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UN, World Bank, insurance sector tackle climate vulnerability (06.10.2016)

un-idf

NEW YORK, 6 October 2016 – A new public-private partnership between the leaders of the United Nations, the World Bank and the insurance sector has adopted a risk management strategy that seeks to harness insurance to promote economic recovery and resilience to climate hazards and disasters.

The Insurance Development Forum (IDF) said that it has decided to contribute to achieving the G7 “InsuResilience” target of providing 400 million of the most vulnerable people in developing countries with increased access to direct or indirect insurance coverage against the impacts of climate change and related natural catastrophes by 2020.

“For many developing countries with scarce resources, rebuilding is often beyond their means. Typically, a disaster is followed by appeals to bilateral, regional, and international partners for aid relief and financial support,” said Ms. Helen Clark, IDF Co-Chair and Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme.

“This support, however, often falls well short of what is required. Systemic lack of funds and recurrent inefficiency of recovery initiatives on the ground impede progress. Insurance can be an efficient, fast-disbursing mechanism to build back better in vulnerable countries and communities hit by disasters, but also to reduce risks and the costs of risks in the long term.”

The IDF was first announced at the COP21 UN climate summit in Paris in December 2015 and officially launched in April 2016.

It is led by a Steering Committee, chaired by Mr. Stephen Catlin, Deputy Executive Chair of XL Group Ltd., with Co-Chairs Ms. Clark and Mr. Joaquim Levy, World Bank Group Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer. Other Steering Committee members include Mr. Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England and Chairman of the Financial Stability Board, and Mr. Robert Glasser, the UN’s Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, as well as 13 insurance industry CEOs. Additional governmental and public sector organizations are expected to engage in the coming year.

The IDF adopted its insurance-based strategy when it met on the sidelines of the recent UN General Assembly session. It approved a proposal to create a Technical Assistance Facility (TAF), which will assemble public and private insurance industry resources and tools necessary to support governments in building public-private partnerships that will better manage the financial consequences of climate events and natural disasters while increasing the use of insurance in emerging markets and developing countries. Work has begun to secure funds for the programme.

The IDF’s work is linked with a string of UN agreements adopted in 2015 to set the global development agenda for years to come. They include the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“With growing natural disaster losses it is essential that governments learn how to incorporate risk management fundamentals into their planning, budgeting and governing processes so that their citizens can be better protected,” said Mr. Catlin.

Joaquim Levy, IDF Co-Chair and World Bank Group Chief Financial Officer stated that “many emerging market and developing countries lack sufficiently developed insurance markets, which does stifle growth and has a negative impact not only on business but on general welfare, notably among the poorest. The lack of insurance instruments or broader risk-pooling or risk-mitigation mechanisms is also evident in the public sector, affecting government’s ability to respond to natural disasters and other large-scale events”.

Mr. Rowan Douglas, chair of the IDF Implementation Committee and head of the Capital Science and Policy Practice at Willis Towers Watson, said, “We all recognize a unique moment and opportunity to make a huge step forward in the protection of lives, livelihoods and communities – realizing the benefits of insurance across public, private and mutual and cooperative sectors.”

The IDF focuses on members of the “Vulnerable Twenty Group”, which was set up in 2015 and groups the finance ministers of countries highly vulnerable to a warming planet in dialogue and action to tackle global climate change.

UNCTAD Warns on Debt, Says Africa Should Find New Ways to Finance Development

Ghana Currency

This year’s UNCTAD Economic Development in Africa Report 2016 finds that Africa’s external debt ratios appear manageable, but African governments must take action to prevent rapid debt growth from becoming a crisis, as experienced in the late 1980s and 1990s. 

NAIROBI, Kenya, July 21, 2016 – African governments should add new revenue sources to finance their development, such as remittances, public-private partnerships, and a clampdown on illicit financial flows, an UNCTAD report said on Thursday, warning that debt looks unsustainable in some countries.

This year’s UNCTAD Economic Development in Africa Report 2016 finds that Africa’s external debt ratios appear manageable, but African governments must take action to prevent rapid debt growth from becoming a crisis, as experienced in the late 1980s and 1990s.

“Borrowing can be an important part of improving the lives of African citizens,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said. “But we must find a balance between the present and the future, because debt is dangerous when unsustainable.”

At least $600 billion will be needed each year to meet the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa, according to the report which is subtitled Debt Dynamics and Development Finance in Africa. This amount equates to roughly a third of countries’ gross national income. Official development aid and external debt are unlikely to cover these needs, the report finds.

A decade or so of strong growth has provided many countries with the opportunity to access international financial markets. Between 2006 and 2009, the average African country saw its external debt stock grow 7.8 percent per year, a figure that accelerates to 10 percent per year in the years 2011–2013 to reach $443 billion or 22 per cent of gross national income by 2013.

Several African countries have also borrowed heavily on domestic markets, the report finds. It provides specific examples and analyses of domestic debt in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Zambia. In some countries, domestic debt rose from an average 11 percent of GDP in 1995 to around 19 percent at the end of 2013, almost doubling in two decades.

“Many African countries have begun the move away from a dependence on official development aid, looking to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals with new and innovative sources of finance,” Dr. Kituyi said.

The report argues that African countries should look for complementary sources of revenue, including remittances, which have been growing rapidly, reaching $63.8 billion to Africa in 2014. The report discusses how remittances and diaspora savings can contribute to public and development finance.

Together with the global community, Africa must also tackle illicit financial flows; which can be as high as $50 billion per year. Between 1970 and 2008, Africa lost an estimated $854 billion in illicit financial flows, roughly equal to all official development assistance received by the continent in that time.

And while governments should be vigilant of the borrowing risks, public-private partnerships have also started to play a more prominent role in financing development. In Africa, public-private partnerships are being used especially to finance infrastructure. Of the 52 countries considered during the period 1990-2014, Nigeria tops the list with $37.9 billion of investment, followed by Morocco and South Africa.

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