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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Facing More Extreme Weather, Insurers and Cities Forge New Path Toward Climate Resiliency

New resources for city leaders to better protect residents from extreme weather

City leaders and urban planners now have a suite of new tools to better protect residents from extreme weather events like Typhoon Haiyan and Superstorm Sandy, thanks to three new resources released this month by Ceres, ClimateWise and other groups.
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Boston, MA Dec 04, 2013

City leaders and urban planners now have a suite of new tools to better protect residents from extreme weather events like Typhoon Haiyan and Superstorm Sandy, thanks to three new resources released this month by Ceres, ClimateWise and other groups.

Developed in partnership with insurance-industry leaders and cities on the frontline of rising sea levels and more powerful extreme weather, the tools are designed to catalyze and expand cross-sector collaboration; present a new strategic planning framework for strengthening resiliency; and assist city leaders and other key stakeholders in organizing follow-up actions.

“By incorporating the insurance sector’s risk-management expertise into their planning, coastal and non-coastal cities can strengthen their resiliency and better protect their economies from natural disasters and climate change,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, a nonprofit organization mobilizing business leadership on climate change and other sustainability challenges.

“To ensure ongoing investment and sustainable growth in our cities, we need to build confidence in their future by strengthening their ability to adapt to climate change and to bounce back after disasters,” added John Coomber, chairman of ClimateWise, noting that the cost of urban disasters in 2011 alone was over $380 billion.

The tools reflect input and best practices from more than 150 insurance industry executives, developers, city leaders and other stakeholders in Boston, San Diego, and Toronto, who came together for a series of climate resiliency workshops over the past year. The workshops were organized by Ceres in collaboration with ClimateWise, a global insurance industry leadership group, and ICLEI, a global network of more than 1,000 local governments leading on sustainability.

Leading insurers in the U.S. and Canada were key partners in the workshops.

“Getting climate resilience right in cities should be a priority for all of us," said Mark Way, Head of the Sustainability Americas Hub at Swiss Re, the global reinsurance giant. “This initiative demonstrates the importance of bringing the insurance industry into the climate resiliency discussion.”

“The challenge of harnessing the expertise and resources of various stakeholders, and catalyzing a collective response to better protect our societal and economic interests is no small undertaking,” added Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators in Canada, another workshop participant. “Through innovation and collaboration, we can succeed in building more resilient cities that serve as an engine for sustainable development for this and future generations.”

“We recognize that insurers have a pivotal role to play in translating scientific findings and models into risks that can be more readily understood by businesses and communities,” added Mazdak Moini, VP Underwriting Strategy, Risk & Reinsurance, at Aviva Canada. “We also realize that such work can’t be done in isolation. That’s why we value the collaborative platform that ClimateWise/Ceres provides insurance leaders, including coordinating a single, coherent voice that policymakers and planners can rely on to make decisions for the long term resilience of cities.”

Available resources including the following:

  1. Building Climate Resilience in Cities: Priorities for Collaborative identifies priorities for collaborative action between the insurance industry and city leaders, lays out strategies, and encourages public/private partnerships to protect people and property.
  2. Building Resilient Cities: From Risk Assessment to Redevelopment explains in greater detail a new strategic planning framework, called a “Resilience Zone,” which was introduced and explored during the multi-city workshops.
  3. The Insurer-City Resiliency Toolkit, based on materials used during the workshops to identify priorities for collaborative action, will assist city leaders and other urban resiliency stakeholders in organizing their own multi-stakeholder workshops.


Historically, efforts to build climate resilience in cities have been led by public policy and planning efforts. But faster and larger-scale investment and behavior change is needed to ensure cities are prepared for future risks. The private sector has a crucial and catalytic role to play.

“Cities cannot do it alone,” said Ewa Jackson, acting director of ICLEI Canada. “Cities cannot work effectively in isolation.  But through public-private partnerships, cities and the insurance sector have the power to protect people and property, and to develop urban resiliency.”

“Analyzing and managing risk is at the heart of the insurance business,” Ceres’ Mindy Lubber said. “And just as insurers led the charge for fire safety in the 20th century, insurers are well placed to help identify strategies for managing the risks of a changing climate.”

About Ceres

Ceres is a nonprofit organization mobilizing business and investor leadership on climate change, water scarcity and other sustainability challenges. Ceres directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a network of over 100 institutional investors with collective assets totaling more than $12 trillion. Ceres also directs Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), an advocacy coalition of nearly 30 businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation. For more information, visit http://www.ceres.org or follow on Twitter @CeresNews.

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