LONDON, June 25, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Business and finance leaders and the world's leading minds on disaster risk reduction and natural hazards today called for companies to include reporting of natural disaster risk in their company disclosures, as they met in London for a United Nations summit hosted by the International Insurance Society (IIS) and organised by Willis Group Holdings (NYSE:WSH), the global risk adviser, insurance and reinsurance broker.
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The summit, which is the culmination of four years of collaboration between private and financial sectors and the UN Office for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), was convened to help integrate the business sector and financial system within the architecture and instruments of the new global framework on disaster risk reduction to be adopted at a UN World Conference next March.
At this morning's event, the business case for disaster risk reduction was echoed by a number of distinguished speakers. HRH The Prince of Wales spoke of the need for every section of society to protect the entire planet through disaster resilience. HRH backed the need for concrete private sector commitments to disaster risk reduction in the approach to the renewal of the UN Hyogo Framework and spoke of his belief that a full appreciation of risk underpins sustainable development.
Dominic Casserley of Willis Group, which has played a key role in bringing together the worlds of capital, science and policy to reach this point, addressed the audience on how the insurance sector is helping to reduce the human, social and financial cost of natural disasters.
"Disaster risk is playing a greater part in human life than ever before," he said, "and it is driven by demographics, economic development and climate change. Increasingly violent and frequent weather events are affecting communities and businesses, particularly in urban areas with ever more dense populations. The UN's global assessment of risk from disasters showed direct losses of $2.5 trillion this century. And at a private sector level, these risks are material for many companies, leading to concerns about the future and less confidence to invest and create jobs. As an industry, we have got much smarter about understanding, pricing and sharing risk and this expertise gives us the power to respond to these greater threats.
"This is also about investment. Investors want access to meaningful information that allows them to make informed judgments about a business. Yet some of today's most important risks are completely absent from their mindsets. Better disclosure of the real risks that businesses face will lead to improved valuations and pricing for capital, with the better returns that implies.
"Stronger companies translate in to stronger communities, building new resilience for society against what is an increasingly risky world."
Elizabeth Longworth, Director of the UNISDR, Madelyn Antoncic, Treasurer of the World Bank and Mike Morrissey, President and CEO of the IIS, were among those who also added their support to the UN's agenda.
Elizabeth Longworth, UNISDR director, told delegates:
"The business case for disaster risk reduction has been well made by many people here, not least the Prince of Wales. The private sector has never been more engaged in the work of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and this meeting today, and the proposals which will come from it, will help to ensure the integration of the business sector and financial system into the priorities for action contained in the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction."
Willis Group Holdings plc is a leading global risk adviser, insurance and reinsurance broker. With roots dating to 1828, Willis operates today on every continent with more than 18,000 employees in over 400 offices. Willis offers its clients superior expertise, teamwork, innovation and market-leading products and professional services in risk management and transfer. Our experts rank among the world's leading authorities on analytics, modelling and mitigation strategies at the intersection of global commerce and extreme events. Find more information at our website, www.willis.com, our leadership journal, Resilience, or our up-to-the-minute blog on breaking news, WillisWire. Across geographies, industries and specialisms, Willis provides its local and multinational clients with resilience for a risky world.
About the UN HFA and the Financial and Private Sector Disaster Resilience Global Summit
The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) is the first plan to explain, describe and detail the work that is required from all different sectors and actors to reduce disaster losses. It was developed and agreed on with the many partners needed to reduce disaster risk - governments, international agencies, disaster experts and many others - bringing them into a common system of coordination. It was adopted by all UN Member States in 2005 and outlines five priorities for action, and offers guiding principles and practical means for achieving disaster resilience. Its goal is to substantially reduce disaster losses by 2015 by building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters. This means reducing loss of lives and social, economic, and environmental assets when hazards strike.
The Summit represents a significant milestone in the process to renew the HFA and develop a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction in 2015. A major priority for the new framework is the mainstream integration of the business sector and financial system. It is expected to be adopted at the Third UN Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, in March, 2015.
This framework is an agreement across UN members to reduce the losses of lives, livelihoods and assets from natural hazards through a better understanding of risk and the development of risk-sensitive processes across the economy and public policy to strengthen physical and financial resilience.
For further information, please visit www.unisdr.org.
The photo is also available via AP PhotoExpress