Ban Ki Moon urges the Insurance Industry to lead the shaping of a Sustainable Future: A Recap

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Last week, the United Nations’s Secretary General - Ban Ki-Moon, welcomed over 200 insurance representatives at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York for the 17-June UN Insurance Forum. During his inspiring speech, Ban Ki-Moon remarked that this was the first time that a UN Secretary General has ever met a congregation of global insurance leaders. He stressed that this was by no means a chance encounter and called upon the insurance industry to play a strong role in the quest for a more sustainable post-2015 world. He stressed that insurers should invest wisely into sustainable projects and support the public in insuring the urgent pressing risks from climate change. He pointed out that the importance of risk management expertise of insurers to make the upcoming United Nations Sustainable Development Goals truly risk-informed. The Secretary-General acknowledged that the United Nations in coordination with governments should provide a clear framework for the insurance industry, so that it can excel in its important role as a powerful risk management tool.

Ban Ki-Moons’s call to create effective, sustainable public-private partnerships on insurance and risk management was reiterated by a range of other speakers during the day. A lot of interesting work has already been accomplished in this respect, with the strong insurance focus of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction from March 2015 serving as a key milestone. Butch Bacani from United Nations Environment Programme Financial Initiative (UNEP FI) alluded to an upcoming insurance forum. The nascent Insurance Development Forum, co-hosted by UNDP, was briefly introduced as well. Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven of the German government added that the G7 is planning to convene an insurance advisory board to inform the way forward from the bold insurance goals proclaimed at the recent G7 summit.

As a micro-insurance practitioner and novice to the macro-world of insurance, I would have liked for the gathering to spend a little more time piecing together how the different initiatives would fit together to add value to our everyday work.

I also had the chance to add to the debate on how to better protect the world’s poor in a special panel on microinsurance. My fellow panelists did a fantastic job in setting the stage.  

Joan Lamm-Tennant, designated CEO of the much talked-about Micro-Insurance Venture Incubator announced the rebranding of the same into Blue Marble Microinsurance. The incubator is backed by nine private insurance players and gives hope for further innovation in microinsurance. Shawn Cole of Harvard University kept us in check by urging us not to overstate the poverty alleviation effect of micro-insurance. He noted that the scientific evidence is still too weak for such general claim. Craig Churchill from the ILO’s Impact Insurance Facility pointed at the rich body of well documented lessons learned on micro-insurance. His facility has already published over 60 papers on the topic.

During my presentation I encouraged insurance players to ‘Just do it’!  To dare to get engaged in the low-income market because profitability has already been proven in many instances and the business model is mature enough to take matters to the next level.

I finally promoted the micro-insurance brown bag lunch and insurance FINDEX event at the World Bank Group on 9-July. This will be a concrete opportunity for the public and private sector to connect and collaborate in bringing insurance to the FINDEX program.

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