The Global Risk and Resilience Fellowship

A unique fellowship program that connects insurance professionals with city senior leadership to develop resilience-building risk transfer solutions

The Challenge

Across the globe, climate change is having a huge impact on the lives of millions of people. Cities are home to half of the world’s population and they are incredibly vulnerable to climate change. High temperatures, sea level rises and extreme weather are all felt acutely in urban areas. In the face of mounting shocks and stresses, cities face the enormous and urgent task of adapting to a more volatile world.

The insurance industry has a huge role to play in smoothing out volatility and building resilience. It is well established that insurance can pick up the pieces when things go wrong; but we are just scratching the surface of its ability to unlock and accelerate the development of technology and infrastructure projects that cities need to implement in order to adapt to the kinds of resilience challenges they will face as global temperatures continue to rise.

Objective

Resilient Cities Network has partnered with international insurance broker, Howden, and other insurance members of the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI) Insurance Task Force (SMI ITF) to create a joint fellowship program. The objective of which is to help protect member cities and vulnerable communities against mounting climate-related shocks and stresses.

The program centers on the secondment of qualified insurance practitioners from Howden and other insurance organisations (the fellows) into cities for a suggested period of three to six months. All the fellows are of suitable seniority and have the skills and experience required to identify opportunities for innovative insurance solutions to facilitate risk transfer thereby mitigating climate-related risks and vulnerabilities.

The selected cities will benefit from hands-on, solutions-focused risk consultancy focused on building long-term holistic and equitable resilience and reducing city’s vulnerabilities. With a deeper understanding of the impact of a warming world on cities, the insurance market will be better equipped to innovate and evolve to effectively respond to new risks and develop solutions that remove barriers to resilience-building investments.

Process

In late 2022 R-Cities and Howden launched an open call inviting cities worldwide to submit letters of interest for inclusion in the first cohort of fellows who will be placed in Q1 2023. The fellowship program will grow year on year, with the aim of expanding the program to 20 cities over a three-to-five-year period.

Once cities are selected, they will be included in the programmatic design of the secondment and be assigned a fellow. Each fellow will be matched with a city, where they will be placed for a suggested period of three-to-six months. During this time the fellow will work with the city’s resilience team to develop risk transfer solutions that address local resilience challenges.

Knowledge Share

Through collaboration with the SMI ITF, and planned associations with educational institutions, the fellow will have access to draw on a broad and deep network of knowledge and expertise. Additionally, the fellowship will be an open source of information within R-Cities. Built into the program will be knowledge and experience-sharing events where lessons, solutions and strategies from selected cities can be exchanged.

Frequently asked questions

Selection of the cities

What will the city selection process be for the fellowship?

Selecting cities is a multi-step process that firstly, involves all organizers (R-Cities, Howden, and other insurance groups), and secondly, depends on the capacities and interest of the city offices and matching each city’s profile with suitable insurance expertise. The first stage will be an Open Call application. Following this, the key stakeholders in Howden, Resilient Cities Network and each city office will have a call to discuss the requirements of the city and focus of its resilience strategy. Cities that already have a resilience strategy and team in place and are able to promote a seamless integration of the fellow and will be prioritized in the allocation of fellows.

What happens after the cities are selected?

Once the cities are selected, R-Cities and Howden will identify fellows – these will be insurance experts who have an appropriate skillset for each selected city. Each fellow will have deep knowledge of the context of the city in which they will be seconded and the resilience risks it faces. The details (e.g., duration, timing, objectives) of the placement will be finalized after the cities have been selected as they will be agreed in conjunction with each of the selected city offices.

Does Howden/other insurance organizations need to sign specific agreements with each city?

Because this is a partnership, we will come to a three-way agreement that satisfies the needs of all parties involved. However, we will eventually need a signed letter of acknowledgement from city mayors/leaders.

Structure of the Fellowship

What are the hosting and support conditions that are required by the city offices?

This is to be determined on a case-by-case basis. There will be detailed discussions and programmatic development before the cohort begins. We anticipate most fellows will be physically located in the city offices, which we recommend to maximize interaction and communication over the three-to-six-month program. However, as with many fellowship programs there may be versions where they sit outside the office.

Can fellows be placed in a municipal department of the city rather than the city leader/mayoral offices or the Resilience Office?

Each placement will be unique to the city context, however, one of the main objectives of the fellowship is to support the CROs and their team to advance their existing and planned resilience work on behalf of the city. Where and how fellows work will vary from city-to-city. We will share learnings from the structure of each fellow with the network, as part of a broader program of knowledge sharing from the fellowship.

What do the resilience fellows do?

The focus of each fellow will be collaboratively determined by the requirements of the city and agreed at the outset of the secondment. We recommend a role that enables the fellow to maximize interaction and communication over the three-to-six-month program, as this will enable them to best understand the urban issues currently being faced in their cities, and to support the CRO and their team to create insurance-based strategies that help address said issues.

Who is handling the expenses of the fellows?

All expenses of the fellows are paid for by the insurance organization that they are employed by.

How long is the fellowship placement?

Fellows will be placed within their selected cities for a total of three-to-six months.

Will all fellows be Howden professionals?

The first three fellows to be seconded in Q1 2023 will be Howden professionals. However, in following years we expect to include fellows from different insurance organizations.

How does Resilient Cities Network envision the process between selecting three fellows and scaling up to 20 within three-to-five years?

We expect the first three fellows to be placed in Q1 2023. These early-placed fellows will help organizers evaluate and measure programmatic lessons, to be applied moving forward. In following years, we expect to increase the number of fellows per year, but the expansion process will heavily depend on what works for cities within the network.

How will impact of the fellows be measured?

At the outset of the fellowship, city offices, Howden and R-Cities will agree on objectives for the fellow. These will be based on the cities’ short and long-term resilience objectives. The achievement of these objectives, as well as a broader qualitative review at the end of each secondment, will be used to determine the impact of each fellow.

Background and overarching objectives of the Fellowship

How can insurance support cities to be more resilient?

It is well understood that insurance can pick up the pieces when things go wrong, with parametric policies increasingly being used to address emerging climate-related risk, such as droughts, floods and extreme weather. However, we are just scratching the surface on how risk transfer solutions can unlock and accelerate the development of the technology and infrastructure projects that cities need to implement in order to adapt to the kinds of resilience challenges they will face as global temperatures continue to rise.

Why should cities apply to the fellowship?

In the face of mounting shocks and stresses, cities face the enormous and urgent task of adapting to a more volatile world. The insurance industry has a huge role to play in smoothing out this volatility and building resilience.

What is the benefit of getting a fellow?

Each fellow will be an insurance practitioner who has deep knowledge of the context of the city in which they will be seconded and the resilience risks it faces. The fellows’ combined skill-set and regional know-how will enable them to dive into the urban issues currently being faced in their cities and create insurance-based strategies that help address said issues. In addition, fellows will be part of a growing network of resilience insurance professionals created by this fellowship program and they will have access to solutions and strategies being tried elsewhere.

What happens after the fellowship ends?

Aligned to the mission and practice of R-Cities, part of the impact of the fellowship program is to share knowledge and experience between cities that are facing similar resilience issues, and to take note of different insurance solutions. This could take the form of a workshop, conference or other similar event, with the information to be integrated into city resilience strategies moving forward, whether the cities were part of the fellowship program or not.

What does success look like for the Global Risk and Resilience Fellowship?

Success involves equipping cities with a greater variety of tools to tackle mounting shocks and stresses. The fellowship aims to enable city officials to understand how they can best employ insurance and risk transfer to smooth out volatility and build resilience. It also seeks to provide the insurance market with a deeper understanding of the impact of a warming world on cities, better equipping it to innovate and evolve to effectively respond to new risks and to develop solutions that remove barriers to resilience-building investments.

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