Swenja Surminski

Senior Research Fellow

Swenja is a Senior Research Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment|, part of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), as well as a member of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP).

She is Programme Leader for the ‘climate risk, insurance and private sector’ work-stream at the institute, overseeing research projects from a multi-disciplinary field. Her research focuses on climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction with a special interest in the role of the private sector, particularly insurance and public-private partnerships as well as adaptation policy. Swenja is leading the institute’s research under the the EU’s FP7 ENHANCE project, currently conducting an analysis of the London Climate Change Partnership as well as investigating UK flood insurance developments.  She was recently appointed lead author for the business and industry chapter of the UK Climate  Change Risk Assessment. Swenja is the lead academic for a World Bank project on the benefits of Disaster Risk Management (DRM), working with the Overseas Development Institute to explore how the co-benefits of DRM measures can strengthen the economic case for investment. She has published widely and works closely with industry and policy makers at a global level, in a developing country context, across the EU and within the UK.  Prior to joining LSE in 2010  Swenja spent more than ten years in the insurance industry working on climate and risks management, including roles at Munich Re, Marsh Mc Lennon and the Association of British Insurers. Swenja was a Fulbright Scholar in the US, studying Environmental Economics and International Relations at the University of New Hampshire and received a PhD in Political Science from Hamburg University for her work on ‘Climate Change and the Insurance Industry’ in 2000.

Background

From April 2007 until September 2010, Swenja worked for the Association of British Insurers (ABI) as Climate Change Adviser. Her key areas of work were climate impacts, mitigation policies, and the role of insurance in the climate change context.

Swenja coordinated the ABI’s response to the 2007 summer floods in the UK, led several industry research projects on climate change, and sat on various research steering groups, guiding the knowledge exchange between climate scientists and the insurance industry.

Swenja has been a member of the Management Committee of the industry’s ClimateWise initiative, of the European Insurance Industry Climate Change Taskforce (CEA) and of the London Climate Change Partnership Steering Group. She has been advising on climate change risks at UN, EU and UK level and is the author of several papers on these topics.

Prior to taking up her role at the ABI, Swenja was working in the Risk Management division of insurance broker Marsh McLennan and in the Geoscience Team at Munich Re.

Swenja was a Fulbright Scholar in the US, studying Environmental Economics and International Relations at the University of New Hampshire.

Swenja received a PhD in Political Science/Economics from Hamburg University for her work on ‘Climate Change and the Insurance Industry’ in 2000.

Research interest

  • Private sector adaptation
  • The role of multi-national corporations in adaptation’
  • The role of insurance in climate adaptation and mitigation
  • Flood insurance in developed countries, emerging markets and the developing world;
  • The benefits of disaster risk management
flood_uk
Research article  18 November, 2014

Flood insurance in England - An assessment of the current and newly proposed insurance scheme in the context of rising flood risk

By applying our analytical framework we find an absence of formal incentive mechanisms for risk reduction in the existing and proposed Flood Re scheme. We identify the barriers for applying insurance to risk reduction and point to some possible modifications in the Flood Re proposal to deliver a greater link between risk transfer and risk reduction. read more »

Working paper  5 November, 2014

Taking an organisational approach to private sector adaptation – the case of Tata Teleservices in India

A growing paradigm of ‘engaging the private sector’ is noticeable in all areas of climate risk management and adaptation. However, there is limited empirical investigation into what action companies are … read more »

Working paper  4 August, 2014

Reflection on the current debate on how to link flood insurance and disaster risk reduction in the European Union

Reflection on the current debate on how to link flood insurance and disaster risk reduction in the European Union read more »

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Research article  4 August, 2014

Concept of loss and damage of climate change – a new challenge for climate decision-making? A climate science perspective

This paper reviews the implications of Loss and Damage L&D for decision-making with a special focus on the role of climate science. read more »

hurricane
Research article  26 March, 2014

Managing unnatural disaster risk from climate extremes

Mechler, R. Bouwer, R.M., Linnerooth-Bayer, J.,  Hochrainer-Stigler, S., Aerts, J.C.J.H., Surminski, S., Williges, K. (2014): Managing unnatural disaster risk from climate extremes. Nature Climate Change  4, 235–237 (2014) External link to … read more »

Research article  23 January, 2014

Policy indexes as tools for decision makers - the case of climate policy

The last two decades have witnessed an explosion in the publication of country indexes that measure and rank the relative national policy performances of governments. To illustrate the challenges … read more »

Working paper  1 January, 2014

Flood insurance in England - an assessment of the current and newly proposed insurance scheme in the context of rising flood risk

Flooding is the largest natural disaster risk in England and it is expected to rise even further as we experience a changing climate and continue putting … read more »

2013

Working paper  1 December, 2013

Observations on the role of the private sector in the UNFCCC's loss and damage of climate change work programme

Private sector engagement, particularly in relation to public policy based action and strategy, has become a buzz word in most policy areas, but this is often … read more »

Research article  21 October, 2013

Private-sector adaptation to climate risk

Reference Surminski, S. October 2013. Private-sector adaptation to climate risk. Nature Climate Change, v.3, pp.943-945.  

Research article  21 October, 2013

Flood insurance schemes and climate adaptation in developing countries

Risk transfer, including insurance, is widely recognized as a tool for increasing financial resilience to severe weather events such as floods. The application of this mechanism varies widely across … read more »

Working paper  1 July, 2013

Do flood insurance schemes in developing countries provide incentives to reduce physical risks?

Risk transfer, including insurance, is widely recognised as a tool for increasing financial resilience to severe weather events, such as floods. The application of this mechanism … read more »

Research article  21 March, 2013

Flutversicherung – Wie der Staat und die Versicherer zusammenkommen können

Reference Suminski, S. 2014. Flutversicherung – Wie der Staat und die Versicherer zusammenkommen können, Zeitschrift fuer das Versicherungswesen ZfV 04/2014.

Research article  21 March, 2013

A preliminary assessment of the impact of climate change on non-life insurance demand in the BRICS economies

Over the past decade, the increase in insurance demand in the BRICS has been a key driver of global non-life premium growth. Current forecasts suggest that these markets will … read more »

2012

Working paper  1 September, 2012

The roles of public and private actors in the governance of adaptation: the case of agricultural insurance in India

Climate change adaptation is an increasingly important field and will involve a range of actors from national governments to private companies, communities and households. There is … read more »

Working paper  1 September, 2012

Policy indexes – what do they tell us and what are their applications? The case of climate policy and business planning in emerging markets

The last two decades have witnessed an explosion in the publication of country indexes that measure and rank the relative policy performances of governments. Whilst there … read more »

2011

Working paper  1 September, 2011

A preliminary assessment of the impact of climate change on non-life insurance demand in the BRICS economies

Over the past decade, growth in insurance demand in the BRICS economies has been a key driver of global non-life premium growth. Current forecasts suggest that … read more »

More in research publications

2013

FloodDepthMarker
Policy report  14 November, 2013

Flood insurance and the Water Bill

Through the Water Bill, the Government is seeking powers to establish a new scheme for the provision of flood insurance. The proposed scheme, Flood Re, offers … read more »

Policy paper  1 August, 2013

Response to public consultation on ‘Securing the future availability and affordability of home insurance in areas of flood risk’

of key points Flooding is the biggest natural disaster risk in England. Flood risk is expected to increase due to climate change and continued development of floodplains for residential … read more »

Policy paper  1 July, 2013

Response to European Commission's green paper on the insurance of natural and man-made disasters

of key points Insurance is one tool amongst others in a holistic natural disaster risk management strategy. Risk transfer alone, without consideration of risk reduction efforts, is not a … read more »

african-boys
Policy paper  1 April, 2013

Disaster resilience and post-2015 development goals: the options for economics targets and indicators

In 2015, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire. Detailed discussions are already underway to inform the post-2015 development goals. This paper seeks to inform discussions around appropriate economics … read more »

2012

Policy paper  1 June, 2012

Climate change, vulnerability and human mobility: perspectives of refugees from the East and Horn of Africa

UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the United Nations University for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS). June 2012. Report no. 1. Surminski, S. June 2012. Future Risk: climate change and energy … read more »

Policy paper  10 May, 2012

Expert meeting on assessing the risk of loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change

Surminski, S., Lopez, A., et al. March 2012. Current knowledge on relevant methodologies and data requirements, as well as lessons learned and gaps identified at different levels, in assessing the … read more »

2011

Policy paper  1 June, 2011

Open questions about how to address 'loss and damage' from climate change in the most vulnerable countries: a response to the Cancún Adaptation Framework

Extreme weather events represent the earliest, and in some places most significant, threats to the most vulnerable countries that are driven by climate change. An outcome of the 16th session … read more »

More in policy publications


Commentary  14 February, 2014

Managing flood risk: Why flood insurance needs to send the right signals

Anticipatory action and preparedness is much more economic than providing disaster aid. However, there have recently been many missed opportunities to put sensible long-term risk management in response to climate … read more »

2012

Commentary  18 July, 2012

Climate change in India: what role for insurance and the private sector?

LSE’s research staff argue that the commercial viability of crop insurance must be considered before private insurance companies can play an effective role in climate change adaptation. read more »

Commentary  26 January, 2012

Extreme measures

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