Canadian Underwriter

ICLR research agenda includes blackouts, water damage and drought

June 13, 2004   by Canadian Underwriter

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While it may read as the ingredients for Armageddon, the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction’s (ICLR) research agenda for the coming year encompasses a host of natural perils ranging from last year’s blackout to water and disasters to drought and winter windstorms.
The agenda was set out at the ICLR’s agm in Toronto Friday by outgoing chair Gregg Hanson, CEO of Wawanesa and one of the ICLR’s founding board members.
In fact, Hanson says he “recalls with pride the discussions that took place in 1997” which led to the formation of ICLR, now entering its seventh year as an insurance industry supported partnership with researchers to understand and mitigate the damage to lives and the economy from natural disasters. “The industry cannot be just a cost-flow system,” Hanson says of the need to work on disaster mitigation. “The industry must be part of the solution.”
In that vein, ICLR is supports research including three significant projects for the coming year. The first, on water and disasters, will culminate in an international conference to be held in London, Ontario and chaired by University of Western Ontario (UWO) researcher Dr. Slobodan Simonovic. This year will also see the release of research led by Dr. Brenda Murphy on the lack of preparedness to respond to repeats of disasters such as the 2003 blackout or the Pine Lake, Alberta tornadoes. And, work is underway through the industrial research chair on extreme weather events at McGill University, with Dr. Ron Stewart looking at the impact of drought on winter windstorms.
In 2003, the ICLR helped publish 10 research papers, Hanson notes. It also provided seed money for the UWO “three little pigs” wind research project, which has now secured funding of $7 million. In the last six years, ICLR has provided $3 million in funding, and he adds, “we should be proud that $3 million has leveraged more than 10-fold in amount” to fund loss-prevention projects.
Currently, ICLR is working with more than 30 researchers and countless students adds institute executive director Paul Kovacs. As well, it is supporting projects in child care centers and homes to educate the public on low-cost ways to make buildings safer.
Incoming ICLR chair is David Wilmot of Toa Re, and Royal & SunAlliance CEO Rowan Saunders will also be joining the board of directors.

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