Munich Re takes a key role in the International Resilient Cities Congress 2017


With the support of the City of Bonn, for the eighth time the Bonn-based worldwide network of sustainable cities ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability staged the “Resilient Cities 2017” conference.

This took place from 4 to 6 May 2017 in the Gustav Stresemann Institute and was attended by around 400 participants from approximately 50 countries. The participants included experts from the United Nations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), representatives of the financial sector, and many representatives of cities and municipalities worldwide.

New: The Insurance Industry and Cities Summit

The “Resilient Cities” conference series has been the global dialogue platform for cities, science and business on issues of climate adaptation and sustainable transformation in Bonn since 2010. Topics discussed include climate change adaptation strategies, urban planning tools, financing issues, climate impact management, and disaster management. At this year’s conference, in an Insurance Industry and Cities Summit hosted jointly by ICLEI and the organisers of the UN Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI), insurance issues for cities were discussed for the first time. The focus topic here was, in particular, how the insurance industry – as risk managers, risk carriers and investors – can specifically work together with cities, for example in the areas of increasing risk awareness and covering particularly critical risks.

Alongside guest speakers from AXA, Allianz, Finance Norway, Risk Management Solutions, Aviva Investors, InsuResilience Initiative, the Permanent Mission of Fiji to the UN, GIZ (the German agency for international cooperation), Ramboll Denmark, the City of Oslo (Norway), the City of Iloilo (Philippines), the City of Copenhagen (Denmark) and the City of Bangkok (Thailand), Munich Re presented its expertise, experience and innovative covers in the area of natural hazards and climate change on a total of four international panels. In addition, a young innovation start-up, Hawa Dawa (, one of the winners of the Eight Billion Lives Fellowship supported by Munich Re, presented its technology for measuring urban air pollution. Special 3D glasses were used to give a visual presentation of this problem in urban areas which will continue to intensify in the future, taking as an example the spread of fine dust and dirt particles in central Paris.

In view of the growing risks from climate change and natural hazards, cities are the first affected when it comes to sustainable development and planning. This is the main reason why cities are now increasingly wanting to cooperate with the insurance industry – and indeed must do – in order to be better able to assess and manage the risks in question.
Gino van Begin
Secretary General

En route to the World Climate Summit (COP 23)

This year, the Conference also played a preparatory role in the run-up to the United Nations World Climate Summit in Bonn in November of this year. According to the Lord Mayor of Bonn, Ashok Sridharan, this Summit would focus on cities’ contributions to implementing the Paris Climate Agreement – both in the upcoming revision of national climate change objectives and in the cooperation with partners from business, civil society and vulnerable societies of the Global South, as well as in the implementation of the big global agendas.

Natural disasters and cities – Figures and data

According to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) in Brussels, between 1994 and 2013 an average of 218 million people per year were affected by natural disasters. In this period, 6,873 disaster events were recorded which claimed altogether 1.35 million lives – an average of 68,000 per year. In 2015, more than 15 million people in urban centres in over 25 countries were affected by natural disasters.

Half the world’s population lives less than 60 km from the sea, while three-quarters of all large cities are on the coast. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the number of people affected by coastal flooding due to rising sea levels and socio-economic developments may triple by 2070. The value of assets under threat will increase tenfold, from US$ 3bn to US$ 35bn.

According to United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) data from 2015, the number of people living in slums has risen to around a quarter of the world’s urban population. In these developing countries, one out of three city dwellers lives in an informal settlement. These communities are the ones most at risk.