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More resilience for cities and communities: the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Munich Re wants to contribute to fulfilling the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Our efforts focus on improving the risk management of cities and communities.

At the core of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, signed by all member states of the United Nations, is a catalogue of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The objective is to develop solutions by 2030 to end global poverty, combat social inequality and mitigate the effects of climate change. The SDGs comprise all three dimensions of the strategies for sustainable development and cover a wide range of topics from education, health,social security systems up to employment. In concrete terms, some of these goals are to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere”, “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” and “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.

Cities to be made safer and more resilient

The eleventh SDG states that cities and communities should be made inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. According to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, 30% of the world’s population lived in urban centres in the mid 20th century. Today, that figure is over 50% – and it is set to reach 80% by 2050. Against this backdrop, the eleventh UN Sustainable Development Goal is of particular urgency. The resilience of urban centres has been a core topic for Munich Re for many years. Cities and communities that know, manage and safeguard against their risks can take measures to counter negative influences, and can bounce back faster, for example from the effects of natural catastrophes. Munich Re is making an important contribution to this as a founding member of the Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI), the UN initiative for sustainability in the insurance industry.

Improved risk management by means of innovative finance concepts

Through several operational units Munich Re supports cities and communities with various solutions offering better risk management and greater resilience. Impact bond concepts are one option for financing social, humanitarian aid and environmental projects. For example, the Urban Air Pollution Impact Bond provides for financial compensation if air pollution control targets are not met despite the implementation of previously defined measures. Munich Re can support municipal authorities with the assessment and evaluation of such measures. This helps local authorities achieving greater financial planning certainty, enabling them to concentrate more on developing, testing and appraising new air quality improvement measures. Furthermore investors can also participate efficiently in resilience enhancement schemes.

“Our solutions dovetail the risk-minimisation effect with the idea of expanding the boundaries of insurability”, explains August Pröbstl, Global Head of Capital Partners. “Preventative investments in measures to increase resilience reduce the underlying risks.”

Learning from and with each other through dialogue

Munich Re is also promoting a sustainable future for cities and communities through events and other initiatives. One example is our involvement in the City Innovation Platform for African Infrastructure Risk and Resilience (CIP AIRR) initiative since 2016. In dialogue with city representatives, the initiative looks at how – also with insurance industry support – public infrastructure projects can be planned and implemented in a more sustainable way. The promising results of a pilot project in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, can be seen in a study by Climate Wise .

For two years, Munich Re has supported the Resilient Cities conference held annually in Bonn by the global network of cities, towns and regions “ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability”. At these conferences, Munich Re illustrates possibilities for adjusting to and minimising risk using current projects as examples. The first Insuring Resilient and Sustainable Cities Summit was held there in 2017.

The ICLEI World Congress 2018 will take place on 19-22 June 2018 in Montreal. One of the items on the agenda is a round table with insurance industry representatives and mayors of cities and communities. Reflecting SDG 11, the Insurance Development Goals for Cities, in which Munich Re was closely involved, will also be presented.

The prospects for resilient cities and communities

Congestion, scant funds for basic service provision, a lack of housing and infrastructure – the challenges for resilient cities are great. But these can be overcome: the key requirement   is that effective measures exist to counter negative influences and the consequences of catastrophes. Here, Munich Re is making a positive contribution with specialised finance and insurance solutions.

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