Swiss Re, Veolia Unveil Initiative to Speed Recovery After Cat Event

February 9, 2016

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions Ltd. and Veolia have joined forces, under the auspices of The Rockefeller Foundation, to launch an infrastructure recovery initiative to speed up economic recovery in the aftermath of catastrophic events for cities across the globe.

The partnership, designed to support cities worldwide in the areas of climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, infrastructure enhancement and recovery, was announced in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum, by Swiss Re Corporate Solutions CEO, Agostino Galvagni; Antoine Frérot, chairman and CEO of Veolia, and Rockefeller Foundation president, Dr. Judith Rodin.

The current reality is that cities rarely have financial plans in place to protect critical assets against shocks before they occur, and in the aftermath of such events, cities must determine what is damaged, how it will be fixed, who can fix it and how to fund these repairs, which can take months or years, said a statement issued by the three organizations.

This initiative is designed “to dramatically improve and streamline the existing process,” the statement said.
Under the partnership agreement, Swiss Re and Veolia, which is a resource management company with expertise in water, energy and waste systems, will work with cities to understand the risk exposure of critical assets under current and future climate scenarios.

Under this agreement, both partners will perform risk assessments of cities, identify their most vulnerable and valuable assets, and work together to build resilience strategies around these assets, the organizations said, noting that these assessments could help cities develop resilience plans while reducing their risk exposure over time, the statement said.

Swiss Re and Veolia said they will work to develop a pilot for the initiative in a city, such as New Orleans, which could focus on some of the city’s infrastructure, including critical water and wastewater systems.

By planning ahead for major shocks and stresses, cities not only strengthen the resistance of their vital infrastructure, they can also limit economic interruption and begin to quickly repair damage without waiting for insurance assessments, payouts, and solicitations for repair proposals, the statement continued.

The partnership was brokered by 100 Resilient Cities (100RC), a Rockefeller Foundation funded initiative, aimed at helping cities better understand the susceptibility of their critical infrastructure to disaster risk, provide the resources to better protect this infrastructure, and enable these assets to be more quickly functional following a disaster.

“When we joined the 100 Resilient Cities project as one of its founding partners in 2013, part of the commitment was to create a functional toolbox for cities to assess, price, prepare for and mitigate risks. Our partnership with Veolia brings us one step closer to fulfilling that vision, and we’re convinced that if we can make it a success, the concept can be scaled and replicated for other cities, and for other services. It’s an important step in moving resilience from talk to action,” said Agostino Galvagni, CEO Swiss Re Corporate Solutions.

“We support the initiative as we hope our expertise in risk management is central to building cities that are more resilient by helping them to identify, quantify, prioritize and ultimately transfer this risk away from their citizens and into the private market,” said a Swiss Re spokesperson.

“This partnership is a sign that the private sector better understands what cities need to build resilience, and cities will no longer have to make difficult and often inefficient decisions after experiencing a disaster. They will know what is at risk, how it needs to improve, who will fix it, and where the funds will come from, all which allows them to rebound more quickly,” said Michael Berkowitz, president of 100 Resilient Cities. “Hopefully, this is the just the beginning, and when other market leaders recognize the importance of what Swiss Re and Veolia are doing, they too will begin to really innovate.”

“Our partnership with Swiss Re embodies the fact that resilience goes much beyond risk prevention and recovery in case of natural disaster, said Antoine Frérot, chairman and CEO of Veolia. “We are strongly convinced that resilience reinforces cities’ attractiveness and represents a competitive advantage for cities.”

“Through the combination of their expertise, this initiative will help cities identify both vulnerabilities and opportunities, and pave the way for enhanced resilience. Investments in resilience-building ensure that the very fabric of our communities remains strong, in good times and bad,” said Dr. Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation.

About Veolia and The Rockefeller Foundation

Veolia designs and provides water, waste and energy management solutions that contribute to the sustainable development of communities and industries. With more than 179,000 employees worldwide, the group helps to develop access to resources, preserve available resources, and to replenish them.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission for more than 100 years has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. The foundation works at the intersection of four focus areas – advance health, revalue ecosystems, secure livelihoods, and transform cities  — to address the root causes of emerging challenges and create systemic change.


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