Alice Steenland AXA Group Head of Corporate Responsibility

United for Disaster Risk Resilience

AXA has signed the insurance industry's landmark statement in support of disaster risk reduction. Alice Steenland, Group Head of Corporate Responsibility, tells us more about why AXA has taken part in this initiative.
Mar 17, 2015

Why have insurers developed this statement on disaster risk reduction?

On March 13th, governments and UN organizations have gathered in Sendai with the aim of adopting a new global framework to help nations and communities improve their resilience to natural disasters.

For the first time, the private sector is considered a key stakeholder in the process, with the ability not only to deliver concrete solutions (financing, technologies, etc.) but whose commitments might also help push government actors to be more ambitious.

At AXA we have been involved in the private sector advisory group of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) since 2013 and have been very active in promoting the role insurers can play in disaster risk reduction. This is why over the last months we have been in contact with the UN PSI to build the insurance sector's position through a statement in support of disaster risk reduction.

What can insurers do to help societies better face natural disasters?

We believe that fostering strong public-private partnerships can drive disaster risk reduction and resilience both at the local and national levels. Insurers' experience in assessing and managing risks could be of use to public authorities, especially in designing risk prevention strategies.

The data and tools from the insurance industry on disaster risk could also be leveraged to build resilience through adequate standards on land use, building codes, and risk zoning.

Finally, a key element is that the identification, disclosure and proactive management of these risks become standard practice for private and public sectors alike. In this regard, the strong risk management processes, models, and metrics developed by the insurance industry can serve as an example.

Are you planning to follow up with further commitments in 2015?

Yes, the UN PSI Initiative is leading a second initiative in which insurers will take quantified commitments in support of disaster risk reduction. More details on this will follow in the coming months!

More broadly, it is essential that public and private authorities act quickly and decisively. As mentioned by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Sendai, six billion dollars allocated each year can result in savings of up to USD 360 billion by 2030.

And the scale of the destructions caused by Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu on March 13th reminds us of why disaster risk reduction is so crucial.