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Helping the world rebuild and renew

Swiss Re's holistic approach to sustainable infrastructure development

A lack of infrastructure comes at an enormous economic and social cost. Almost 16% of the world’s population still have no electricity and 663 million people lack access to clean water. There are many other statistics that illustrate the same point. So the world needs vastly expanded urban infrastructure for a growing population, a clean energy supply and sustainable, new transportation systems.

To make this possible, worldwide construction output is likely to grow more strongly than the global economy. While improved building standards and risk management may reduce accidents, the increasing complexity and scale of construction projects, coupled with their siting in more exposed locations, together generate new risks. These emerging risks need to be understood, mitigated and re-insured. Franco Ciamberlano, Head of Engineering Mediterranean, Central & Eastern Europe and the Middle East, explains: "To work towards the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the public and private sectors will have to invest in improvements to life quality and safety standards, as well as in reducing poverty and inequality. And Swiss Re is helping make this happen by bringing together stakeholders in infrastructure development and leveraging synergies across its various markets."

Towards this end, the company has aready been speaking extensively to clients, created two internal reinsurance networks to exchange insights into infrastructure and renewable energy and published thought-leadership papers on infrastructure development.

Swiss Re's infrastructure proof-point expert, Greg Schiffer, says: "This topic is close to our heart and I believe we have an exciting story to tell." As Global Head of Trade and Infrastructure, Greg goes on to say: "The re/insurance world is changing. Our clients no longer operate in silos, and we shoudn't either. A holistic approach to risk over the full lifetime of an infrastructure investment gives us a better overview of our portfolio, allows us to provide our clients with comprehensive management of their exposures and helps close the protection gap."

Infrastructure has also been the focus of three recent Special Lines global events in Sao Paolo in May, Kuala Lumpur in August and most recently at the Engineering Underwriting Forum in Zurich. All three events centre-staged infrastructure investment and insurance. The purpose behind them was to showcase Swiss Re's entire value proposition in this context. The events involved most of the special lines but also other areas such as Casualty with Professional Indemnity and Claims. The events have also supported the revamp and relaunch of our infrastructure rating tool PUMA at the beginning of this year.

At the Zurich event, we also explained Swiss Re's involvement in the Madaster Project, designed to find ways to reduce infrastructure's carbon footprint through re-using building materials. Going forward, Swiss Re will have to increasingly develop products across infrastructure's whole lifespan, including the recycling of construction materials. This way, it'll be responding both to the needs of its clients and, ultimately, of society at large.

Resilience doesn't just happen. Resilience needs to be built.