Setting the InsuResilience Global Partnership’s strategic course in challenging times – the High-Level Consultative Group’s response

On 15 September 2020, the High-Level Consultative Group (HLCG) of the InsuResilience Global Partnership came together for the third time to assess the progress of the Partnership made over the last year and to discuss the Partnership’s strategic direction in view of the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since its inception in 2017, the directive of the InsuResilience Global Partnership has been to strengthen the resilience of climate vulnerable developing countries and to prevent poor and vulnerable people from falling into further poverty. Parliamentary State Secretary Maria Flachsbarth, Germany, Co-Chair of the HLCG, emphasized that: “Hard-fought development gains are being undermined or reversed by climate risks, and the current pandemic further increases vulnerable communities’ hardship, creating compounded risks. We are using these challenging times to turn challenges into solutions and to see the challenges as a chance for further strengthening our Partnership. Our Partnership has grown to 85 members in a short time. Across the globe, we can find examples of the positive impacts of our programs. 26 programs in climate risk finance and insurance are already operating in 78 countries.” Risk finance not only strengthens countries’ financial resilience, but also supports cost-effective decision-making on governmental investments to build resilience in the context of climate change.

The Covid-19 pandemic has induced a global shift in thinking and revealed the need for more preemptive actions, especially against compounded risks. As a result, the Partnership recognizes the importance to maintain its focus on addressing climate and disaster related risks but with a renewed look, specifically when pandemic risks are concurring with climate risks. Minister Alfred Alfred Jr., Republic of the Marshall Islands and Co-Chair of the HCLG stated: “COVID-19 has shown how exposed our economies are to extreme external shocks. Hard fought development gains are being undermined or reversed by the pandemic.  We must start building resilience now as the frequency and intensity of climate-induced disasters grows worse over time and will make us even more vulnerable. If we fail to mobilize investment in preparedness and resilience, we leave hundreds of millions of people and our economies in extreme danger.”

Prof Fekadu Beyene, Commissioner of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of Ethiopia, re-emphasized the need for urgent support and adaptation to further risks by introducing the Covid-19 issue in Ethiopia, one of the V20 countries. The InsuResilience paper ‘Protecting the poor and vulnerable in COVID-19 crisis and beyond’, adopted at the meeting, provides the case to why it is necessary to adopt a broader view and provides suggestions on how the Partnership can be instrumental in addressing this topic within its current mandate.

According to Minister Lucien Fanomezantsoa Ranarivelo, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Madagascar, the pandemic had a direct effect on agriculture in his country: “At the level of the farmers, the prices of local produce is decreasing, while the prices of agricultural inputs and materials are increasing, impacting on the income of the producers. Produce cannot be sold in the other regions due to travel restrictions. With a severe drought having hit Madagascar at the end of 2019, people were already suffering from climate catastrophes, and now they are also facing the impacts of the pandemic: In the South especially, people who were depending on migrating to other regions to provide for their families in the dry season, were not able to do so with the containment measures. In some particularly remote areas, seeds were consumed as food by the population was in shortage due to poor harvest.”

The HLCG discussed a Policy Note on ‘Integrating Disaster Risk Finance into National Resilience and Adaptation Efforts’ that highlights the continuous need to support countries in the enhancement of their resilience efforts and accompanying investments. The document examines how risk financing considerations can enhance resilience efforts of vulnerable countries when integrated into national adaptation planning and investment processes.

The HLCG also adopted the Declaration on Gender recognizing the importance of integrating gender-responsiveness within the Climate and Disaster Risk Finance and Insurance (CDRFI) Framework for delivering on the Partnership’s vision. In speaking to the Declaration that was developed by the gender working group co-chaired by Canada, HLCG member and Canada’s climate ambassador Patricia Fuller emphasized that the purpose of the document is to signal to the international community that members of the Partnership intend to prioritize the gender dimensions within their respective areas of work. The Declaration on Gender is an aspirational document that will guide the actions of members in pursuing gender responsive approaches to their work and paves the way towards tangible action.

The strategic adjustments in terms of systemic risks as well as the mandate to further support gender responsiveness allow the Partnership to better reach the goals of its Vision 2025 and build resilience in an ongoing cooperation with the V20.

HLCG members represent various stakeholder groups[1]. As platform encouraging exchange among members, the HLCG strives to achieve a balance of representation from the Global South and Global North. Additionally, it aims to encourage seminal dialogues between the public and private sector. Together, members work to help countries better prepare for climate-induced disasters and build resilience in the face of climate and disaster risks.

[1] See members of InsuResilience Global Partnership: https://www.insuresilience.org/members-partners/