In 2016 climate change began to move at unprecedented speed. And as highlighted in the run up to the Paris agreement, the Asia Pacific region is exceptionally exposed to with rising sea-level rises and more impactful weather related disasters threatening the region's economies. With that, important development gains in terms of poverty-reduction, food and energy security and health are also at risk.
A key topic of the World Economic Forum in 2017 is responsive and responsible leadership. There are some very inspiring examples across Asia in the last few years, where governments have taken big steps to strengthen climate resilience. One example is the Chinese government which recently structured a disaster risk insurance programme that can help both agriculture-focused regions (Heilongjiang) and industrial conglomerations (Guangdong) to protect themselves better and respond faster against disasters related to extreme weather. In thinking more strategically about insurance-based resilience options, governments also lower the pressure on their own fiscal balance sheets and by extension, tax payers pockets Thailand has made great strides to protect its rice-farmers. Another leading light is India, with its National Agriculture Insurance Protection programme that now covers more than 25 million farmers.
The beauty of these programmes is that not only do they improve resilience to climate risk, they help to address poverty at the same time. Rural populations are often vulnerable to begin with, but with crops or livestock wiped out they risk sinking into abject poverty and having to leave their farms. Over time this will contribute to crowding the megacities further, and threaten food security as well..
We know that government disaster insurance protection schemes work. The China Insurance Programme, for example, paid out a lump sum to the city of Shanwei less than a week after hurricane Haima struck. And the farmers? Speedy payouts help tide them over, and replant or restock for the next season. The fact that their micro-credit lines are insured, brings advantages such as access to stronger seeds, better tools, improved farming methods, ultimately giving a chance of a better life. Importantly they can keep their farms, and keep farming.
While the interest and will of many governments to put resilience plans in place is there, more can be done – and faster! In some cases it's simply complex and arduous administrative processes that slow down the necessary action. Time is short, there is no plan B. Let's discuss how holistic risk management approaches and innovative insurance can help to ramp up your national and resilience efforts. Not only will it help your country bounce back faster from shocks, it can also help strengthen the basic fabric and prospects of your economy. Simply put: thinking ahead about risk, instead of responding after the fact, is an investment in your country's future!
Category: Climate/natural disasters: Resilience