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UN chief urges insurance industry to take leadership in climate change response

Editor: Chen Yue 丨Xinhua

04-20-2016 11:39 BJT

Full coverage: Paris Climate Agreement

UNITED NATIONS, April 13 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday urged the insurance industry to take leadership in the international efforts to deal with climate change, saying that the sector is a key actor in forging new instruments to anticipate and manage climate risks.

While speaking at a high-level meeting with insurance industry leaders and other stakeholders at the UN Headquarters in New York, Ban also urged the industry to continue to work with the United Nations to manage and reduce such risks and ultimately ensure a more sustainable world for all.

"The world needs your leadership to meet the climate challenge," Ban said.

In emphasizing that the "impacts of climate change will affect every aspect of our lives," he said that the insurance industry played a key role at the Climate Summit he hosted in 2014 and was instrumental in mobilizing momentum for the Paris Agreement in December 2015.

Climate change "profoundly affects" the core business of the insurance industry because the industry will be faced with "mounting claims of a magnitude not yet seen" and also because the industry's investment decisions can give rise to unexpected risks, he said.

"Conversely, if you invest wisely, you could reap new rewards -- for both your own businesses and society at large," the UN chief said.

Ban recalled the "Anticipate, Absorb, and Reshape" multi-stakeholder global initiative he launched last year to increase climate resilience. He stressed the importance of better anticipating and acting on climate hazards through early warning and early action, as well as reshaping development to reduce risks at both national and international levels.

The initiative, referred to as "A2R," launched in November 2015 by the secretary-general and 13 agencies of the UN system, aims to strengthen the ability of countries to anticipate hazards, absorb shocks, and reshape development to reduce climate risks.

Among the actions that the insurance industry should take include greening its investment portfolios and measuring its carbon footprint by 2020. In addition, the industry should "decarbonize" its investments so as not to contribute to rising greenhouse emissions, the secretary-general said.

Ban also challenged the industry to double investments in clean energy and work with the UN to ensure that early warning and early actions are made available to the most vulnerable countries by 2020, since more than one million people have already lost their lives to disasters in this century.

Ban also said that the world's most vulnerable people should be provided with greater access to risk transfer mechanisms.

"The poorest and most vulnerable people -- those who have done least to cause climate change -- need support to reduce their exposure to climate impacts," he said.

The secretary-general also challenged the insurance industry to develop auditable standards in the industry that incorporate the Sustainable Development Goals.

"It is no longer sufficient to work on voluntary principles and guidelines that do not affect vital decisions," he said. "It is no longer sufficient to think that human development is the responsibility of governments alone. We thought the same about climate change for years. We were wrong."

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