Climate Week NYC 2012: the time for talking is over

The curtain came down on Climate Week NYC 2012 on 26 September after more than 50 events and the resounding message during panel discussions and closed door sessions was that the time for action is now.

As well as holding a key role in the opening ceremony , Swiss Re was heavily involved in two closed door sessions at the Morgan Library in New York City which brought decision makers and influencers from a cross section of society together to discuss how to tackle climate change and the devastation it brings.

Swiss Re hosted a workshop style brainstorming session with 30 senior representatives from governments, multilaterals, NGOs and the private sector for an event which focused on how risk transfer can help society better cope with weather related events.

Aimed at developing risk transfer solutions, rather than simply identifying problems, the two-hour session demonstrated the important role insurance can play in helping to build resiliency among populations most at risk from climate change.

Examining the possibilities of PPP

At the interactive event, attendees were split into five teams and asked to develop outlines of projects that could incorporate risk transfer and other measures to make communities more resilient to weather related events faced around the world. For example, one team proposed a hypothetical public-private partnership aimed at helping the urban poor return to work in the wake of a flood. The targeted population would be covered by an insurance product which would pay out after an extreme flood event with premiums paid not in cash, but labor. 

By working to improve their communities' resilience to flooding before an event strikes, with measures such as levee building, the urban poor would reduce their susceptibility to floods, thereby decreasing their vulnerability, and have an insurance policy to protect against catastrophic flood events. Swiss Re has already successfully rolled out similar solutions in other countries around the world.

Building the case for action

Finally, in a separate session, Swiss Re America Holding Corporation Chairman Walter Bell joined former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and others in a further closed door session to discuss how support can be built for action to tackle climate change in the US. "Building Support for a Clean Revolution in the US" specifically aimed at discussing this contentious topic with people representing a wide cross section of society.

Walter Bell outlined the case from the reinsurance perspective, highlighting the benefit to our industry from taking comprehensive action on climate change. Leaders from the World Medical Association, World Bank, World Evangelical Alliance and the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy were among those who shared their views on moving climate change debate towards action.

A thoughtful and interactive discussion was closed with comments from Blair.

Published 2 October 2012

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