastal ecosystem restoration and storm flood risk reduction projects, in adaptation to various scenarios of climate change. He is the program manager for the preparation of the State of Louisiana’s Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast. The master plan identifies specific projects and policies to be implemented over 50 years, to increase the resilience of coastal communities and ecosystem over the coming decades. Karim also directs the research program within CPRA, to address critical knowledge gaps, develop and improve comprehensive, integrated conceptual and forecasting models; and develop tools and data to support technical assessment of program and project performance against integrated objectives and goals. He has been engaged with the state’s coastal restoration and protection program since 2000, serving as the lead ecologist for the state on a dozen large scale wetland restoration projects constructed with federal partners.

Prior to his current position, he served in the US Peace Corps as the Marine Fisheries Advisor to the government of Tuvalu, Central Pacific.  He formulated fisheries policy including regulatory reform and fisheries management plans, to protect and conserve the marine resources of Tuvalu.