This year’s RMS Impact Trek, to help support the work of our longstanding partner, Build Change, heads off to the Philippines on March 17. A team of RMS employees and RMS clients will work together on a 10-day trek with Build Change to learn more about how to ensure communities benefit from safe housing, through the use of retrofitting and sound construction methods. The skills that both our employees and clients bring are very complementary to these tasks, and knowledge of risk modeling and analytics, and how to apply this knowledge to develop resilience is highly valued. For more insight, watch the video below from the 2018 Impact Trek in Nepal.
Here’s a chance to welcome our client participants and find out more about why they wanted to join this year’s RMS Impact Trek:
Doris Azarcon: Director, Actuary – Risk, SCOR
I grew up in the Philippines, where typhoons and earthquakes often pummel the country. Poor design and construction shortcuts are avoidable causes of death and destruction. The country remembers events such as the collapse of the six-story Ruby Tower in Manila from the Mw 7.3 Casiguran earthquake in 1968, which killed 268 people.
More recent typhoons and earthquakes have caused massive destruction of property and loss of lives across the Philippines. In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan was particularly personal since it ravaged a province where my mother grew up. An elderly aunt who lived by the sea, lost her home and loved ones, and while she was thankfully found and airlifted several days later, she died within the year from the impact on her health, and some said from heartbreak of seeing her beloved hometown devastated.
I am extremely grateful to Build Change and RMS for choosing to bring the Impact Trek to the Philippines this year. What appealed to me was the opportunity to use my risk analytics skills to make a truly impactful contribution to people’s lives. We will work on a project aligned with Build Change’s mission, and plan to use RMS’s catastrophe models and our combined skillsets to understand the human and housing losses from a large disaster, and quantify the benefits that would result from strengthening housing.
Build Change recently completed a study on the demand for retrofitting homes in the Philippines, identifying financing needs. The trek participants will use risk analytics and risk capital expertise to prepare and make presentations on behalf of Build Change to existing and prospective partners who can provide financing and insurance for the retrofitted homes. We will also develop a strategy to approach local insurers to provide coverage for houses that are strengthened.
Because I grew up in the Philippines and still have close ties to family and friends there, I hope to help the team navigate the existing and prospective partnerships, as well as provide some logistical tips for the trekkers. SCOR is a global life and property and casualty reinsurer with presence in all continents but Antarctica. I have seen the tremendous amount of expertise that we have, and my involvement in the Impact Trek gives me a voice to support something that I truly believe in.
Victoria Jarman: Risk and Exposure Manager, Chaucer
Having visited my family that live in the Philippines last year, it was clear to see the impact heavy rainfall can have on local infrastructure and housing. In the future, these communities are going to become more vulnerable as a result of climate change and a growing population, therefore it is important that the insurance industry looks to improve the resilience of these communities through sustainable solutions. I am looking forward to the opportunity to be able to work with Build Change to better understand how best to support communities like these that get less attention in the London insurance market.
I first heard of some of the work that Build Change carry out at the RMS Exceedance conference. It is humbling to hear about the long-lasting impact they have had on communities all around the world. As a member of the Chaucer CSR committee, we encourage colleagues to use their professional skills in their volunteering and this is a brilliant example to the business on how this can be achieved.
I am keen to better understand how I can combine my interest for creating positive change in vulnerable societies, and my role within the (re)insurance industry. I have begun to participate in the broader debate around the impact of our industry on society, and I want to continue in this vein and take more time to develop my thinking around this and what I can do to contribute.
Emma Watkins: Senior Manager, Exposure Management, Lloyd’s
This is a great opportunity to meet people who are working to build and rebuild their lives in the Philippines, and to find out what makes the biggest difference to them, to see the world from their point of view. I am increasingly convinced that in order to decide where best to expend time and resources, we need to listen to those who might need our support and develop a level of understanding that cannot necessarily be achieved without seeing and hearing firsthand.
The work that Build Change is doing in the Philippines on pre-disaster retrofitting or “future-fitting” is different from many projects in its consultative nature, which ensures that projects are both successful and sustainable. For a nation that is at risk from both earthquakes and typhoons, increasing resilience is a vital tool in the arsenal of “disaster finance”, but also the best way to enhance and to save lives. And I’m sure that there are lessons that can be learnt from work in the Philippines that can be applied in other catastrophe-prone regions, not to mention other regions where the future risk may be heightened by sea-level change, for example.
I am also very interested in the role that insurance can play in the financing of resilience, and would like to share my knowledge of how financial modeling (specifically catastrophe modeling) can help communities, businesses, governments and other entities make sense of the investment decisions they are faced with. I like to look at things from a different perspective and can relate to the marginalized and those whose opinions may not always be heard, to be able to help explain very technical concepts in a way can be that will be meaningful to our stakeholder audiences.
Lloyd’s Charities Trust aims to support communities most at risk from disaster on behalf of the Lloyd’s market. For the last three years, they have actually been partnered with Build Change to fund the retrofitting of vulnerable homes in Medellin in Colombia and in Manila. I am excited to see for myself how the project been successful on the ground in Manila and how it can be scaled up sustainably.
Find out more about Build Change.