Client Manager, Globals and Government
1. Briefly tell us about your company - is it only involved in re-insurance, or do you insure directly as well?
Swiss Re is a leader in wholesale reinsurance, insurance and risk transfer solutions. Our clients include insurance companies, corporations and public-sector bodies. Our capital strength and knowledge enable the risk-taking on which economies depend. Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, Swiss Re has operations around the globe. Swiss Re Ltd is a joint stock company, listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange.
2. Is climate change risk an issue that the re-insurers and insurers are concerned about?
Climate change has the potential to develop into our planet's greatest environmental challenge of the 21st century. As a major global re/insurer, we are strongly exposed to the potential impacts of climate change. Climate adaptation and mitigation have both been designated by Swiss Re as issues of long-term, strategic importance. Swiss Re pursues the following objectives with regard to climate change:
• Advancing our knowledge and understanding of climate change risks, quantifying and integrating them into our risk management and underwriting frameworks where relevant Swiss Re has developed a Flood App that gives a general understanding of flood risks and explains how to manage and insure these risks.
• Developing products and services to mitigate or adapt to climate risk.
• Raising awareness about climate change risks through dialogue with clients, employees and the public, and advocacy of a worldwide policy framework for climate change.
• Tackling our own carbon footprint and ensuring transparent, annual emissions reporting. Since 2003 Swiss Re is fully carbon neutral.
3. Tell us how risk transfer can be used as a response to climate change?
Swiss Re is committed to taking a leading role in the climate debate. As an enabler of change, the financial services industry can help guide society towards an effective response. In response to clients' needs, Swiss Re is committed to developing appropriate solutions for adapting to and mitigating climate change.
The Economics of Climate Adaptation is a framework by Swiss Re and partners to identify cost-effective adaptation measures. Societies need to understand how and where they must adapt to climate change. What is the potential climate-related loss to our economies and societies over the coming decades? How much of that loss can we avert, with what measures? What investment will be required to fund those measures - and will the benefits of that investment outweigh the costs? The report "Shaping Climate-Resilient Development" aims to provide decision-makers with a systematic way of answering these questions.
Economics of Climate Adaptation gives national and local leaders the facts to understand the impact of climate on their economies and identify actions to minimize that impact at the lowest cost to society. Case studies in 17 different regions around the globe, ranging from Maharashtra in India to Florida and Northern England, showed that up to 68 percent of expected loss from climate change can be averted using cost-effective adaptation measures.
4. What do you see as current or potential barriers to risk transfer as an adaptation option?
Much information exists around climate risk and adaptation but often decision-makers do not have the tools to know how to apply the information to their decision making process. Currently challenges include:
• There is a lack of incentivisation in Australia for individuals to take up insurance.
• The Australian States, via the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) are not incentivised to take up insurance and develop a robust system of risk management, incorporating both mitigation and adaptation measures.
• Changes are required to land-use planning and building codes, including the homogenisation of these codes at a national level.
5. Is Swiss Re doing anything innovative in the adaptation space?
• Swiss Re has developed a Flood App that gives a general understanding of flood risks and explains how to manage and insure these risks,(please refer to answer 2).
• Swiss Re fosters climate resilience development. Swiss Re's Economics of Climate Adaptation gives national and local leaders the facts to understand the impact of climate change on their economies and identify actions to minimize that impact at the lowest cost to society (please refer to answer 3).
• Swiss Re is a founding sponsor of Climate Week NYC. The event, now in its fourth year, brings together the world's leading businesses and governments for an open discussion on how society can tackle climate change and work towards better protecting ourselves from the severe weather-related impacts it brings.
• Swiss Re has been a member of the Clinton Global Initiative since 2006. Through this forum, focused on actionable outcomes, we are currently partnering the development of two pioneering micro-insurance initiatives. Both offer solutions enabling swift payout in the event of natural disasters – but also provide the basic financial and risk management tools that can spur economic development.
• Swiss Re's MiCRO program provides microinsurance to small business entrepreneurs in Haiti.
• Swiss Re together with Oxfam America and the World Food Programme has instigated the Rural Resilience Initiative (R4) which is directed to low income farmers in Ethiopia.
• Swiss Re has been carbon neutral since 2003 and supports its employees to reduce their personal greenhouse gas emissions through the COyou2 reduce and gain programme.
• Swiss Re Corporate Responsibility Report 2011