New Orleans celebrates one year of resilience building

Swiss Re and Veolia report progress on resilience and recovery solution

It's just over 11 years ago that Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, leaving the city devastated by the storm surge and floods. Since then the city has been fighting hard to get back to the thriving city it was before. An important step on that journey is the resilience strategy implemented a year ago. Celebrating the anniversary on September 12, 2016 a sure sign that the city is on the right path is the improved Fitch rating to A+, which was just announced.

Swiss Re and Veolia were present at the Resilient Nola celebration, representing a progressive partnership where a water and sanitation utility and reinsurance company work closely together. The purpose is to help the city strengthen its vital systems to become more disaster resilient on the one hand, and to enable speedy relief and recovery on the other.

The milestones

The effort to date has been to calculate the current base line exposure for all of the city's water, sanitation and related energy assets. Potential risk mitigation measures have been identified, and the existing resilience of all assets has been evaluated – all in the context of selected 2050 climate models.

Next will be to remodel the risk exposure for all assets, and to develop a resilience plan to maximize investment plans for risk reduction and cost savings. Further, the resilience plan will be implemented, and the programme extended to embrace other critical city assets, in order to evaluate health and economic impacts. A natural conclusion of the effort will be to develop a risk transfer agreement, helping to lower the strain on taxpayers and city budgets.

The implementation imperative

"Nikhil da Victoria Lobo, Head Global Partnerships Americas, Swiss Re said: "This is not just about having a strategy in place: it's the actual implementation that will determine the success of New Orleans' pioneering resiliency work. We're excited to be playing a part in this very innovative utility/risk financing partnership, which is a first step to helping other cities achieve the same thing."

"Veolia and Swiss Re have the opportunity to play a crucial  role in helping cities become more resilient to such events as Hurricane Katrina", said Laurent Auguste, Senior Executive Vice President of Innovation & Markets at Veolia. "We are strongly convinced that resilience reinforces cities attractiveness and competitiveness. That’s why we increase awareness around the vulnerability of cities critical infrastructures, including water systems, and accelerate activities to improve essential services continuity".