Urban centres represent the largest and most important markets for the insurance industry. Yet many cities are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate-related perils. The insurance industry has an important role to play, across the underwriting and asset management sides of its business, to support cities as they respond to the challenges they face. Resilient Cities explores how insurance data and expertise can support cities to make better, more informed infrastructure and development decisions. It focuses on insurer support for both developing and developed economies.
This study examined the importance of city adaptation to climate risk for wide variety of stakeholders, including the insurance sector. It highlights direct links between enhancing climate resilience and increased investor confidence. This leads to improved investor sentiment and sustainable growth, in turn creating a wealth of new opportunities for both cities and the insurance sector. The study introduces the concept of ‘resilience zones’. These are geographically bounded areas, within cities, that are particularly vulnerable to climate risk. By focusing redevelopment efforts on resilience zones helps cities to concentrate and prioritise the market conditions needed for promoting investment opportunities.
Phase II of Resilient Cities further develops understandings of resilience zones. It explores how insurer expertise can support urban resilience by leveraging existing capabilities across the underwriting and asset management sides of their business. The study focuses on property development and infrastructure investment. This is because, by matching assets to liabilities, the insurance sector supports the efficient allocation of capital and the financing of assets underpinning the wider economy (e.g. infrastructure investments). Via long-term engagement between insurers and cities, this will help to diversify the financial system and manage the widening climate risk protection gap.
One of the challenges facing insurers and investors, is that when underwriting emerging economy public infrastructure projects, the industry is often only involved towards the tail-end of the development process. This is ironic as the finance sector is often most exposed to project risks over the long term. Consequently, many infrastructure projects are unsustainable, uninsurable and fail to meet the needs of local communities. However, insurer expertise could support more informed infrastructural decision-making and planning. This project explores how emerging economy infrastructure projects can be redesigned, to integrate the finance sector more closely, from the start. It develops a methodology to support more bankable, insurable and sustainable infrastructure projects that meet the needs of local communities.
The ENHANCE project, in which ClimateWise was involved, sought to address the role that Multi-Sector Partnerships (MSPs) between public, private and civil society stakeholders can play in sharing information and developing innovative solutions, to both prepare and respond to disasters, with an emphasis on the financial sector. MSPs build on growing awareness that the private sector – and especially the insurance industry – often has an inherent interest in reducing societal risk exposure. The ENHANCE project delivered a series of scientific and political findings at the EU, national and local levels and contributed to a number of new European and international policy frameworks. Outcomes ranged from the promotion of knowledge sharing through to direct policy recommendations on risk reduction measures.
Compendium of risk transfer initiatives in the developing world
The ClimateWise Compendium documented over 120 existing initiatives, across middle and lower income countries, involving the transfer of risk associated with natural hazards. The open source Compendium includes information on the types of schemes occurring, peril insured, involvement of public and private financing and where risk transfer is directly linked to risk reduction or supports adaptation.