Risk Management

Paying for Resilience: Market Drivers and Financial Means

When I worked for the City of Chicago applying its Climate Action Plan, our work was funded by the lack of climate resilience: The City had successfully sued the electric utility for failing to provide service during an extreme heat event, and the settlement paid for many staff and climate-related. That’s a rare situation, though. Today, requests from cities, nonprofits and philanthropy to figure out finance to help fulfill resilience dreams fill my inbox.

In the last few months, I’ve offered counsel to cities as diverse as Minot, N.D. (at the invitation of FEMA), Miami Beach (at the invitation of the Urban Land Institute) and Buras, La. (at the request of the Rockefeller Foundation 100 Resilient Cities). Speaking with these local and innovative government leaders has helped me refine my own understanding of the current state of resilience finance in the U.S.

Here are at least four market inspirations I have gleaned that could drive more resilience finance:

  1. In its report “Climate Adaptation and Liability,” the Conservation Law Foundation unveils numerous cases describing a new era in the “duty to care” for designers, real estate professionals and municipal government officials as events that future climate scenarios envision replace force majeur events.
  2. Although the federal National Flood Insurance Program distorts price signals in the risk transfer elements of the market – and I strongly encourage you to engage on its reauthorization, perhaps starting by reviewing this excellent piece – in such highly vulnerable markets as Houston and Miami, an insurance price signal is emerging as flood insurance premiums rise faster there than elsewhere.
  3. Credit rating. Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have made announcements that the physical risks from climate change will be factored into municipal credit ratings, and S&P has been clearer about this impact, for instance as shown in the article How Our U.S. Local Government Criteria Weather Climate Risk. Municipalities don’t want their debt to be more expensive and, therefore, less attractive to investors, so this is a big deal.
  4. Big data. With the emergence of big data modelers such as Airworldwide, RMS and Core Logic in the past decade, more financial services professionals will have growing access to the cost of both actual and avoided loss from extreme events. While cities cannot afford these big modelers, financial sector parties are applying them to city problems and generating new methods to create “bankability” – revenue generation from projects that traditionally don’t generate rates or fees. For instance, resilience bonds, described in a very approachable way by re:focus partners in this report, link future insurance savings to a bank of funds for current risk mitigation projects.

Along with these drivers, progress continues in the debt market, creating more means to fund city resilience. Most importantly, that headway should include a swift pivot of general obligation bonds from traditional investments that neither create collateral benefits nor consider climate change scenarios to resilience investments promising more long-term return and performance given future risk. That is really the only way to ensure we create resilient cities. But with close to 80,000 issuers of municipal bonds in the country, the four key drivers above are key for ensuring this transition.

At the same time, the growth of innovative bond mechanisms could also help cities increase funds for resilience. The District of Columbia has had success with green bondsfor its water and sewer authority, while the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has created excellent examples of sustainability bonds’ utility. The resilience bonds mentioned above are another in this category. Of course, catastrophe bonds – some with hurricane triggers – are another insurance-linked mechanism for getting money to cities after disasters.

In a future post, I will suggest ways cities can invite more resilience finance, given these market levers and financial means.

This post originally appeared on Triple Pundit.

Vanguard Adaptation Leader: U.S. Department of Defense

The community of adaptation leaders should, indeed must, bolster its essential link with the national security apparatus.  Three reports suggest why:

1.     The Department of Defense has created a Roadmap (2014) with an objective to collaborate with stakeholders, including the adaptation community. Specifically, it says it seeks to promote deliberate collaboration with stakeholders across the Department and with other Federal, State, local, tribal and international agencies and oorganizations in addressing climate change considerations.

The report maintains that climate change “is a long-term trend, but with wise planning and risk mitigation now, we can reduce adverse impacts downrange.”  The authors’ use of the term “downrange” is important. While it’s not necessarily the future, it’s a target that may be farther away and, therefore, requires careful preparation to nail. 

The report concludes: “By taking a proactive, flexible approach to assessment, analysis, and adaptation, the Defense Department will keep pace with a changing climate, minimize its impacts on our missions, and continue to protect our national security.”

2.     In 2015, the DOD released another report on the national implications of climate change that notes the need to adapt military facilities – many located along the coasts and/or in arid environments – and to develop adaptation strategies to diffuse risks in developing countries.

3.     The White House in September released a Statement and a National Security document about integrating climate change into national security. But, in a missed opportunity, the documents do not mention adaptation.

As panel submission deadlines loom for the biannual National Adaptation Forum, I hope its steering committee has invited the DOD to speak at the May 2017 forum.  The Defense Department is at the frontline in its adaptation leadership. We should try to leapfrog one another, helping to inform adaptation strategies for communities of stakeholders and to enhance research to action.

 

 

 

Laurels for Credit Rating Agencies:Levers of Change in the Climate Adaptation Market

The voices and actions of the financial industry are critical to change capital market policy and practice change. That’s why I’m thrilled credit rating agencies are seizing their role as levers of change in the adaptation market. Consider these three examples of their newfound interest:

  1. Standard & Poor’s explicitly weighs adaptation in its new Proposed Green Bond evaluation tool.

  2. S&P proposes an Environmental Social and Governance risk exposure assessment.

  3. In its proposed ESG assessment tool, S&P acknowledges the differences in the time horizon of risk

Read my oped published in Triple Pundit for more insights: http://www.triplepundit.com/2016/10/laurels-credit-raters-levers-change-climate-adaptation-market/

Earth Hour Sheds Light on 5 Grim Climate Facts

This post originally appeared on http://www.crs.org/stories/earth-hour-sheds-light-5-grim-climate-facts Climate change affects lives each day around the globe. From summer heat waves to drastic floods, it touches the wealthiest individuals living in modern cities and the poorest in developing countries. The effects of climate change can reach far beyond the expected ecosystems, economic sectors and populations.

CRS and our partner in El Salvador are helping farmers like Candido Hernandez Orellana build back harvests ruined by drought. Photo by Oscar Leiva/Silverlight for CRS

CRS and our partner in El Salvador are helping farmers like Candido Hernandez Orellana build back harvests ruined by drought. Photo by Oscar Leiva/Silverlight for CRS

On March 19, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. local time, cities, landmarks and businesses around the world will turn off their lights for one hour. The goal of this Earth Hour is to highlight climate change dangers.

Climate change is happening now, and predictions for the future are grim.

Below are five of the most shocking climate statistics that you may have been in the dark about:

  1. Events influenced by climate change took 12,994 lives in 2015.

This startlingly high number, provided by the International Disaster Database at the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, is up from 8,056 in 2014, showing just how dangerous climate change is becoming. There is a pressing need to adapt to climate change in order to protect lives threatened by droughts, fires, heat waves, storms, floods and landslides.

  1. The total monetary cost of events influenced by climate change in 2015 was $74.6 billion.

This data from the International Disaster Database highlights the huge economic impact. Besides the social, physical, and environmental needs, among many others, to mitigate and adapt to minimize future damage, there is an increasing economic need as well.

  1. 90% of the recorded natural disasters from 1995 to 2015 were influenced by climate and weather.

According to the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, the United States had the highest number of disasters, followed by China, India, the Philippines and Indonesia. Resilience and disaster planning are needed to reduce risks and mitigate impacts of floods, heat waves, droughts and other potentially catastrophic climate-related events.

  1. With no action, climate change costs and risks will accumulate to an equivalent of an annual loss of at least 5% of global GDP.

A report by Jonathan M. Harris, Brian Roach and Anne-Marie Codur at Tufts University, “The Economics of Global Climate Change,” predicts losses of land area, species and forests; and water supply disruption, increased human health dangers and drought. These changes—affecting biodiversity, agricultural production and human survival—will likely be irreversible. Other, less predictable, effects may include changing weather patterns, rapid melting of major ice sheets and glaciers, and an increasing rate of global warming.

  1. The total annual cost of climate change on human health will total about $2 to $4 billion by 2030.

This estimate from the World Health Organization accounts for the detrimental effects of climate change on vital basic resources, such as clean air, safe water, adequate nutrition and protective shelter. WHO also estimates 250,000 more deaths will occur annually between 2030 and 2050 because of climate change.

These numbers underscore the great sense of urgency to act against climate change to protect innocent lives.

Author: Joyce Coffee is managing director of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index. 

Patricia Holly, a University of Notre Dame student, contributed to this article.

Let's Create a Climate Adaptation Opportunity Standard to Catalyze Investors

Three examples illustrate a need  to inspire an adaptation marketplace. 1. the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, unlike its 20 predecessors, prioritized adaptation & finance. 2. the 2016 Global Risk Perceptions Survey (WEF 2016) ranks failure to adapt to climate change 1st of 28 risks in terms of potential negative impact. 3. UNEP (2015) calculates the adaptation finance gap will be US$140-300B/year by 2030. There is a need for increased funding for adaptation projects, many of which create jobs & stimulate economies as a co-benefit of protecting human & natural communities from the effects of climate change. One barrier is the absence of an adaptation market, a mechanism by which adaptation projects can be traded as commodities, financed by private, government and development investors.

This absence is partly due to a lack of a standard measure for adaptation success that would e.g. create tradable adaptation credit, increase adaptation project bankability, and direct finance to short- and long-term adaptation projects.

What type of measure is needed to evaluate the potential success of adaptation projects? What types of investment decisions will it influence? Is it the same need for development and private sector investors? Addressing these questions will help to benchmark and establish a draft adaptation Standard in collaboration with  the private and development sectors.

A nascent investor-lead Global Adaptation & Resilient Investment (GARI) group is attempting to address this need. ND-GAIN & GARI have identified missing knowledge that will spur the adaptation market: a globally accepted project-level measure of adaptation success that assesses progress thereby quantifying opportunity for investors & inspiring a new marketplace that will improve both lives & economies in the face of climate change. The standard will direct investment flows into projects that have climate adaptation & market benefits, inspire investment for adaptation projects not previously considered, credit existing projects, & shape growth of investor tools, such as debt instruments.

 

This standard will be comprised of a unique & efficient set of indicators that measure the success of adaptation investments. Potential indicators will be evaluated against outcomes including avoided death & damage, avoided cost & collateral job, ecosystem & greenhouse gas mitigation benefits.

 

The creation of an international standard to measure climate risk & opportunity entails:

  1. Establish theoretical baseline standard of adaptation measurement
  2. Improve Standard concept through feedback from users
  3. Support investor community to pilot the Standard on existing & proposed adaptation investments
  4. Draft paper proposing a standards for adaptation project measurement
  5. Share knowledge with marketplace

 

The goal is to reduce barriers and foster growth in a global market for adaptation projects by expanding the number of projects, investors and improved human lives.

The ultimate outcome of this Standard will be to inspire a global market for adaptation projects that save lives & improve livelihoods through private sector & development agency investments that help prevent the avoidable & manage the unpreventable in the new era of droughts, super-storms, flooding, fires & other climate stresses & shocks.

Let ndgain@nd.edu know if you are interested in joining us in this important work!

WEF's Global Risk Report: Clarion Call for Adaptation

 WEF Global Risks of Highest Concern 2016

WEF Global Risks of Highest Concern 2016

In 2016, the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report concentrates on the likelihood and impact of environmental and societal risks. Three of the top five most likely risks are environmental, including failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation ranking as 3rd most likely and as the most potentially impactful. This year is the first time in almost ten years that an environmental risk has ranked first in terms of impact. Water crises and involuntary migration also rank in the top five for most impactful risks in 2016.  

Over time, climate-related issues have increasingly ranked higher in potential impact and likelihood of occurrence in this vanguard report.. These risks feature prominently in the highest concern list for the next 18 months. And, with a longer term view over the next ten years all five of the risks of highest concern relate to climate change: water crisis, failure of mitigation and adaptation, extreme weather events, food crisis and profound social instability importance of climate-related events.

The report presents many risks that are interconnected, such that they may be mitigated or aggravated by the same action or event. Climate change, as a trend, is heavily weighted, indicating strong connections with many other risks, including extreme weather events, water crises, biodiversity loss, and ecosystem collapse. These data indicate a need for nations, as well as businesses and local governments, to collaborate to address climate change – especially to implement and measure adaptation projects.

Important questions are now presented to the world. Climate change must clearly become a global priority, but what is the best way to go about both mitigating it and, adapting to it?  Some of those questions were addressed in the Paris Decision and Agreement, where a mitigation target is on par with not only a global adaptation goal, but also the humbling Loss and Damage. With Loss and Damage an official part of the agreement and the educated elite that participate in WEF’s survey defining major risks as the lack of adaptive capacity, there is a resounding clarion call to create adaptation actions in water and food security today that save lives and improve livelihoods.

Thanks to Patricia Holland, ND-GAIN Intern, for her help with this blog.

Buffering Against Climate Risk: Lessons for the Refugee Crisis

This blog was initially published by our partner, the RANE network:  https://www.ranenetwork.com/rane-blog/buffering-against-climate-risk-lessons-for-the-refugee-crisis/ As the world watches countless economic migrants and war refugees journey perilously from their volatile homelands to relatively stable countries that respond with tactics as varied as their histories, two overarching questions arise: How did we arrive at this stage of human suffering? And what can we do to avoid it from occurring again?

I think it is worth examining why some countries withstand stress while others don’t. In my work with the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index, I focus on how countries adapt to the stresses and shocks of climate change. I think there are valuable lessons from this examination of climate risks to help explain why some countries are buffered from creating refuges when times get tough.

In ND-GAIN’s country index, we identify those countries that have significantly improved their economic, social or governance components (which we examine as a way to understand a country’s readiness to take on adaptation investment) and have decreased their climate vulnerability over the past two decades

There is a unique set of 10 countries who have decreased their vulnerability and increased their readiness more over the last 20 years.

While this set of countries seem more diverse than similar – different locations, government type, history and economic systems, these countries share common features, and one in particular stands out from the 46 indicators ND-GAIN examines: political stability. It turns out that the stability afforded by good governance in the form of political stability may buffering them from stress turning to crisis in the case of both climate risk and emigration.

It is interesting to examine the diversity in these countries’ approach to gaining political stability. The countries can be categorized into three groups: those who improved, those who worsened but then rebuilt and those who remained mostly unchanged.

In the first group are Rwanda, Angola, Georgia and Turkey. Each has improved its political stability since 1995. Rwanda and Angola, for instance, have made significant peacekeeping strides from their violent past of civil wars and genocides. Human rights have improved there, too.

The group of countries whose political stability worsened but then rebounded includes Saudi Arabia, Belarus and Oman. Saudi Arabia’s leader suffered a stroke, which led to an odd period of leadership. The war in Iraq and al-Qaeda’s presence in the region also affected it and led to decreased political stability. Since, however, the Saudi government has retained some of its lost political stability, which helps it prepare for climate change.

Oman also suffered from events in Iraq but made great progress since in its elections and freedoms. Belarus, which gained independence in 1991 from the Soviet Union but then endured abusive authoritarian rule, regained political stability after its people protested.

Those countries that remained mostly politically stable in the past 20 years include Uruguay, Mauritius and the United Arab Emirates. While they experienced quite a bit of change during this period, they dealt with it within their current political system, and this has led to their success in climate change preparedness.

As Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin notes, “… it’s what doesn’t happen that proves success. When disruptions do not become disasters, we’ve won. When a community is resilient and stays strong in the face of a crisis, (we) mark a victory.”

These 10 countries, then, may well hold lessons to today’s heart-breaking emigration from Syria and elsewhere. In the 10, we see political stability as a buffer to the shocks and stresses of climate change — and perhaps as well to the tragedy of exodus from them.

 

Countries whose vulnerability to climate change, other global challenges decreased while readiness to improve resilience improved. (Top 10 out of 182)

Country ND-GAIN Country Index Score Improvement 1995-2013
United Arab Emirates 16.06
Saudi Arabia 13.98
Turkey 12.56
Rwanda 12.24
Oman 12.04
Georgia 11.23
Mauritius 11.11
Angola 10.85
Uruguay 10.65
Belarus 10.56

 

Joyce Coffee is managing director of the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN). 

UNISDR Launches RISE Initiative for Disaster Risk-Sensitive INVESTMENT

“Economic losses from disasters are out of control and can only be reduced in partnership with the private sector.” ̶ United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon

 

The United Nation’s Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, or UNISDR, and PwC, the global professional services network, launched their ambitious R!SE Initiative in the United States early this month in Boston, seeking to embed disaster risk management into investment decisions.

R!SE reflects a new way of collaborating on a global scale to unlock the potential for public and private sector entities to take leadership on disaster risk reduction. The one-day event on March 2 focused on whether cities should be transparent and share their resilience gaps. That’s also the key question for ND-GAIN as we embark on our Urban Adaptation Assessment with the Kresge Foundation.

 

The R!SE agenda at its launch encompassed a wide band of issues to define and discuss what R!SE seeks to do and why it matters:

  • A session defined the initiative, its different activity streams and projects already underway.
  • One explained why preparedness is important to the U.S. government and how the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s new strategy supports this approach. (In short, the FEMA strategy involves an expeditionary organization that is survivor-centric and enables disaster risk reduction nationally.)
  • Another highlighted public-private partnerships that already promote resilience across the country. It examined the long-term governance structure needed to increase resilience across cities, states and the nation and the correct balance necessary to engage with the public and private sectors.
  • Afternoon breakout sessions explored two-to-three specific questions centering on how to leverage R!SE across the nation to enhance disaster-sensitive investments and to enhance society’s resilience.

Here are five key takeaways:

  1. Transparency is critical, but it’s not always easy from a political perspective to communicate gaps in resilience.
  2. Increasing trust throughout the communication process – by measuring such issues as economic impact that matter to citizens – proves necessary to demonstrate to citizens and communities that resilience investment will benefit them and help cities win battles over other priorities.
  3. A shift has occurred over the past few years toward increasing transparency, perhaps reflecting the rise in the number of activities to actually help increase resilience, not just assess it. The aim: Base every decision on an understanding of resilience.
  4. Since “city leader” isn’t synonymous with government, arming corporate and nonprofit leaders with information to help them develop capacity to increase resilience allows governments to be more transparent about gaps that exist with their constituents.
  5. A key asset of the R!SE Initiative is the Disaster Resilience Scorecard for Cities, created by AECOM, the professional and technical services firm for infrastructure, and IBM for UNISDR. San Francisco has used the scorecard to inform capital asset decisions, which suggests that in the name of transparency, scorecard results should be made available to the public.

 

Oh, and given the similarities with R!SE, please watch this space as ND-GAIN transitions to a focus on urban adaptation issues in 2015.

Brazil drought – the Readiness Prophylactic

   

The bottom of the ND-GAIN Index when ranked by the water sector

Last month, Sao Paolo’s epic drought made headlines around the world, not simply because that’s strange for a place known colloquially as Terra da Garoa(Land of Drizzle). Ranked by the water sector, Brazil sits at a comfortable 20 in the ND-GAIN index. But officials in that country’s most populous city have worried about water supplies for several years and even wonder if it might cause a riot.

 

In other parts of the world, of course, drought has been oncoming for decades. These are the kind of places that already have progressed beyond riot stage into all-out-war. Simply consider the bottom of the ND-GAIN Index when sorted for water. That Syria lies at the bottom shouldn’t be surprising.

 

Other countries – Sudan and Pakistan, for instance – aren’t too surprising either because water shortages have sparked popular discontent. In their cases, droughts in agricultural lands have spurred rural migrations to their cities. Some suggest this contributes to fomenting volatile civil discontent.

I am particularly interested in why those countries that share a low berth on the ND-GAIN rankings seem relatively conflict-free. For instance, comparing the trajectory of Jordan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to that of Syria, Sudan and Pakistan, the suggestion arises that improving governance, social structure and economic opportunity in countries could prove to be a prophylactic to water-scarcity driven civil conflict.

 

That possibility makes me hopeful for countries such as Brazil, whose readiness also has increased over time.   On the graph below, Brazil’s curve resembles a giraffe, just like that of Jordan. So while its readiness rank is 111 in the ND-GAIN Country Index vs. Jordan’s 82, Brazil may be able to increase its resilience to drought and, thus, quell any potential water-scarcity driven unrest.   It appears that it might start is in the social sector.

chart (20)chart (21)

Lunar New Year Predictions from the Climate Leadership Conference

At a session this week (2-23) organized by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions at the Climate Leadership Conference, C2E Staff Scientist Joe Casola facilitated a discussion that asked the 60-plus corporate, nonprofit and government leaders attending to foresee 2035 and predict what business resilience will look like. The absorbing conversation was part of the session “Emerging Best Practices for Identifying Climate Risk and Increasing Resilience.” Other leaders were Rutgers Energy Institute’s Robert Kopp, fourtwentyseven’s Emilie Mazzacurati and Pacific Gas & Electric’s Christopher Benjamin.

Since we are in the midst of the Lunar New Year season, a great time for fortune telling, I thought you would enjoy the group’s top ideas:

Top Six:

  1. Supply-chain risk synonymous with climate risk, making supply-chain, climate-risk mitigation business as usual.
  2. A doubling of interest in small business and Main Street, aided by Chambers of Commerce that help build public/private partnerships to increase local government adaptation.
  3. Climate risk as a shared responsibility across corporate verticals, no longer an exclusive fit with offices of sustainability.
  4. Insurance priced accurately, providing a forcing function on business and land use decisions.
  5. Future cost projections of climate change incorporated into financial and economic estimates for all return-on-investment and strategic decisions.
  6. A generational change in which the leaders in 2035 naturally focus on the question of climate with their work, integrating resilience into their decision making (my favorite).

To these, let me add three of my own:

  • A realization that climate change harms the promise of the growing middle class in lower-income countries, sparking a redoubling of interest in investing in resilience in the global south.
  • A move away from recovery and toward prevention, facilitated in part by mature warning systems, advanced risk prediction and assessment methods that prove the ROI of resilience.
  • A solid pyramid of policies that stack atop each other and form the foundation of good governance. This allows corporations to make resilient business decisions throughout their value chains and to contribute to the good of the commons (worker-protection laws against heat distress, flood plain buffer requirements, landscape water-pricing requirements, etc.)

All of these will be better informed by an agreed-upon measurement of adaptation that rivals the elegant MTCO2E and provides an easy way for everyone to quantify their progress.

What do you think?

 

Emerging Global Risk: Failure to Adapt to Climate Change

While the world still smarts from years of global recession, experts now identify climate change risks as bigger threats to the stability of the world than economic ones.   The World Economic Forum’s Global Risk 2015 Report ranks failure to adapt to climate change 5th out of 28 risks in terms of potential negative impact on countries or industries, and 7th in terms of likelihood of occurrence within the next 10 years. The WEF defines failure to adapt to climate change as governments and businesses failing to enforce or enact effective measures to protect populations and to help businesses impacted by climate change to transition. Although warnings of potential environmental catastrophes have grown more persistent, few survey respondents see much progress in climate change adaptation and in mitigating other environmental risks. The ten WEF Global Risks Reports taken as a whole illustrate the rising likelihood of storms and cyclones, flooding, biodiversity loss, and climate change, and the escalating impacts of extreme weather events. This year, water crises, a risk predominantly dependent on climate dynamics, tops global risks impacts, putting it above spread of infectious diseases and weapons of mass destruction.

Drawing on the perspectives of 900 experts and global decision-makers, the annual report also provides a glimpse into other risks climate change could exacerbate if society fails to adequately adapt. These include water crises, food crises, and extreme weather events. Further, global trends of urbanization, environmental degradation, and weakening of international governance are linked to adaptation failure. These insights point to the need for greater leadership engagement to implement more robust measures for climate change adaptation.

Some crucial questions emerge for government, business, and civil society communities: How does climate change impact society, economics, geopolitics, and technology, and how should it be prioritized? How effective are current adaptation policies and practices? Which areas need special attention?

Increasing Water Security: Enlivening Communities in Africa and Asia

More frequent and severe droughts triggered by climate change place significant stress on the regions of the globe already most arid. That’s why South Pole Carbon and HSBC India, in partnership with JBF, are working to empower and bring purified water to locals in Africa and Asia. These two unique projects were entered in our 2014 Corporate Adaptation Prize Contest. South Pole Carbon

South Pole Carbon’s International Water Purification Programme (IWPP) facilitates investments in clean drinking water to boost both climate-change mitigation and adaptation:

  1. South Pole Carbon provides poor families with a reliable source of clean drinking water, thus enabling individuals and communities to become more resilient against climate change.
  2. It reduces CO2 emissions by ensuring people don’t have to boil their drinking water.

South Pole offers companies the opportunity to invest in individual projects under the IWPP and to generate adaptation and mitigation benefits, measured in liters of clean drinking water provided and in tons of CO2 reduced, respectively. Under the IWPP, companies can achieve their Corporate Social Responsibility targets while gaining measurable benefits.

Here are the scores and trends of South Pole’s target countries, according to the 2012 ND-Global Adaptation Index:

  • Mexico: 59 (trend: stable)
  • Cambodia: 133 (trend: improving)
  • Uganda: 137 (trend: stable)
  • Malawi: 136 (trend: improving)
  • Tanzania: 140 (trend: improving)
  • Kenya: 153 (trend: stable)

South Pole Carbon Water

Source: South Pole Carbon 

HSBC India & the Jal Bhagirathi Foundation

In conjunction with Jal Bhagirathi Foundation (JBF) in India, Hongkong and Shanghai Bank Corporation (HSBC) builds community leadership and leverages innovations to contribute to climate-change adaptation success through potable water harvesting projects in India. As a global commercial bank, HSBC has executed three community-based adaptation projects in Rajasthan’s Marwar region—the world’s most densely populated arid zone. JBF is a nongovernment organization that has been working in the Marwar region of the Thar Desert in Western India since 2002.

Since 2009, the partnership has built on traditional local knowledge and contemporary social and technical innovations to develop, test and replicate adaptive strategies through management of natural resources, especially water.

HSBC India

Source: HSBC India

India ranked 120th on the 2012 ND-Global Adaptation Index with a score of 53.4. Its high vulnerability score and low readiness score makes it the 55th most vulnerable country and the 60th least-ready country. Its advancement by 10 points on the relative ranking since 1999 indicates the impact that corporate investment can make on resilience.

HSBC and JBF seek to improve the adaptive capacity and resilience of local communities:

  1. Available potable water year round through localized water harvesting and landscape management enlivens communities.
  2. Women who earlier fetched water from long distances in extreme desert conditions are saved from the physical stress, and they can use the saved time and energy for children’s education and development and economic activities that increase family income.
  3. Accessible toilets and safe sanitation facilities prevent fecal contamination of scarce water and improve public health, hygiene and environmental conditions.

Key variables are being tracked, including the increased availability of drinking water, the extent of sanitation and the impact on women’s time. On average, each village achieves a 30 percent improvement in water availability annually, translating into an additional 4-to-5 months of water availability per year. The extent of sanitation has increased to 50-to-70 percent from 6-to-25 percent since 2009. This adds 2-to-3 hours of productive activities for the average woman.

Consequently, HSBC and JBF generate an array of benefits to its communities in India:

  1. Health improvement through access to safe water and sanitation
  2. Women empowerment
  3. Education and child development
  4. Livelihood security
  5. Environmental sustainability

Because the integrated village-models are replicable and scalable in line with India’s national water policy framework, HSBC plans to expand its project in the Marwar region to other water-stressed regions in India, through collaboration among its NGO partners.

Visit the Jal Bhagirathi Foundation website for more of the partnership’s projects in India.

This information was compiled with the help of Sophia Chau, Intern, ND-Global Adaptation Index.

China's Role in Adaptation?

This infographic in Fast Company got me thinking:  Is China the answer to African resilience? final version use africa

Anyone worried about climate change would be agog at what this map says:  That Africa (including, it looks like, even the African Sahel, based on the arrow) will be China’s breadbasket!  But other maps of Africa, suggest this might be a fantasy ND-GAIN’s data (as well as that of e.g. Maplecroft) suggest that Africa is vulnerable, including and especially in its food sector.

map

But what if African economic development changed these risk maps?  Then, could we see the sort of hope illustrated in that fantastic Fast Company arrow?

GAIN identifies two types of countries vulnerable to climate change – those ready for investment (due to their economic, social and governance perspectives) and those that are not.  My audience often asks me, how will those countries unready for adaptation investments become less vulnerable?  China, seemingly, is providing that answer.

The Economist reported on the Centre for China & Globalization and National Bureau of Statistics numbers, which showed that China’s direct investment flows are edging toward a slight majority of outflows this year, with around $130B in outflows and about $120B in inflows projected, and Africa is one recipient of that outbound investment. The story we know well is that state-owned enterprises are searching for resources in Africa.  And mining is a part of this story.   But private Chinese firms also are pioneering in the African marketplace, as Peter Orzag explains in Bloomberg.

Earlier this year, Reuters reported that China will extend over $12B in aid to Africa in future years.

Earlier this month, as China’s leader wrapped up a premier tour of strong handshakes and lavish gift-giving around the Pacific following on APEC, I grew hopeful that China turns from a BRIC into a brick-builder that helps African countries and other emerging economies continue to build the foundation of their resiliency.

Cocoa Climate Crisis

IFC
IFC

The International Cocoa organization has reported a 75,000-ton cocoa shortfall for this growing season and that figure is expected to reach the million-ton mark by 2020 unless swift action is taken. While Eastern Europe and Brazil, the biggest cocoa consumers, have registered a surge in chocolate consumption in recent years, extreme weather events have hurt cocoa yields.

Image from IFC

The world’s top producers of cocoa—Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana (59% of the global cocoa supply chain) and Indonesia, Nigeria, and Cameroon (23% together) – are also those hardest hit by drought and flooding yet least prepared to respond to them.

According to ND-GAIN, an index indicating countries’ vulnerability to climate change and readiness to adapt to it, Cote d’Ivoire ranks 154 on a relative scale of 1 to 178 (with 1 being the most resilient); Ghana ranks 102; and Indonesia, Nigeria, and Cameroon rank 99, 140, and 130, respectively.

As a result of cocoa’s unfortunate turn, many cocoa companies, traders and chocolate manufacturers have begun joint projects aiming to boost cocoa yields through sustainability in the supply chain.  Projects have engaged multicorporation collaboration, civil society actors and standards bodies and have generated investments from stakeholder governments. Although some projects have proven fruitful, effective coordination and scalability are still lacking, which provides much opportunity for further collaboration between private and public sectors in the next decade.

Besides climate woes and low adaptive ability, cocoa’s poor performance reflects a supply chain plagued by economic and social issues. Compromised bargaining power of smallholders, income instability and dismal working conditions are prompting many young cocoa farmers to quit in search of livelihoods elsewhere. Other issues include poor or lack of infrastructure (roads, health facilities, schools, and electricity) and a paucity of farmer training capacity. Both would provide public and private sector partnerships with opportunities for positive intervention. Several reports emphasize that yield increase alone will neither alleviate smallholders’ sufferings nor secure supply chains. Thus, the 2012 Cocoa Barometer report called for a holistic approach to solving the cocoa crisis, one going “beyond productivity.”

In the last several years, consumer awareness of these issues surrounding cocoa production has expanded. Major chocolate manufacturers such as Cadbury, based in the United Kingdom, and Mars have committed to certified cocoa production standards that improve cocoa farmers’ security. These standards are specified by internationally recognized standard bodies such as Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) and the Rainforest Alliance. Worldwide, companies and stakeholder nations are shifting toward more sustainable cocoa and have engaged a variety of sectors in multilateral programs.

With climate change accelerating, other key commodities popping up on the risk radar include vanilla, palm oil and coffee, among others.  Keurig Green Mountain, Coca Cola, Heinz, Chipotle and other major food companies have all warned that climate change threatens businesses. Clearly, much room remains for progress, but this also provides ample opportunity for multilateral cooperation in building a more sustainable future for people, planet and profit.

Cocoa data and facts from the 2012 Cocoa Barometer report.  Blog compiled by Sophia Chau, Intern, ND-GAIN

Reflecting Post Sandy

Two years have now passed since Superstorm Sandy crashed into the northeast of the United States, showing Americans the need for climate action. Sandy remains one of the most expensive extreme weather events in history, costing corporations and governments over  $40B. And this year, a drought bit deep across the largest drought-declared area ever in Queensland, Australia. But extreme weather events like bigger, more destructive hurricanes; hotter, longer droughts; record-breaking wildfires and “biblical floods” are not just the domain of two of the richest countries in the world.

Last year at this time, we were, mourning the loss of over 6000 lives from Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.  That tragedy cost $13 billion in economic fall-out.  In 2011, an unprecedented flood in Southern Thailand caused over $150 billion in damage.

In fact, ND-GAIN scientists have calculated that people living in least developed countries have 10 times more chance of being affected by a climate disaster than those in wealthy countries EACH YEAR; And the IPCC report released last week shows we are heading in the wrong direction.  That is a catalyst for all of us – hundreds or thousands of lives are at risk.  We must adapt.

Over the course of the last several years, the world’s awareness for the need to adapt has grown.

How do we respond, informing investments and policies that save lives and improve livelihoods in the face of global shifts?

Our meeting on November 5th served as an ideal platform for participants to deliberate development and business risks and opportunities as we explored successful adaptation efforts, predictions of future challenges and developments in adaptation measurement while learning first hand of trends evident from the ND-GAIN Country Index 2014.  Thirty speakers from all sectors shared their insights, and we released our Country Index to enhance the world’s understanding of the importance of adaptation and inform public and private investments in vulnerable communities.

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Have a look at the recap video, watch footage of the meeting panelists, check out the TV, podcast and written press on the meeting and release, and let us know what you think.

 

Disproportionate risk vs. human resilience

Slide1I continue to mull over several 2014 New York Times articles with the general view that Americans don’t share an affection for communal giving and living. One sage contended that New Yorkers could never respond as the Dutch do under similar circumstances because we just do not know community. I once again dwell on this issue because of the resurgence of childhood diseases considered to be virtually wiped out in the United States, including measles, mumps and pertussis (whooping cough). Part of the problem is cultural, surmises a Times’ Sunday Review article entitled “Americans tend to think more about individual than communal rights.” This Ethics of Infection piece  described the wearing of masks in Asia not simply to protect the wearer from others’ diseases but to protect the public from an illness the wearer has.

“America has gotten so focused on rugged individualism and the autonomy of the person that we forget we have wider ethical responsibilities to our families and communities and our country,” asserted one of those quoted.

Contrast this with a session at a recent ICLEI Resilient Cities Presentation. Nicole Lurie, Assistant HHS Secretary for Preparedness and Response spoke of the value of spontaneous helping “bystanders who don’t stand-by” as a part of the American spirit.

Recent ND-GAIN analysis about disproportionate risk  shows that many African and Asian countries exhibit the dangerous combination of high vulnerability and low readiness. This made me think of a vector ND-GAIN doesn’t explore: human resilience.

Consider a recent outreach I made to a company that started awkwardly. I realized their resilience for their business model reflected the human resilience to shocks and stresses and post-traumatic stress disorder. It wasn’t the resilience of the built and natural environment to shocks and stresses. Yet isn’t that what all this work is about, anyway?

In Bending Adversity, journalist David Pilling examines Japan’s resilience in the face of calamity. He notes three words for which, as I try to pronounce them, I clench my fist, hold back tears and soldier on with feeling. The words are ganbaru (to endure), ganbatte (keep going) and gaman (plucky resolve). He contends these features helped Japanese rebound after the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster.

While it may seem crass to apply a metric to ganbaru, ganbatte and gaman, I certainly would like to know what cultures have figured out how to grit their teeth and persevere. Then I could investigate if elements of those cultures might prove replicable elsewhere. My intuition tells me that, whatever factors trigger it, those living in countries with disproportionate risk could teach much to those of us who are relatively less vulnerable to physical, governance and other shocks and stresses.

 

 

Corporate Adaptation Stories: Risky Business

With mid-term U.S. elections less than two months away, I have been scanning the news eagerly to locate any references to the significant Risky Business Project report on climate change released in June. I wondered if the report’s critical findings have stoked any passionate fires within any elected officials or their opponents. Alas, political contests this year don’t seem to rest on the future of our country – or any of its political districts – as far as the effects of climate change are concerned.

What a shame. Reflecting its remarkable array of leaders on its advisory board, Risky Business has a well-thought-out strategy: Engage influencers from both sides of the political aisle, inform them with potent data that illuminates how climate change is impacting key sectors of the U.S. economy, and then get them to prod their powerful networks to move on mitigating the effects of pollution and other environmental dangers.

When lawmakers grasp that message (if they ever do), then climate change will move to the front burners and, hopefully, lead to ways to counter the effects that Risky Business convincingly demonstrates already are impacting crime, food, health, infrastructure and other vital sectors.

The report notes that the project aims to highlight climate risks to specific business sectors and regions of the economy and to provide actionable data at a geographically granular level for decisionmakers. “Right now, cities and businesses are scrambling to adapt to a changing climate without sufficient federal government support, resulting in a virtual “unfunded mandate by omission” to deal with climate at the local level,” the report maintains. “We believe that American businesses should play an active role in helping the public sector determine how best to react to the risks and costs posed by climate change.”

Recently, the Columbia Journalism Review asked, “Has Climate Change become a business story?” It observed that The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times published stories ahead of the report’s release. In addition, leading business publications, including Forbes, Fortune and the International Business Times, ran high-profile articles on their websites the day of the press conference.

Steven Mufson, an energy and finance reporter, wrote about it for The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times’ report ran in its Business section. Long-time National Public Radio economics correspondent John Ydstie covered the news and The New York Times was one of the few that covered the event as a science story.

But I’m looking for a different story – one from the corporations themselves – with business leaders talking about their own climate-risk adaptation stories, perhaps galvanized by this report,

In two weeks during New York City’s Climate Week, ND-GAIN will host an event, What’s New:  Corporations Leading Climate Resilience around the World, where corporate officials will relate their story by unveiling the latest innovations in adaptation.

Come meet the winners of ND-GAIN’s Corporate Adaptation Prize and join them and the judges for a lively discussion addressing food security, water access, health, and infrastructure solutions in the face of a changing global climate.

And, of course, kudos to Risky Business for getting the influencers to shape the biggest change crisis of our time.

 

The Climate Adaptation Gap: How to Create a Climate Adaptation Plan

This article originally appeared in Triple Pundit: The Climate Adaptation Gap: How to Create a Climate Adaptation Plan

Editor’s note: This is the third post in a series on the climate adaptation gap. Stay tuned for future installments here on TriplePundit! In case you missed it, you can read the first post here and the second post here.

Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 10.35.51 PMBy Joyce Coffee

In a previous post, I explained how to determine climate-related risks in your supply chains, capital assets and community engagements. With that knowledge, how do we determine strategies to prepare your most vulnerable assets? It’s likely that a storm will prod corporate risk managers and business-continuity planning managers to take stock and begin instituting telecommuting policies, diversifying their supplier chain to other geographies and advising the small businesses they rely on how to develop a resiliency or adaptation plan.

Here is what it takes to do so:

  1. Start with adaptive actions already in place. Shift your thinking to resiliency from greenhouse gas mitigation, and revel in a new set of actions you can feature and enhance as part of a growing global corporate strategy.
  2. Review local climate-change impact projections.
  3. Identify vulnerabilities relevant to your supply chain, capital assets and community engagements.(extreme heat, extreme precipitation, ecosystem changes, fire, floods, inundation, sea-level rise)
  4. Prepare an economic risk analysis that adds these risks to your financial modeling for risks avoided.

Finally, they must create a short- and medium-term plan that:

  • Sets priorities for adaptations with collateral benefits; e.g., mitigating greenhouse gas emissions (onsite stormwater management), improving employee morale (work-from-home options) or buoying your reputation (shoring up public health systems in one of your supplier hubs).
  • Establishes as priorities adaptations with a collateral improvement to your bottom line and your employees’ quality of life.
  • Includes financials for avoided risks to explain and promote any additional costs not covered by collateral benefits.

Here is a window into how this sort of evaluation works: Perry Yeatman, Principal of Mission Measurement, the global leader in measuring social outcomes, notes that based on her prior work at Kraft Foods, the key to resiliency in the cocoa supply chain involves examining all the vectors impacting farmers. These include demographic shifts, community engagements, diversity of crops and agrarian livelihoods. She contends that it matters to our ample supply of chocolate bars that cocoa farmers are aging, their children are migrating to cities and farmers need to raise chickens to diversify their nutrition among other personal and community pressures that contribute to crop viability.

Businesses new to climate adaptation need only look to peers with their own plans for invaluable resources. They also may find helpful tools from government-backed organizations that understand what climate adaptation looks like and, importantly, how to create an institutional commitment to climate adaptation.

Two that I especially like are: Private Sector Engagement in Adaptation to Climate Change, a report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and Making Cities Resilient:  My City is Getting Ready.

Based on the latter, here is a 10-point quick-guide checklist I developed for making companies resilient:

1. Include climate adaptation in a member of the C-suite’s job description. Establish a cross-function climate-adaptation working group as well as connections with local and regional governments in key geographies in your enterprise, especially operations and supply chain.  Consider collaborating with key members of your supply chain, industry peers and neighboring businesses on climate-adaptation planning and execution. Ensure that all departments understand their role regarding disaster-risk reduction and preparedness.

2. Include budget lines for both proactive adaptation measures and recouping from extreme events.  Include climate adaptation in performance reviews for C-suite members, lieutenants and managers.

3. Incorporate climate adaptation in your initial emergency-preparedness and continuity plans with annual updates.  Ensure that this information and the plans for your corporation’s resilience are readily available to your leadership team and fully discussed with them.

4. Invest in and maintain critical infrastructure that reduces risk, such as flood drainage, snow removal, vector-borne disease prevention and heat mitigation for workers and machinery, adjusted where needed to cope with climate change. Consider supply-chain and building decisions with these risks in mind.

5. Assess the safety of all facilities, especially those in locations vulnerable to extreme weather events (coastal, arid) and upgrade or move.

6. Engage with local governments to ensure that climate-adaptation regulations protect residents and economic growth. Identify your most vulnerable employees (age, income, tasks, geography) and plan especially for their safety.

7. Establish education programs and training on disaster-risk reduction throughout your enterprise, not just for disaster preparedness but also for heat exhaustion, vector-borne disease and the like.

8. Protect and enhance ecosystems and natural buffers in and near your holdings to mitigate floods, storm surges, extreme heat and other hazards.

9. Install early-warning systems and emergency-management capacities in your enterprise and hold regular preparedness drills.

10. After any disaster, ensure the needs of survivors are placed at the center of reconstruction.  Click here for communications guidelines.

Image credit: Making Cities Resilient:  My City is Getting Ready

Read more in the Climate Adaptation Gap series:

  1. Bridging the Climate Adaptation Gap: From Recognition to Action
  2. Bridging the Climate Adaptation Gap: Relative Risks of Geographies in Supply Chains
  3. The Climate Adaptation Gap: How to Create a Climate Adaptation Plan

Joyce Coffee is managing director of the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN). Coffee, who is based in Chicago, serves as the executive lead for related resiliency research, outreach and execution. Stay tuned for the next post in “The Climate Adaptation Gap” series on Tuesday, June 17. The series is taking a deep-dive into the complicated look at supply chain risk assessment.

 

Bridging the Climate Adaptation Gap: From Recognition to Action

This article originally appeared in Triple Pundit http://www.triplepundit.com/2014/05/bridging-climate-adaptation-gap-recognition-action/

Editor’s note: This is the first post in an ongoing biweekly series on the climate adaptation gap. Stay tuned for future installments here on TriplePundit!

Joyce Coffee, Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index Managing Director, opens last year's ND-GAIN Annual Meeting.Joyce Coffee, Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index Managing Director, opens last year’s ND-GAIN Annual Meeting. 

By Joyce Coffee

Recent data indicate that a gap exists between corporations understanding the big-picture risks of climate change and their actions to address those risks to shore up their bottom line.

MIT’s Sloan Management Review published results of the annual sustainability survey they conduct withBCG (aka The Boston Consulting Group). In Harvard Business Review‘s synthesis, they note: “The vast majority of respondents in a new Sloan and BCG survey say climate change isn’t a significant issue … And of the 27 percent that acknowledge climate change is a risk to their businesses, only 9 percent say their companies are prepared for the risk.”

In contrast to this data, another corporate survey—the annual World Economic Forum Global Risk Report–says, this year, four out of the top 10 global risks derived from the World Economic Forum’s global risk perception survey relate to climate disruption:

  • Water Crisis
  • Failure of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
  • Greater Incidence of Extreme Weather Events
  • Food Crisis

These risks share space with other risks such as high unemployment, fiscal crisis and political and social instability.

As the report starts: “To manage global risks effectively and build resilience to their impacts, better efforts are needed to understand, measure and foresee the evolution of interdependencies between risks, supplementing traditional risk-management tools with new concepts designed for uncertain environments.”

The takeaway from WEF’s report: It’s up to all of us to build and refine the proper measurement tools to ensure we are creating business opportunities that offer rewards for humanity in this era of climate risk. A goal will be to pair other notable trends about sustainability progress to lead the way.

So, based on the WEF numbers, if corporations see a risk, but, based on the MIT numbers, they do nothing about it, that gap suggests that businesses are not yet sure how to manage the risk that a changing climate brings to their value chains.

Since climate adaptation relates to the direct impacts on our most important assets—our employees, our customers, our communities and our families–those who advise corporations possess a great opportunity to demonstrate to their clients the significant collateral benefits of a five-step plan of adaptation action. The five steps are outlined briefly here, and will be rolled out in-depth throughout a six-part, biweekly series on Triple Pundit.

  1. Examine the relative risks of geographies in supply chains. Where are your most vulnerable communities and supply chains? What resilience can be built to protect these people and assets?
  2. Identify relevant vulnerabilities in geographies where you maintain significant human and capital assets. Tools like ND Global Adaptation Index can help, plotting countries on a matrix and digging into specific country profiles. When assessing their global risks, corporate leaders can also employ other indices to inform their thinking—from Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, to the major credit-rating agencies’ foreign-currency ratings, and the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report.
  3. Review your business-continuity plans based upon these vulnerabilities and risks, perhaps including an economic risk analysis for the most likely issues. If you are just beginning this assessment, draft up a list of questions based on research surrounding steps one and two. Use this information to inform your business-continuity plan.
  4. List strategies that could be used to prepare your most vulnerable assets. What investment is available and what processes must be taken to secure these assets?
  5. Create a short and medium-term plan that does three things: 1) Starts with adaptive actions you already are taking as part of your business as usual. 2) Sets priorities of adaptations with collateral benefits; e.g., mitigating greenhouse gas emissions (onsite stormwater management), improving employee morale (work from home options) or buoying your reputation (shoring up public health systems in one of your supplier hubs). 3) And, very importantly, includes financials for avoided risks.

Many cities, including TorontoNew York and London publish their adaptation plans, and they are worth a look for inspiration.

Read more in the Climate Adaptation Gap series:

  1. Bridging the Climate Adaptation Gap: From Recognition to Action
  2. Bridging the Climate Adaptation Gap: Relative Risks of Geographies in Supply Chains
  3. The Climate Adaptation Gap: How to Create a Climate Adaptation Plan

Joyce Coffee is managing director of the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN). Coffee, who is based in Chicago, serves as the executive lead for related resiliency research, outreach and execution. Stay tuned for the next post in “The Climate Adaptation Gap” series on Tuesday, May 20. The series will deep-dive into the complicated look at supply chain risk assessment. Next up: “Relative Risks of Geographies in Supply Chains”

Community supply chains: resilience through insurance innovation

Community supply chains:  resilience through insurance innovation At last week’s World Economic Forum in Manila, every presentation I heard mentioned the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan (aka Yolanda). A special session on decision tools for preparing for climate and natural disaster offered the chance for a panel of insurance brokerage executives, a Philippine Senator, a representative from the world’s most engaged foundation on climate resilience and a senior executive at the International Red Cross to develop an innovation – one salient project – to save the world.

Specifically, we looked at ways to avoid a breakdown in community supply chains when a major disruption occurs. This was of special interest to the Senator since after the typhoon, no goods were available for weeks after the storm at the sari sari store, the grocery store or warehouses.  And when the government and development agencies brought in relief materials, this forced out local sellers with goods to sell at legitimate prices. A black market in relief goods emerged, although in a limited way, it turns out.

With this backdrop, we pondered what sort of mechanism could help solve for these issues in future crisis. Here is what we devised: community-based, parametric-triggered insurance. Talk about jargon. WEF participants roared at that winning title – but we surprised them with functional ideas, which envisioned that starting now, in risk-prone communities:

  1. Create a method for community payment into an insurance fund.
  2. Ensure that all members pay in their portion, and price the payment equitably.
  3. Ensure financial contact information for all participants.
  4. Index levels and types of events that could trigger loss.
  5. Pay out to all insurance holders immediately, regardless of proven loss from a disaster.

This idea isn’t brand new. I am aware of drought-triggered parametric insurance for Ethiopian farmers, for instance. But it is novel enough that most of us needed a guide to its distinction from indemnity insurance, which requires proof of harm before payout (a time-consuming process).

A lot of what ifs and issues aren’t addressed here, such as:

  • How to determine the level of storm event.
  • How to collect the insurance payment in cases where community members aren’t bankable.
  • How to ensure that all or most buy in, particularly in more urban areas where the “street-level bureaucracy” of rural communities is weak or non-existent.

Still, I bet this type of mechanism will grow in popularity and positive impact for natural disasters, and put my vote behind it as a resiliency innovation worth supporting.

And since this idea is going to be around for a while, please help us think of a better title with a catch acronym that translates around the world. Fine, OK and Swift come to mind as acronyms I’d be relieved to see in my community if all of my hopes and dreams were wrapped up in my family and rural sari sari store in Tacloban, Philippines, or in any of millions of communities like it around the world.