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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

12 April 2023 – New roadmap from CISL’s ClimateWise charts a path for the insurance sector towards nature-positive underwriting and explores the industry’s role in supporting the transition of its clients towards a sustainable economy.  

Download the roadmap

A path towards nature-positive underwriting  

To avoid irreparable damage to the natural world, the full value of nature must be integrated into underwriting. This integration will support the mobilisation of capital away from destructive activities and towards those that restore and protect nature. 

The re/insurance sector can play a critical and distinctive role in identifying and quantifying nature loss, developing solutions to manage exposure to nature-related risks, promoting the protection and restoration and nature, and working with the broader finance sector to transform how the wider economy values nature and the ecosystem services that it provides.  

Building on Why Nature Matters: Nature-related risks and opportunities for insurance underwriting, this roadmap details a path for re/insurers towards nature-positive underwriting by highlighting the following:  

  1. The challenges the insurance industry is facing to integrate nature-related risks into underwriting; 

  1. Leading practices to incorporate nature into underwriting and other financial activities;

  2. Actions available to accelerate progress on nature-positive underwriting, through focusing on risk, opportunity and engagement. 


Two workshops were hosted by ClimateWise to bring together ClimateWise members, academics, climate risk modelers and insurance industry firms, to identify an actionable pathway for identifying nature risks and impacts, integrating nature-related risks and opportunities into underwriting, and promoting nature-positive insurance offerings to complement net zero and disaster risk reduction commitments.  

The Roadmap 

The data and observations were reviewed to segment the key findings across the three distinct pillars of this roadmap: 1. Risks, 2. Opportunities, and 3. Engagement. The findings from the workshops also revealed common challenges and solutions which appeared multiple times across the different pillars. These have been clustered together in the ‘Common Challenges’ and the ‘Common Solutions’.

Further action 

While some actions are being taken within the insurance industry to integrate nature-related risks into underwriting, more is required to deliver nature-positive outcomes. This roadmap summarises specific key actions that various actors, including the insurance industry, policymakers, academic institutions and standard setting bodies, need to take to progress the nature-positive journey. Collaboratively taking these actions into consideration could help halt and reverse the loss of nature, enabling species and ecosystems to recover. 


Dr Nina Seega, Director, Centre for Sustainable Finance, CISL said:

“The re/insurance industry has a vital role to play in protecting our natural world. It is uniquely placed to improve our understanding of nature-related financial risks, invest in nature-based solutions and protect natural assets. This roadmap summarises challenges the re/insurance industry is facing today, practices that are happening now and actions that need to be taken to enable the industry to fulfil its role.” 

Laura Deltenre, Senior Project Manager, ClimateWise, CISL said:

“Nature-positive opportunities need to become part of day-to-day insurance business. It is essential to mainstream nature-positive considerations into insurance companies’ strategies, alongside their net zero ambitions. This roadmap provides a pathway for re/insurers and brokers towards the required nature-positive underwriting journey and showcases further actions needed to drive meaningful action.” 

Harriet James, ClimateWise Managing Committee Chair and SVP, Head of Sustainability Strategy, RenaissanceRe said:

“Utilising our risk and underwriting expertise, the insurance industry is in a unique position to understand, quantify and manage nature-related financial risks and leverage existing frameworks to develop innovative product solutions that reduce biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse. This Roadmap explores these important topics and provides key actions to support the industry in progressing a nature-positive journey.” 

Andy Bord, Chief Executive Officer, Flood Re said:

“We must use every tool we have to manage long-term flood risk, including recognising the value of nature. This report is an important resource for our industry to understand the steps we can take to make nature a part of our approach to resilience.” 

Natalia Moudrak, Climate Resiliency Leader, Aon said:

“Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history, with grave impacts on people and communities around the world. Through insurance innovation spanning risk assessment and risk transfer solutions, insurers can ultimately help enable greater flows of capital towards nature protection and restoration initiatives. The roadmap offers a welcome range of insights to inspire activities where such innovation is needed the most.” 

Ben Howarth, Chief Sustainability Officer, Association of British Insurers (ABI) said:

“Whilst the insurance and long term savings sector has made huge strides in facing the challenges posed by climate change and reaching Net Zero, we cannot lose sight of the urgent need to protect the natural environment and biodiversity on which human life depends. Climate Change and biodiversity are inter-dependent and an effective sustainability strategy needs to address both. That’s why the ABI has been pleased to support the ClimateWise Nature-related risks Roadmap. ClimateWise’s leadership on showing how our sector can move towards becoming nature-positive is very welcome.” 

Victoria Waite, Account Executive, Climate Risk and Resilience, Howden Group said:

“This paper demonstrates a strong emphasis on global action for biodiversity and nature risks, which are becoming more prevalent due to the volatility and uncertainty of climate change over the coming decades. The many examples listed throughout this paper highlight the role the insurance market can play when working together to develop solutions and promote the protection and restoration of nature and natural assets. Howden is pleased to have contributed case studies to this paper signifying how insurance can help society build resilience against climate change and other nature related risks.” 


Citing this report  

University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). (2023). Roadmap: Identification and integration of nature-related risks and impacts in underwriting and insurance brokerage. Cambridge, UK: University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.  

Published: 12 April 2023

Authors and acknowledgements 

The lead authors of this roadmap were Laura Deltenre, Grant Rudgley and Dr Nina Seega of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL).  

The research was grant funded by the European Climate Foundation (ECF). The authors would like to thank ClimateWise Nature and Insurance Task Group members for their contributions to shaping the roadmap. Members include the Association of British Insurers (ABI), Aon, AXA XL, Beazley, Flood Re, Howden Group, Inigo Insurance, Liberty Specialty Markets, Marsh, QBE, RenaissanceRe and WTW. The authors would also like to thank the following individuals for their contributions Elizabeth Clark (CISL), Harry Greenfield (CISL) and Dr. Anthony Waldron (Working Ant Consultancy Cambridge)


Copyright © 2023 University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). 

Some rights reserved. The material featured in this publication is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share-Alike License. (Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0). 


The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not represent an official position of CISL, the University of Cambridge, or any of its individual business partners or clients.