More than 100 of the world’s top insurance companies have issued a United Nations-backed call for governments to use risk management techniques and insurance know-how to help developing nations adapt to climate change.
Four insurance associations on climate change, including the UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), which together represent these 100-plus companies, made the plea yesterday in London to world leaders and negotiators talking part in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
“The insurance industry is making it clear: it has the expertise and the creative solutions to assist vulnerable countries and communities manage the risks of climate change,” said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
“But it is a partnership that works both ways,” he stressed, urging governments to harness insurance companies’ reservoir of risk assessment skills and to also make big cuts in emissions.
The recent floods in Pakistan, China and Niger are a timely reminder that the world must bolster its resilience to climate change, which is likely to have the most devastating effect on poorer countries.
Natural catastrophes – nearly 80 per cent of them weather-related – have amounted to losses of $90 billion annually for the past three decades. Some 85 per cent of all deaths associated with natural disasters occurred in developing countries.
The associations’ joint statement emphasized that risk management mechanisms are falling short of their potential in helping enhance developing countries’ resilience to climate change.
It called on governments to implement globally agreed-upon risk reduction measures, provide economic and regulatory frameworks to allow insurance to function at all levels of society, and to invest in reliable risk exposure data that is freely available to the public.
The statement also urged governments to formally recognize the potential role that insurance can play in UN climate negotiations.
“There is now an opportunity, given the current international negotiations under the UNFCCC, to firmly anchor insurance expertise and components into any global adaptation mechanism under the international climate change regime,” according to a press release issued by the four associations.