|the international society of CATASTROPHE managers|
This year’s September ISCM conference in Zurich was entitled “Climate change – a key driver in catastrophe risk management, or one factor amongst many?”. The topic of climate change is hardly new to the insurance industry and has ranked as a risk concern for years. But in spring 2019, when we settled for the conference theme, no one would have anticipated the tremendous interest and broad media coverage this topic would receive by autumn. Just on the day before our conference for instance, climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed the assembled world leaders at United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York.
It thus came as no surprise that our conference in Zurich met with overwhelming interest from ISCM members. In fact, for the first time ever we could not admit a few late-comers anymore, as we had reached full capacity of the conference room. This year’s hosting company was Axis Capital, which did a tremendous job in welcoming and accommodating the more than 80 participants as well as the speakers on its Zurich premises.
The afternoon was kicked off with a welcome address by Steve Arora, CEO Axis Reinsurance, followed by a conference overview from Peter Zimmerli, Cat Risk Manager at Axis Capital and ISCM board member. The programme put together by the organization committee in Zurich aimed at providing a view of current and potential future impacts of climate change from various different angles. Professor Stefan Broennimann, Head of Climatology at the University of Berne and Co-Author of the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2014, summarized the current scientific consensus view. He was followed by Jane Toothill, Director of JBA Risk Management, who showed an approach in climate impact quantification by using flood models and shared insights from the climate-related regulatory framework in the UK. After that, Annemarie Buettner and Mathias Graf from Zurich Insurance showed a web portal they developed, allowing corporate insurance clients to assess potential climate change impacts for their specific exposure footprint.
After a coffee break, Michael Rueegger, Deputy Chief Underwriting Officer for Agriculture at SCOR, provided interesting insights into the challenged faced in this particular line of business, and by an underwriter more generally. Then Thierry Corti, Head of Sustainability Management at Swiss Re gave an example of how a company looks at climate change from a broader overall risk management perspective. As the last speaker, Stefan Gross, Specialist on Sustainable Finance at the Swiss regulator FINMA, shared his view on current considerations and possible developments on the regulatory side. After the individual presentations, Amaryllis Mouyiannou, Senior Cat Modelling Analyst at Axis Capital, invited the speakers to a panel session with strong audience interaction.
After a few closing remarks, many participants stayed around for the snacks & drinks reception offered in the entry hall of the Axis building. A great way to catch up with colleagues and an opportunity to continue discussions around how climate change may impact cat managers daily tasks and our industry more broadly.
A great “Thank you” goes to our speakers and their commitment to support our event. Equally, we thank this year’s host Axis Capital for offering us the use of their premises, impeccably mastering event organization logistics and providing catering services. And last but certainly not least: the event would not have been possible without a truly fantastic ISCM Zurich organisation team.