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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

July 2015 – This report analyses the role of insurance regulation in protecting the basic human rights of life, livelihood and shelter against natural hazards and climate risk. Effective insurance regulation facilitates access to insurance (both traditional and alternative) as a means to increase communities’ resilience, fulfil related human rights duties of state and non-state actors and support the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Insurance Regulation report

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As the UN Human Rights Council asserts: “Natural hazards are not disasters in and of themselves. Whether or not they become disasters depends on the exposure of a community, and its vulnerability and resilience, all factors that can be addressed by human (including State) action. A failure (by governments and other actors) to take reasonable preventative action to reduce exposure and vulnerability and to enhance resilience, as well as to provide mitigation, is therefore a human rights issue,” (HRC, 2014a).

The input of insurance regulation to increasing resilience and reducing vulnerability of populations to these risks has been analysed by various official sources. This report takes those links a step further into the realm of human rights commitments already in place. It introduces the fundamental role of insurance regulation to protect life, livelihood and shelter by contributing to the fulfilment of existing human rights duties of both state and non-state actors. 

Effective insurance regulation supports human rights by enabling financial inclusion, incentivising risk reduction behaviours and facilitating economic recovery after a disaster. Disruptive insurance regulation, or no regulation at all, deprives the poorest people in our world from protecting their own lives and assets. This report does not imply that regulation is a panacea, since access to insurance is determined by a combination of factors. It does, however, demonstrate that regulation is an essential part of increasing access to insurance around the world (public, private and mutual), in order to protect human dignity and advance the Sustainable Development Goals.


Please refer to this paper as Insurance Regulation for Sustainable Development: Protecting Human Rights against Climate Risk and Natural Hazards (CISL, 2015).

This latest report complements the work of ClimateWise, convened by CISL, which exists to be the global insurance industry’s leadership group to drive action on climate change risk; and contributes to CISL’s Rewiring the Economy plan. 

Rewiring the Economy presents ten interconnected tasks for government, finance and business leaders over the next ten years to lay the foundations for a sustainable economy and deliver against the forthcoming UN Sustainable Development Goals.

This work contributes in particular to:

Task 3: Drive socially useful innovation

Governments can create drivers and incentives for innovation aligned with core sustainability goals, for example harnessing regulation and other policy levers to create public 'goods'. 

Task 6: Innovate financial structures to better serve sustainable business

Financial institutions can apply their influence and creativity to support business models that address society's essential needs.

Lead authors

Dr Ana Gonzalez Pelaez, Fellow, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and Dr Sebastian von Dahlen, Chairman G-AWG, International Association of Insurance Supervisors, Basel, Switzerland.


Copyright © 2015 University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). Some rights reserved. The material featured in this publication is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercialShareAlike License.


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


Published: July 2015