Applying subjective approaches to the innovative analysis of a difficult question

In 2015 the G7 leaders launched the InsuResilience initiative, with a unique mandate to extend climate insurance to 400 million highly exposed, uninsured poor and vulnerable people by 2020. This is an increasingly relevant aim, as climate change is exacerbating the existing weather-related disaster risks in low middle income countries, and typically less than 1% of the losses due to natural catastrophes in such countries are covered by insurance.

Whilst some studies suggest that insurance programmes can improve the financial outcomes and productivity choices of those insured, the evidence is sparse and the risk remains that insurance could actually decrease resilience where it is poorly designed and/or misunderstood by the policy holders.

From summer 2017-2020, the ERICI project at the Grantham Research Institute will work alongside the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative (MCII) and in contact with the G7’s InsuResilience to develop demand-led resilience metrics that can be used for evaluation of insurance schemes. An important part of this work will be focusing on the added value of subjective approaches to resilience assessment, alongside the more traditional objective measures. We are specifically interested in the added value that subjective measures of resilience can bring to our existing understanding of resilience, its relationship to well-being, and our ability to monitor changes in resilience in response to insurance interventions at the micro-level.  These metrics will be developed through and applied in practical settings through longitudinal cohort studies of communities in one African and one Asian country. The project offers a truly interdisciplinary approach, exploring how insurance products can improve climate resilience, defined as ‘making people, communities and systems better prepared to withstand catastrophic events (both natural and manmade) and able to bounce back more quickly and emerge stronger from these shocks and stresses’ (Rockefeller Foundation, 2016). To do this we combine the Grantham Research Institute’s academic expertise in insurance (Swenja Surminski), and  psychology & resilience measurement (Abbie Clare) with the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative’s policy perspective and extensive climate insurance stakeholder networks. The outcomes will include academic journal papers, policy briefs, the publication of an insurance-specific resilience assessment metric, and workshops for interested stakeholders to initially shape and subsequently learn from our work.

This project is funded through the ‘LSE’s IGA-Rockefeller Research and Impact Fund’.

Swenja Surminski and Architesh Panda launch insurance resilience fieldwork with local partner WOTR in Pune, India, for the ERICI project, investigating farmers‘ experience with insurance and climate resilience. Swenja also chairs a session on climate finance at WOTR’s international workshop on adapting agriculture – #WOTRresilientagriculture on 3rd October.

Swenja Surminski

Swenja is Head of Adaptation Research at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, part of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). 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. The geographic scope of her works spans from the United Kingdom across the European Union to developing countries.

Architesh Panda

Post-doctoral researcher Architesh Panda has joined the research team in 2018 and is leading the India case study for this project. Prior to Joining LSE, he has worked as a post-doctoral fellow with International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) based in Lao PDR. He has also worked for IRRI in the South and South-East Asia.

Abbie Clare

Abbie was a post-doctoral researcher at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, part of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). She has a background in sustainable development, psychology and climate resilience metric development, and conducts applied research in rural communities around the world.

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