Some time ago, I was contacted by Camille Buyck from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). She asked if we at Swiss Re were interested to collaborate on a publication project about Protected Areas. And yes, we are very keen to do so! In our daily work with assessing risks from natural catastrophes such as cyclones, floods and coastal surges we realize that not only technical measures but also ecosystems and green infrastructure can significantly reduce damages.
IUCN’s work focuses on valuing and conserving nature,ensuring effective and equitable governance of its use, and deploying nature-based solutions to global challenges in climate, food and development.
After getting in contact, Camille and myself quickly realized that introducing the work we have done in our Economics of Climate Adaptation studies, and specifically assessing benefits and costs of mangroves and reefs in Barbados, could be very valuable for the publication.
With our natural catastrophe models we cannot only assess risks from our clients that we take on our balance sheet but we can also identify and prioritize prevention and adaptation measures. We do this in a systematic way with the Economics of Climate Adaptation methodology. We show that adaptation measures are available to make societies more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
In Barbados, we found that damage from wind, storm surge and inland flooding already amounts to 4% of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per year. With economic growth and climate change, this number will increase to 5% of GDP by 2030. But the good news is that protecting mangroves and reviving coral reefs can considerably reduce damage from strong winds and storm surge. Every dollar invested in the Folkestone Marine Park on the west coast of Barbados, for instance, could reduce 20 dollars of hurricane loss. We see that early investment in climate resilience is more cost-effective than post-disaster recovery. Barbados can cost-effectively avoid more than a third of expected losses by implementing risk mitigation initiatives such as mangrove revivals but also improved building codes and flood protection measures.
Authors from 17 more case studies found valuable benefits of Protected Areas and ecosystem services, such as Bhitarkanika National Conservation Area in India, Christchurch Coastal Parks of New Zealand and Po River Delta Protected Area in Italy.
Category: Climate/natural disasters: Climate change, Disaster risk, Floods/storms, Resilience