Metropolis now: building resilient societies in a fast-paced world

Ensuring resilient societies in a fast-paced world is the key challenge of the 21st century. Two publications from Swiss Re and the Chief Risk Officer Forum highlight how this can be achieved.

New records are set every day in our faster, taller and bigger world. Take high-speed train travel: the fastest trains travelled at 350 km/h in 2012 but maximum speeds in recent tests already approach 600 km/h. Today's tallest buildings are around 800m; plans are already underway for buildings exceeding heights of 1000m. Risk management doesn't always keep up.

A new publication from the Chief Risk Officer (CRO) Forum's Emerging Risk Initiative spotlights potential implications and how to mitigate them. Pushing the limits – Managing risk in a faster, taller, bigger world (PDF, 2.46 MB)  highlights how important it is for risk management to get involved in engineering projects early on.

The report cautions that many failures take root causes in the planning or inception phase. By getting active early on, risk managers can help prevent losses from occurring in the first place. This makes economic sense for investors, project owners and society at large.

Swiss Re believes placing emphasis on early warning is also important. "It gives you time to react [and] room for manouver," says Swiss Re Senior Risk Analyst Sandra Burmeier. "It can enable you to take precautionary measures in some cases. However that does require that you have a risk aware culture throughout the organization." Hear more of Burmeier's thoughts in our Expert Spotlight video to the right.

Insurance leading the way

In other areas insurers have the opportunity to set the pace. The CRO Forum launched its fifth paper in its series on managing environmental, social and governance (ESG) challenges in business transactions at the CRO Assembly this week. Human rights and corporate insurance (PDF, 462 KB) argues that human rights are no longer solely the concern of states. Respecting human rights has become a global standard today that businesses are expected to uphold wherever they operate, regardless of their size, nature or industry sector.

The insurance industry has started to address human rights concerns in its business transactions, facilitated through voluntary initiatives such as the UN Global Compact, Principles for Responsible Investment and Principles for Sustainable Insurance, but there is more work to be done. Insurers can be key partners in helping companies meet increasingly global standards on issues such as labour conditions and management of impacts on local communities. The report aims to help the insurance industry address evolving expectations around its role in respecting human rights and promoting best practice.

These new publications discuss developments in today's risk landscape using recent examples. Importantly the two reports are an invitation to start collaborating on risk management for the 21st century with all stakeholders– to make sure tomorrow’s world develops new frontiers safely.

Published 18 November 2014

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