Getting the word out: the challenge of industry climate communication | Comment

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Sometimes the industry has not helped itself from a reputation standpoint, the most recent example being the response of several insurers to business interruption claims due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was not the best public relations exercise to sell the virtues of the industry, both to governments and to the general public.

COP26: The Daily Insurers Bulletin | Edition 4 – Download here

But the industry’s presence at COP26 represents an important opportunity to highlight the role it can play in helping society adapt to climate change.

Industry is well positioned to provide tools that can change lives. The Insurance Development Forum (IDF), an industry-backed United Nations initiative, launched a series of actions at COP26 aimed at this goal.

Speaking at a panel discussion today, IDF Secretary General Ekhosuehi Iyahen highlighted how one of the most important roles industry can play is to help determine the type of protection that we need to start designing to protect ourselves against some of the potential impacts of climate change.

“The public sector looks to the insurance industry for leadership and support in this direction,” she said.

Through its tripartite partnership with the United Nations Development Program and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the IDF is working on the ground in several countries to provide solutions that build resilience.

One of the initiatives launched by IDF yesterday afternoon was the Global Risk Modeling Alliance, developed by the Oasis Loss Modeling Framework.

“It’s basically about providing technology to developing countries so they can understand the risks,” Oasis CEO Dickie Whitaker said in an interview with The Insurer today.

Oasis is funded and supported by the insurance industry, but many of those who provided funding and support to it have been among those berated for their lack of leadership on climate issues. These include Lloyd’s and Chubb, which received reviews in this week’s Insure our Future dashboard.

“The people who created this scoring system don’t even know the work they’ve done to support us,” Whitaker said.

“There are companies that are doing a lot but this work is not very visible to the outside world and is not recognized.”

As Whitaker points out, initiatives developed through mechanisms like the IDF will change the lives of millions of people but are not reflected in external perceptions of what the industry does.

“Insurance is an extremely important lever to encourage people to adapt,” he said.

There remains a need for the industry to better communicate its efforts in this area. Glasgow’s measure is that the public sector is listening. Many governments recognize the value of insurance mechanisms in enabling the transition to decarbonization and better protecting the most vulnerable.

Understanding this work is essential for establishing a fair and balanced view of the industry’s progress on the climate agenda.


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