Managing climate and natural disaster risk

A commentary on Cancún

22 Dec 2010

Swiss Re first identified climate risk 20 years ago. Today, Swiss Re is a major participant in the climate debate and shapes the global climate agenda through research and active dialogue with all affected stakeholders. During the COP-16 negotiations in Cancún, Swiss Re participated as an official member of the Swiss governmental delegation for the second year in a row. Our head of Sustainability, David Bresch, explains how we came to be part of the Swiss delegation and what the outcome of the Cancún...

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Swiss Re pushes for more concerted action on climate change in Cancún

09 Dec 2010

For the second consecutive year, Swiss Re is participating in the UN’s annual Climate Change Conference as an official member of Switzerland’s country delegation. As the talks in Cancún entered their final stage, Swiss Re stepped up its efforts to advocate for more concerted action on climate change and highlight the role of insurance in helping societies better manage climate risks.

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Lessons from this year’s earthquakes

18 Oct 2010

2010 has seen some of the most devastating earthquakes in recent times. The largest quakes in Haiti, Chile and New Zealand claimed well over 200’000 lives, almost exclusively in Haiti, and roughly 50 billion USD in damage to the economy.

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Turning talk into action: Climate Week panel highlights ways to protect vulnerable people and economies

21 Sep 2010

For the second year in a row, Swiss Re is proud to be the founding sponsor of Climate Week NYC. On the opening day of Climate Week 2010, Swiss Re and the Climate Group hosted a high-level panel discussion on climate adaptation in the developing world. During the session, senior policymakers, business leaders and development practitioners discussed practical solutions to make societies more resilient to the growing risks of climate change.

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Strengthening climate resilience: findings from the Economics of Climate Adaptation working group

20 Sep 2010

Ten cities were examined in an effort to collect information on local climate risks.

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Weathering climate change

17 Sep 2010

Innovative insurance solutions are key to making local communities more resilient to climate risks, says new Swiss Re report

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Tanzania, East Africa : Understanding the impact of drought on health and power generation

16 Sep 2010

The topic of sustainability is particularly poignant in the context of one of the oldest known continuously inhabited areas on earth – Tanzania*. This low income country has witnessed six major droughts in the last 30 years. The spread of disease and the threat to power generation caused by water shortage top Tanzania’s list of climate-related concerns. A test case examining the drought-prone central region of the country fullfilled the vital objective of analysing the scope and severity of the...

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North and Northeast China : When drought threatens food security

16 Sep 2010

The population of China increases by 12-13 million people each year*. This incredible growth rate is accompanied by a national medium- to long-term objective of 100% self-sufficiency for major food crops. Understanding the impact of climate change on agricultural productivity is therefore crucial. A new study focuses on the largest potential threat to food security in China – drought. Almost every Chinese province has experienced drought loss during the last 50 years. North and Northeast China represent...

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Mali, West Africa : Protecting agriculture from a climate zone shift

16 Sep 2010

The landlocked Republic of Mali, stretching deep into the Sahara, is already subject to frequent droughts. Increasing temperatures and decreasing rainfall, in both recent history and future projections, indicate a significant climate zone shift. The Sahara desert is creeping southwards, encroaching over productive land and threatening vital crops and livestock. A new case study, centred on the Mopti region, takes an in-depth look at the climate-related risks faced in order to form a solid basis...

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Maharashtra, India : The severe threat of drought on agriculture and human livelihood

16 Sep 2010

Maharashtra is India’s largest area of drought-prone agricultural land. It is also the country’s second most populous state. As such, the region presented an ideal location for an in-depth study of the potential negative consequences of drought up to the year 2030, including the definition of effective measures to either avoid or mitigate these. For many inhabitants, the crippling droughts of 2000 to 2004 are very recent and frightening memories. These caused terrible hardship for the two thirds...

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Hull, United Kingdom : A holistic approach to multiple hazards

16 Sep 2010

The city of Hull, on England’s North Sea coast, faces a three-pronged climate-induced threat. In addition to exposure to freshwater flooding following severe rainfall, Hull is at risk from the impact of strong windstorms and coastal flooding. The area is also economically deprived and currently under regeneration, which increases its vulnerability. Flooding in 2007 resulted in 15% of the city’s population being evacuated from their homes and financial losses of US$ 300m, despite the relatively good...

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Georgetown, Guyana : Insights into effectively managing flood risk

16 Sep 2010

On a satellite map, Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, and its immediate surroundings, represent an elongated white dot on the coast of a landmass representing 215,000 km². Back on the ground, this relatively small area is the home of 39% of the country’s population and the source of 43% of its GDP. Yet much of this land lies below sea level and cannot drain easily after the severe rainstorms that are characteristic of the region. Guyana’s high level of poverty and lack of flood-protection infrastructure...

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Southern Florida, USA : Getting a hold on hurricane risks

15 Sep 2010

Florida is widely known as “The Sunshine State”. Sunny weather also largely explains the fact that over 90% of the state’s population and 75% of its GDP, including US$ 875 billion in property value, is located along the coast. However, hidden in this picture postcard scenario lies a major climatic threat – huge vulnerability to the massive risk of hurricane damage, particularly in Southern Florida. A new project, integrating a total climate risk management approach, focused on the particularly exposed...

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Samoa, South Pacific : Facing the risks of rising sea levels

15 Sep 2010

One in three buildings on the island of Samoa is located below four metres elevation. That means that the problems associated with rising sea levels are literally on the doorstep of a huge number of Samoa’s 200,000 inhabitants. Accompanying the risk of coastal flooding, with the damage that causes to infrastructure, is the issue of salinisation. This is when salt water encroaches into fresh groundwater aquifers, leading to contamination of water supplies. Since Samoa relies on groundwater for one...

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Parametric solutions and Private-Public Partnerships: Innovation from Swiss Re

18 Aug 2010

Reto Schnarwiler, Global Head of Swiss Re's Public Sector business, talks to Experts’ Spotlight about the company’s expertise in this sector and the significance of the parametric insurance cover it recently structured for the US state of Alabama.

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Turbulent tropics: Securing climate-resilient development in the Caribbean

16 Aug 2010

Hurricane and flood risks are on the rise in the Caribbean and could threaten the region’s development prospects. But cost-effective adaptation measures are available to manage these risks, says a study on the Economics of Climate Adaptation (ECA) in the region released by the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) and supported by Swiss Re analytics.

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Hurricane Jeanne

Softening the financial impact of natural catastrophes

05 Jul 2010

Hurricane Alex has already left its mark on the Gulf coast of the United States and Mexico. The experts say that this was a relatively unusual occurrence in June and could signal a very active hurricane season.

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High risk of further damaging earthquakes in Chile

31 May 2010

The chances of a damaging aftershock in Chile continue to be high after the 8.8-magnitude quake that rocked the country on 27 February 2010. Powerful aftershocks could hit the region for months or even years to come. As the next underwriting period gets underway later this year, insurers and reinsurers will have to consider the heightened risk of seismic events in their analysis and planning.

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Rebuilding Haiti – Swiss Re issues new earthquake hazard map

15 Apr 2010

The powerful earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12 lasted just thirty-five seconds, but the devastation it left behind will impact the country for years to come. To support the reconstruction efforts, Swiss Re has issued a preliminary seismic hazard map for Haiti based on the latest data available.

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PERILS enables broader use of insurance industry market loss indices

01 Apr 2010

PERILS AG*, an independent European insurance industry initiative, was established in January 2009 to provide data on insured property exposures, as well as on insured losses after a catastrophic event. The aggregated data sets are anonymous, but derived from information voluntarily provided by Europe-based insurers, and made available to subscribers of the PERILS services.

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Making societies more resilient to large risks

31 Mar 2010

At a time of increasing resource constraints, governments are faced with an ever broader array of risks ranging from natural catastrophes, such as earthquakes and hurricanes, to pandemics and terrorism. Adapting to climate change is another major challenge for most countries, particularly in the developing world. The recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile were tragic reminders of the enormous strain that one single disaster can put on a government and a whole nation. But they also poignantly revealed...

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Turbulent times ahead in Europe - Climate change will lead to more frequent winter storms

31 Mar 2010

Global warming and winter storms in Europe, repercussions for reinsurance and what Swiss Re is doing to address the problem (pricing storm risk and building resilience)

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Our position and objectives

24 Mar 2010

Today, global warming is a fact. Since the beginning of industrialisation and the rapid growth of world population, man’s activities – along with natural variability – have contributed to a change of climate manifesting itself as a considerable increase in global temperature. Climate change has the potential to develop into our planet’s greatest environmental challenge of the 21st century.

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Chile earthquake expected to be a major insurance event

23 Mar 2010

The 8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Chile early February 27 was one of the most powerful quakes in recorded history, killing hundreds, destroying vast swaths of commercial infrastructure and causing damages to more than a million homes. According to first assessments, total economic losses could amount to over USD 15 billion. With insured losses reaching an estimated USD 4 to 7 billion, the earthquake is also likely to become one of the most expensive ever for the global insurance industry.

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Responding to the climate sceptics

23 Mar 2010

Swiss Re argues that the climate is warming at a rate which cannot be explained with natural factors alone.

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What does Economics of Climate Adaptation mean for insurance?

23 Mar 2010

Interview with David Bresch, Head of Sustainability & Emerging Risk Management

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Video testimonials – A call for action on climate adaptation

23 Mar 2010

All societies need to understand how and where they must adapt to climate change. As a member of the Economics of Climate Adaptation (ECA) working group, Swiss Re was a lead contributor to Shaping Climate Resilient Development. The report introduces an approach and methodology to make this happen.

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Swiss Re on Bloomberg TV: Insuring climate change

23 Mar 2010

Swiss Re’s senior climate advisor Andreas Spiegel talks to Bloomberg TV about the risks and opportunities of climate change from the perspective of the insurance industry. Speaking at the United Nations Climate Summit in Copenhagen, Spiegel stressed the importance of adaptation, alongside mitigation, as a means of ensuring that assets remain insurable in the long-term.

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Shaping climate-resilient development

23 Mar 2010

Even if all carbon emissions were stopped today, the world’s climate would continue to change. This means we have to adapt to the consequences. Investing in measures that help communities cope with floods, droughts and severe storms will go a long way to preparing them for a future marked by more weather extremes and natural disasters.

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