Canadian Underwriter

Insurers, non-profits offer new resources on building resilient cities in face of climate risks

November 21, 2013   by Canadian Underwriter

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A group of non-profit and industry organizations have launched a new set of resources that identifies priorities for the insurance industry and cities to build resilience against climate change.

“The Building Climate Resilience in Cities” resources were developed through a series of workshops in 2012 and 2013 in the United States and Canada, which included participation from more than 150 insurance industry executives, developers, city leaders and other stakeholders in Boston, San Diego and Toronto.

Aviva Canada, The Co-operators Group and Swiss Re were among the property and casualty participants in the process.

The effort was driven by U.S. non-profit Ceres, which focuses on sustainable business issues and ClimateWise, part of the University of Cambridge, a global insurance industry leadership group focused on climate risk issues.

ICLEI, a  global network of more than 1,000 local governments leading on sustainability and resilience issues, also helped convene city stakeholders.

“A well integrated cross-sectoral approach will be critical to effectively manage the growing risks facing our climate-vulnerable cities in the decades ahead,” Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators noted in a statement.

“The challenge of harnessing the expertise and resources of various stakeholders, and catalyzing a collective response to better protect our societal and economic interests is no small undertaking. But through innovation and collaboration, we can succeed in building more resilient cities that serve as an engine for sustainable development for this and future generations.”

The new resources, available through the Ceres website, include:

  • Building Climate Resilience in Cities: Priorities for Collaborative Action – a concise summary of the top concerns to catalyze and expand cross-sector collaboration.
  • Building Resilient Cities: From Risk Assessment to Redevelopment – explains, in much greater detail, a new strategic planning framework, called a “Resilience Zone” which was introduced and explored during the multi-city workshops.
  • Insurer-City Resiliency Toolkit – based on material used during the multi-city workshops to identify priorities for collaborative action, this toolkit will assist city leaders and other urban resiliency stakeholders to organize their own multi-stakeholder workshops.

“At Aviva, we recognize that insurers have a pivotal role to play in translating scientific findings and models into risks that can be more readily understood by individuals, businesses, communities and cities,” Mazdak Moini, vice president of underwriting strategy, risk and reinsurance at Aviva Canada noted in a statement.

“We also realize that such work can’t be done in isolation.  As such, we value the collaborative platform that ClimateWise/CERES provides insurance industry leaders including coordinating a single, coherent voice that policymakers and planners can rely on to make decisions for the long term resilience of cities to the changing climate.”

“Integrating insurance and risk transfer into planning to bolster urban climate resilience is essential but often overlooked,” Mark Way, head of the Sustainability Americas Hub at Swiss Re also noted.

“This initiative demonstrates the importance of bringing the insurance industry into the discussion and the value that cross-sector collaboration, including with leadership groups such as ClimateWise, brings. Getting climate resilience right in cities should be a priority for all of us.”