Ekhosuehi Iyahen is the secretary general of the Insurance Development Forum, a public-private partnership led by the insurance industry and supported by the World Bank and UN, aiming to enhance the use of insurance to build greater resilience against disasters and to help achieve the UN 2030 Agenda. With extensive experience developing risk insurance pools for sovereigns, she also serves as an advisor to a number of institutions on catastrophe/climate risk and loss and damage and the role of insurance.
Bambang Susantono provides strategic leadership to ADB’s knowledge and research agenda. Prior to this, Mr. Susantono was the acting minister and vice-minister of transportation of Indonesia, and deputy minister for infrastructure and regional development in Indonesia's Office of Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs. He holds a PhD in infrastructure planning, master’s degrees in transportation engineering, and city and regional planning from the University of California in Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Bandung Institute of Technology.
Hongjoo Hahm joined ESCAP in January 2016 as the deputy executive secretary for programmes. He served as acting executive secretary from May to December 2018. Before this, he worked at the World Bank, ADB, the Korea Development Institute, and taught economics at New York University, Queens College, and the City University of New York. He received his MPhil from the London School of Economics and PhD from New York University. He has an executive MBA from Harvard Business School and a diploma from the Cambridge University Programme for Sustainable Development. He also graduated from Korea’s Third Military Academy and was commissioned as an officer in the Korean Army.
Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is the Fijian attorney-general and minister for economy. He has spearheaded a broad program of economic reform to modernize the Fijian economy, which has decreased the tax burden faced by ordinary people, plugged financial leakages, supported a national minimum wage, incentivized development, and spurred job creation. These reforms, coupled with several constitutional and legal reforms, have produced the longest streak of uninterrupted economic growth in Fijian history, funding a massive expansion in access to infrastructure and essential services for the Fijian people.
Sarah-Jane Wild is the head of operations for the Pacific for Tower Insurance and prior to that was the general manager of Tower Insurance in Fiji. Ms. Wild has over 20 years of industry experience, transferring to Fiji from Tower NZ where she held the head of claims role within Tower. Ms. Wild is a board director for the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Insurance Company and is the deputy chairperson of the Accident Compensation Commission in Fiji and vice president of the Women in Business. She holds a diploma in financial services through the Australia and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance.
Moderator and Chair
Simon Young has a background in earth sciences and a PhD in volcanology. He was a chief scientist and then the first director of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. Mr. Young works as a disaster/climate risk management and financing consultant, having involvement in all three of the multi-country parametric insurance risk pools currently in existence. Mr. Young is currently a strategic advisor to Willis Towers Watson’s Capital, Science & Policy Practice, where he leads innovation in financing instruments for resilience.
With over 160 attendees, including senior representatives from international organizations and ADB member countries, the seminar highlighted the high levels of vulnerability to natural disasters and climate risks within the Asia and Pacific region and the need for greater innovation and partnerships to accelerate financing for disaster risk management and climate resilience. Some reflections included:
- Disaster risks are outpacing disaster resilience in Asia and the Pacific. More than four in five people (84%) affected by natural hazards live in developing Asia. The region also accounts for 55% of the global disaster death toll and 26% of global damages between 2000 and 2018.
- The rate of economic losses has outpaced the growth of insured losses, with individuals, corporations, and governments bearing the brunt of the impact. Over the past 20 years, less than 5% of economic losses in developing Asia were insured, compared to 40% in developed countries.
- Disaster risk financing, including insurance, can help countries ensure that their economies and populations are financially protected in the event of a disaster. Research demonstrates that a 1% increase in insurance penetration can reduce the disaster recovery burden on taxpayers by 22%.
- However, the deployment of the insurance industry’s risk management capabilities and general access to commercial insurance against disasters remains limited and unevenly distributed across the region. Actions are needed to stimulate commercial insurance markets, including for homeowners, businesses, and agriculture including insurance of public assets. Public-private partnerships, including engagement of the insurance industry through institutions like the IDF, were identified as critical.
There is a need for significant scaling up of resources and financing for resilience-building, including considerations around lower interest rates on loans for programs that focus on resilience-building. There is a need to inculcate a culture of insurance built on public education, awareness, and clear policy signals from governments in collaboration with civil society and broader stakeholders as part of deepening disaster risk financing systems across the region. Development finance institutions and donors were challenged to be more innovative and to play a greater role in leveraging private sector expertise and capacities.