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Risk in Context Podcast: COP28's key significance for risk management amidst increased focus on climate adaptation

Climate change took center stage during the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference, COP28, which took place recently in Dubai.

Panarama of the mountains, snow and blue glacial ice of the Smeerenburg glacier, Svalbard, and archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole. An inflatable boat is anchored in the foreground.

Global concerns about the impact of climate change took center stage during the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference, COP28, which took place recently in Dubai. Government leaders and senior officials from organizations around the world gathered to discuss the effects of climate change and the actions required to address them.

While effectively managing climate change requires a continuing mitigation effort, there is increased recognition that this is not sufficient, especially considering the changes that have already taken place, Instead, there is an increased emphasis on adaptation to increase resiliency with organizations needing to focus beyond their own assets, but also understand the vulnerabilities of third parties.

In this episode of Risk in Context, Amy Barnes, Marsh's Head of Climate and Sustainability Strategy, talks with Nick Faull, the Head of Climate and Sustainability Risk and Innovation at Marsh, Scott Williams, the ESG coordinating director for Marsh India, the Middle East, and Africa, and Swenja Surminski, Managing Director, Climate and Sustainability at Marsh McLennan. They discuss learnings from the conference and what these mean for businesses and their risk managers, share some of the actions that organizations are already taking or should be considering, and talk about expectations for 2024.

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Key takeaways

Changing climate puts increased focus on adaptation.

Even if global warming is contained to 1.5 degrees Celsius, there will still be a significant need for people and organizations to adapt to new circumstances. Organizations and their senior leaders, including risk managers, will need to think about adaptation both in regard to their own assets and also downstream vendors, and focus on how adaptation can make communities and businesses resilient in the face of evolving and emerging risks

Need for a clear understanding of evolving climate risks.

Climate-related risks have an immense capability to cause significant damage and disruption. As countries and companies seek to become more resilient to climate-related challenges, they should first identify the potential impact that climate risks could have on their own assets, supply chain partners, and more. This insight can help them take make the necessary decisions to adapt to a changing climate and become more resilient in an uncertain future.

Risk managers have a critical role in addressing climate risks.

All organizations, irrespective of their industry or geography, are likely to be impacted by climate-related risks. As they take action to become more resilient, it’s important to evaluate innovations that can help them manage their risks and become involved in their organization’s discussion on navigating climate risks.

About our speakers

Amy Barnes

Amy Barnes

Head of Climate & Sustainability Strategy, Marsh

  • Global

Amy Barnes heads Marsh’s climate and sustainability strategy. Prior to this she held a number of leadership roles with Marsh’s global energy, power, and renewables business. She has a respected depth and breadth of experience assisting some of the largest and most complex companies manage risks. This experience enables her to have a deep understanding of a wide range of clients’ risk management approaches. She joined Marsh as an environmental insurance broker and has 20 years of relevant industry experience with Marsh.

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Nick Faull

Head of Climate & Sustainability Risk, Marsh

  • United Kingdom

Nick Faull is head of Marsh Advisory’s Strategic Risk Consulting Practice in the UK, through which he leads the rollout of Marsh’s climate proposition. He has extensive experience consulting to leading financial institutions and has completed a DPhil in climate change modeling at Oxford University.

Scott Williams

Scott Williams

Climate & Sustainability Advisory Leader, India, Middle East and Africa

  • South Africa

A chartered accountant by background, Scott Williams is responsible for the coordination and delivery of ESG advisory engagements. His areas of expertise are ESG advisory and reporting engagements. He also has extensive experience of sustainability assurance engagements. He has a postgraduate certificate in development management, providing him with strong credentials and knowledge of sustainable development-related matters. Prior to joining Marsh, he was an associate director in PwC’s sustainability and climate change department and prior to that had 10 years of financial assurance experience.

Swenja Surminski

Swenja Surminski

Managing Director of Climate and Sustainability, Marsh McLennan

  • United Kingdom

Swenja Surminski is managing director of climate and sustainability at Marsh McLennan, and chairs the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative. She is a Professor at the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics and has been appointed by the UK government to the UK Climate Change Committee, an independent statutory body that advises the UK government on emissions targets and on adapting to the impacts of climate change. She was contributing author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and has written several books and articles on climate risk management.

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