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Climate-health security in the Caribbean: an analysis

With a diverse topography and vulnerability to natural and human-made shocks, Editor John Kirton discusses how the Caribbean is exploring options to establish climate-health security with Dr C James Hospedales

Dr C JamesHospedales, Executive Director, Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). Photo Credit: St. Lucia News Online

Q - How do the Caribbean’s distinctive features make it vulnerable to climate change?

A – With 30 diverse countries and territories and more than 40 million people, the Caribbean comprises most of the world’s small island developing states (SIDS), places of extraordinary beauty and vulnerability to natural and human-made shocks, none more so than climate change. With more than 50 million arrivals per year, by air and cruise, it is the most tourism-dependent region in the world. But the industry is vulnerable to damage by climate change. The Caribbean oceanic basin is trapping warming and increasingly acidic waters, with unprecedented coral reef bleaching and die-offs and impacts on food and economic security. It is experiencing increasingly intense and frequent extreme weather events. Floods from heavy rainfall combined with rising sea levels create immediate emergency health relief needs, damage health centres and hospitals, and increase the risk of epidemics. Climate-sensitive disease vectors such as Aedes aegypti mosquitoes carry dengue and Zika. As temperatures rise, they are increasing in density and their ability to spread disease. Zika shows the intergenerational and cross-border costs this can bring: there is now local transmission of the virus in southern Florida. The Caribbean’s largely middle-income countries are ineligible for many of the development and climate change control funding available only to low-income countries. Yet their capacity to respond is low because of their very small size.

Q - How have these vulnerabilities inspired the Caribbean to pioneer solutions?

A – The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) was established in 2005. The Pan American Health Organization’s ‘SMART Hospitals’ programme to build resilience to the effects of climate change is a good contribution. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) recently launched the Expert Panel on Climate and Health with Tulane University to analyse, control and prevent the impact on human health and the environment. The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) was created in 2007 to help countries manage the economic risks of increasingly frequent hurricanes. Its work was endorsed by the G7 leaders at their summit in 2015. Discussions are under way to expand the coverage to include associated health effects of extreme weather events. Greening the CARPHA campus is another initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce energy costs.

Q - What more could the Caribbean do?

A The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association could work with regional institutions to rank how tourism facilities perform on integrated environmental and health standards. Cities of the Caribbean could be encouraged to join the C40 and ask it to address health effects and economic impacts in a broader and more integrated way. The Expert Panel calls for promoting alternative transport such as biking and walking, with links to the tourism industry, with triple bottom line returns. The Caribbean could create an integrated annual state-of-the environment-and-health report. This need for a joined-up set of information is a key recommendation of the Caribbean Development Bank on water as a strategic regional resource. Caribbean institutions could work more closely with the International Seabed Authority and UN Environment’s Caribbean Office – both headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica – to increase bidirectional learning about the health effects of climate change.

Q - How can the G7 leaders at their Taormina Summit best help?

A – G7 leaders could recognise the unique shared interests of the G7 and the G20 in the Caribbean – given the region’s location between North and South America, closely connecting independent countries with territories dependent on the United States, United Kingdom and the Netherlands, and parts of France through travel and trade. They could work with the region’s institutions to implement a G7/G20- CARICOM project to address health, climate and the environment in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals. They could recognise the Caribbean’s contributions beyond the CCRIF, and create a global risk insurance facility based on a more comprehensive and integrated concept of climate-associated risks that incorporate their many health effects. They could invite Caribbean leaders to attend the next G7 summit, in Canada in 2018, as was done for Jamaica and Haiti when Canada last hosted in 2010. They could institutionalise a regular dialogue between the G7 and Caribbean institutions responsible for health and climate change, starting with regular preand post-summit briefings. They could create an emergency response and surge capacity fund that can be drawn on by regional institutions such as CARPHA to address the health effects of climate change.

Peruse the complete G7 publication here.

5Cs Concludes Annual Board of Governors Meeting: Expanded partnerships with CARPHA, Deeper Private Sector Partnerships, New Member and Heightened Outreach Announced

Credit: Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. Not for use without written permission.

Credit: Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. Not for use without written permission.

Placencia, Belize; June 29, 2015― The Board of Governors of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre concluded its annual meeting (June 25 -28) in Placencia, Belize yesterday.  The Board agreed that the Centre  will deepen engagement with the private sector to ensure broad utilisation of the seminal Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation Tool (CCORAL), pursue closer collaboration with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA, which includes the former CEHI ), expand its youth focused public education work and welcome at least one new beneficiary country.

Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) are essential to advance the Centre’s multipronged approach to building climate resilience in the region. The Centre successfully used this approach to implement projects, such as  the installation of  reverse osmosis desalination facilities  in Bequia, Petite Martinique and Carriacou, to improve access to potable water. Leveraging this approach to improve the uptake of CCORAL will be a key feature of the Centre’s work in the coming year. CCORAL , which was launched by the Centre in July 2013, is an online support tool developed to strengthen climate resilient decision-making processes across various sectors in the Caribbean by embedding a risk ethic. It has been endorsed by regional and international partners, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Centre has been working with the Caribbean Development Bank, its long-standing partner and a permanent member of the 11 member Board of Governors, and other development partners to mobilise private sector support for the tool. The Board also notes that the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) is a natural partner for the success of the tool at the regional level.

Following a special presentation to the Board of Governors in 2014  by Dr C.J Hospedales, CARPHA’s Executive Director, the Centre is moving to deepen collaboration with the region’s premier health agency. The two entities are expected to collaborate to develop joint proposals aimed at reducing the region’s vulnerability and  building  resilience to the likely effects of climate change across a myriad of areas of mutual interest.

The success of the Centre’s new engagements will also offer an opportunity to advance its public education work. The Centre successfully piloted a network of school-based environmental clubs in Belmopan, Belize this year. This initiative includes 60 to 90 minute weekly meetings, experiential learning, highly interactive group exercises and discussions. This comprehensive youth focused outreach initiative, which also included the first Belize – Mexico Student Exchange on Climate Change, will be a key  element of the Centre’s public engagement moving forward. The network of clubs will be rolled out across Belize and in three other CARICOM countries over the next 12 months.

To meet the emerging challenges and demonstrate its commitment towards a low carbon development pathway, the Board also reinforced its support for the construction of facilities to carry out the Centre’s operations. The Centre is currently housed in rented facilities provided by the Government of  Belize. The Government of Belize has allocated 10 acres of land to the Centre, on which a custom-designed, ‘green’ facility will be constructed. The Centre  is in the process of seeking financing to undertake  this initiative. This development comes as the Centre prepares to celebrate its 10th Anniversary. The Board greatly appreciates the goodwill of the Centre’s host government  in areas including and beyond the provision of property for the future facility and also welcomes similar offers from the University of Belize.

As the Centre expands and matures it is looking to welcome a new member. The Centre expects Martinique to become an Associate Member in the medium term, which would bring the total beneficiary countries to 15. The Board of Governors is aware that all countries in the region, whether English-, French- or Dutch-speaking are highly vulnerable to the risks posed by global climate change, as they are exposed to the same threats such as rising air and sea surface temperatures, changing rainfall patterns sea-level rise and changes in the behaviour of extreme weather and climate-related extreme events. It is against this background that the Board welcomed the application of Martinique for Associate Membership.

The Centre has expanded rapidly since it commenced operations in 2005, having developed the capacity to successfully execute a suite of regional climate change related programmes worth between US$40 and US$50 million over the last five years. The Centre continued the execution of eight medium to large projects/programmes over the last twelve months. The Centre’s most recent programme is a €12.8 million initiative to address ecosystems-based adaptation under an agreement with the German Development Bank (KfW). The KfW supported engagement seeks to protect the region’s extensive coastal resources through a combination of ecosystems-based adaptation and environmental engineering approaches that will also embed livelihood considerations as a core element of the programme.   The comprehensive investment under the initiative developed by the Centre, in conjunction with the KfW, will focus on enhancing the resilience of the region’s coastal resources to the impacts of climate change and climate variability.

VIDEO: Climate Change Projects in the Caribbean:

Executive Director Dr. Kenrick Leslie says the Centre, under a directive from CARICOM Heads, has been “working with national governments to put together programmes that would help them develop bankable projects that can be funded under the various mechanisms under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Centre is putting maximum effort to ensure CARICOM Member States get their fair share of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), Adaptation Fund (AF) and other funds to help them in their adaptation efforts. That is our primary thrust— to meet the mandate given to us by the regional Heads.”

Accordingly, the Centre has applied to be a regional implementing entity for the Adaptation Fund, and is strengthening its capacity by establishing a Monitoring and Evaluation Unit to better prepare it to function as an implementing agency with the requisite technical capacity to institute projects on par with international organizations operating in the region. The new Unit will also advance the Centre’s capacity to advise and help governments develop, monitor and evaluate programmes in accordance with its mandate as the region’s key node of information and action on climate change. Following decisions taken at last year’s Board of Governors meeting, the Board has strengthened its fiduciary oversight through a Finance and Audit Sub-Committee of the Board of Governors, annual  internal audits,   and increased focus on data and plant security.

Chairman of the Board of Governors, Dr. Leonard Nurse, says these changes are necessary given the Centre’s shift from a project-based orientation to more programmatic activities in a bid to ensure its long-term sustainability. He notes that the Centre, which is primarily funded through grants and not government subventions, is swiftly advancing efforts to set up a Trust Fund. The Fund, which has been seeded with US$1M from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, will be an independent arrangement administrated by the CDB that would allow the Centre to co-finance projects and fund project priorities over the long-term.

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The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre coordinates the region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change. We maintain the Caribbean’s most extensive repository of information and data on climate change specific to the region, which in part enables us to provide climate change-related policy advice and guidelines to CARICOM member states through the CARICOM Secretariat. In this role, the Centre is recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme, and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean. The Centre is also a United Nations Institute for Training and Research recognised Centre of Excellence, one of an elite few. Learn more about how we’re working to make the Caribbean more climate resilient by perusing The Implementation Plan.

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Caribbean Governments now insured against excess rainfall

The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) is pleased to announce that eight of its members have become the first countries to purchase its excess rainfall insurance coverage – for the 2014/2015 policy year.

Developed by CCRIF and global reinsurer, Swiss Re, the excess rainfall product is aimed primarily at extreme high rainfall events of short duration (a few hours to a few days), whether they happen during a tropical cyclone (hurricane) or not. Like CCRIF’s tropical cyclone and earthquake insurance, the excess rainfall product is parametric and estimates the impacts of heavy rain using satellite rainfall data from the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) and exposure from CCRIF’s risk estimation database. Because the excess rainfall product is parametric, a payout can be made quickly (within 14 days) after a rain event that triggers a country’s policy, without waiting for time-consuming damage and loss assessments on the ground.

CCRIF CEO, Mr. Isaac Anthony, stated that “The new excess rainfall product has been eagerly awaited by Caribbean governments as we all realize that considerable damage in the region is caused by rainfall and flooding. This product complements CCRIF’s hurricane coverage which determines losses based on wind and storm surge. We commend our eight members for taking the initiative and purchasing this ground-breaking product and hope that other countries in the region will follow.”

In expressing Swiss Re’s support, Mr. Martyn Parker, Chairman, Global Partnerships stressed, “Securing excess rainfall insurance protection demonstrates that Caribbean countries are taking a proactive approach to manage the contingent risks posed by climate change. Swiss Re is proud to support them in their efforts to ensure fiscal stability after a disaster.”

These countries will now be able to respond better  to an event such as the trough that brought heavy rains to the Eastern Caribbean in December last year, which resulted in loss of life, extensive damage to infrastructure and wide-spread economic disruption. The excess rainfall product is independent of the tropical cyclone product and if both policies are triggered by an event then both payouts are due.

Taking into consideration the fiscal challenges that many of our members face and their increasing levels of vulnerability, CCRIF continues to work towards reducing the overall premium cost to members. To this end, for the 2014-2015 policy year, CCRIF offered two one-off premium discount options due to a third successive year in which none of the policies held by member countries were triggered by an event. The two discount options were: a 25% discount on tropical cyclone and earthquake policy premium if no excess rainfall policy is purchased; and up to a 50% discount if applied to an excess rainfall policy.

Also, as done previously, for 2014/2015 policies, CCRIF allowed 50% of the total premium to be held as paid-in Participation Fee (the one-time fee paid when a country joins the Facility), with the excess therefore being available to co-fund premium, providing an opportunity to further reduce current expenditure on policy premiums. Additionally, countries which have not already done so can exercise the option to reduce their attachment point to a 10-year return period for tropical cyclones. This would result in coverage being secured for events that occur more frequently than was previously available.

As the main part of the Atlantic Hurricane Season approaches, CCRIF remains committed to supporting its members in their disaster risk management initiatives and their progress towards climate resiliency.

Note: TRMM is a research initiative undertaken by the US National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

About CCRIF: CCRIF is a not-for-profit risk pooling facility, owned, operated and registered in the Caribbean for Caribbean governments. It is designed to limit the financial impact of catastrophic hurricanes and earthquakes to Caribbean governments by quickly providing short-term liquidity when a parametric insurance policy is triggered. It is the world’s first regional fund utilising parametric insurance, giving Caribbean governments the unique opportunity to purchase earthquake and hurricane catastrophe coverage withlowest-possible pricing. CCRIF was developed under the technical leadership of the World Bank and with a grant from the Government of Japan. It was capitalised through contributions to a multi-donor Trust Fund by the Government of Canada, the European Union, the World Bank, the governments of the UK and France, the Caribbean Development Bank and the governments of Ireland and Bermuda, as well as through membership fees paid by participating governments. Since the inception of CCRIF in 2007, the Facility has made eight payouts totalling US$32,179,470 to seven member governments. All payouts were transferred to the respective governments within two weeks after each event.
For more information about CCRIF, please visit the CCRIF website at www.ccrif.org or send an email to pr@ccrif.org.
 
Credit: The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facilty

CCRIF Expands Scholarship Programme

Scholarship Information

Scholarship Information

The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) has expanded its scholarship programme to include Caribbean universities – in addition to those in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, previously available under the CCRIF Extra-Regional Scholarship Programme. CCRIF now invites applications for its new CCRIF Scholarship Programme for 2014.

CCRIF will provide a maximum of four scholarships for citizens of CARICOM member countries and/or CCRIF member countries who would like to pursue a Masters or an MBA programme in one of the areas identified below which is available at universities in the UK, US or Canada or at eligible regional universities (other than the University of the West Indies – UWI). Note that CCRIF has a special programme with UWI, which provides scholarships at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels. The CCRIF-UWI Scholarship Programme is administered by UWI.

Eligible programme areas for the CCRIF Scholarship Programme include:

  • (Catastrophe) Risk Management
  • Property/Casualty Insurance
  • Climate Change
  • Other hazard/disaster related disciplines
  • MBA programme with a major in risk management and/or insurance or a related field

The scholarships are valued at a maximum of US$20,000 each for Caribbean universities or US$40,000 each for extra-regional universities and are specifically for those applicants who would have gained admission to a Masters level programme or an MBA programme fitting the eligibility criteria presented above. Preference will be given to individuals seeking to attend regional universities.

Since 2010, CCRIF has awarded 24 scholarships to students through its Extra-Regional Scholarship Programme, its CCRIF-UWI Scholarship Programme or through its cooperation with member countries and regional organisations. Total disbursements to date are in excess of US$380,000. Scholarship recipients have come from eight Caribbean countries and have gone on to work in the areas of disaster risk management, environmental health, meteorology, climate change and sustainable development, among others.

The CCRIF Scholarship Programme is part of its Technical Assistance Programme, which has been developed to help countries in the region deepen their understanding of natural hazards and catastrophe risk and the potential impacts of climate change. The scholarship component is helping to create a cadre of professionals who are playing a key role in developing national and regional strategies that will lead to improved disaster risk management and increased climate change resilience.

  • Applications for the CCRIF Scholarship Programme must be submitted via the CCRIF website at: http://www.ccrif.org/content/scholarship no later than May 19, 2013. 
  • For additional information or for clarification, please email: ccrifscholarships@ccrif.org.

About CCRIF: CCRIF is a not-for-profit risk pooling facility, owned, operated and registered in the Caribbean for Caribbean governments. It is designed to limit the financial impact of catastrophic hurricanes and earthquakes to Caribbean governments by quickly providing short-term liquidity when a parametric insurance policy is triggered.  It is the world’s first regional fund utilising parametric insurance, giving Caribbean governments the unique opportunity to purchase earthquake and hurricane catastrophe coverage with lowest-possible pricing.  CCRIF was developed under the technical leadership of the World Bank and with a grant from the Government of Japan. It was capitalised through contributions to a multi-donor Trust Fund by the Government of Canada, the European Union, the World Bank, the governments of the UK and France, the Caribbean Development Bank and the governments of Ireland and Bermuda, as well as through membership fees paid by participating governments. Since the inception of CCRIF in 2007, the Facility has made eight payouts totalling US$32,179,470 to seven member governments. All payouts were transferred to the respective governments within two weeks after each event.

For more information about CCRIF, please visit the CCRIF website at www.ccrif.org or send an email to pr@ccrif.org.
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