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13 Aug 13 08:03

The arrival of the monsoon season in Asia has brought the first heavy rains to India and China. With those rains have come harrowing images of people injured, killed ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22579629) or driven from the land by water and mud ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-23099445).

My thoughts are with the victims of the floods, and these events also underlined for me the need to help people build more resilient communities.

Resilience is a term that describes a community's ability to withstand a natural disaster and bounce back afterwards. This capability requires several ingredients – both immediate help after the disaster and the prospect of being able to build a new life in the years ahead. These aspects are also linked to sustainability.

If people see no future at home, they migrate. Migration in turn can lead to social and political tension which ultimately often negatively affects a country's economy - a vicious cycle which dilutes the possibility of building a sustainable society.

It is clear to me that we cannot improve economic efficiency, protect and restore our ecological systems, and enhance social well-being if we remain seriously vulnerable to natural disasters.

So, what can be done to strengthen resilience in the countryside?

First of all, the longer we delay adapting to the impact of severe weather and climate change, the greater the challenge will become. The collaboration of many parties is required. Governments must improve common infrastructure. The communities at risk need access to education so people can learn how to adapt traditional ways of life to new realities. Last but not least we need resources and money.

In all these areas, insurance has a role to play. As a business, we must provide insurance to make improvements possible. This can range from classical insurance that covers the construction of roads and bridges to microinsurance that gives farmers the resources for a new start after an event.

But the insurance industry can also contribute the know-how of our specialists to assist planning for major events and our voice in the international debate, where we push for sustainable development.

Take a look at what we have to offer. You can find it under Re-Thinking on http://www.swissre.com/rethinking/. We are willing to do our part – so why not take us up on it? Talk to us; tell us what you need.


Category: Climate/natural disasters: Climate change, Floods/storms, Resilience

Location: Asia


4 Comments

Daniel Martin Eckhart - 21 Aug 2013, 8:31 a.m.

Yes, absolutely, re/insurance has a huge role to play - if the industry doesn't accept the risk, then behavior will change. In this we can and must bring our expertise to companies and governments. Ours should be a stamp of approval - if we insure it, it should automatically be a stamp of sustainability - we've looked at it, we've brought our expertise - our taking risk should ideally always be combined with sustainability improvements.

I really do believe that the future will demand change from all of us. A massive, fundamental shift in thinking. As Swiss Re's Head of Emerging Risk Reto Schneider said "We need different economic models. We have to redefine our values and measure success in a different manner." I believe our industry can be a powerful catalyst to bring about that kind of redefinition. A tall order - but I can't see a more noble and meaningful goal!

Urs Leimbacher - 26 Aug 2013, 1:28 p.m.

Moses has a point in highlighting what solutions insurers can provide. Governments can prepare better, too, for example by establishing national risk maps and developing strategies to manage and mitigate identified risks.

As a Swiss, I am happy to see that the Swiss government is moving ahead in this direction - as the post by Stefan Brem of the Swiss Government illustrates: http://openminds.swissre.com/stories/372/

Let's hope that this will also inform the inter-governmental dialogue about how best to go about identifying a country's risk exposure and move towards adequate strategies for risk management.

The current initiative by the Rockefeller Foundation to help 100 cities to develop strategies to become more resilient - http://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/blog/100-resilient-cities - is another case in point - this time focusing on the city level.

Alex Randall - 12 Sep 2013, 9:35 a.m.

I'm not sure that migration is always as negative as you suggest here. In some cases it can be someone's only option for adapting to continued disasters.

Veronica - 26 Sep 2013, 9:22 a.m.

Indeed, I believe this goes to the point that if insurance solutions could be used to mitigate the effects of catastrophes, perhaps then migration need not be anyone's only option or response.


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