Howden urges greater financial market support for communities

The CEO of an international broking group has told delegates at the COP26 summit that the global financial industry has to partner with humanitarian and philanthropic communities to create a market that helps close the widening gap in disaster relief funding.

David Howden, (above) CEO of Howden Group, warned that this was more than a gap in funding it was a life or death situation for millions around the world.

Howden weas giving the keynote speech on resilience at the summit in Glasgow. He warned despite governments, foundations and individuals continuing to pour public money into disaster relief, the funding shortfall has never been wider, rising from $1 billion 20 years ago to $20 billion today.

“The shortfall isn’t just a funding gap, it is lives and livelihoods,” said Howden. “It is the difference between the 235 million people who need humanitarian support and the 160 million people that humanitarian organisations can currently afford to reach.” Insurance solutions, such as catastrophe bonds, could be the bridge between private capital and the humanitarian projects that need it. He observed: “The real power of insurance lies not only in its underwriting and risk modelling capabilities, but its ability to attract and mobilise capital.”

He said public funds are not enough to tackle the rising frequency and severity of disasters globally, leading Howden to conclude that the deployment of private capital is essential to providing this relief.

Howden referenced the recently launched world’s first catastrophe bond for volcanic eruptions, which it worked on in partnership with the Danish Red Cross and helped to fund through its own foundation to demonstrate the role insurance can play in disaster relief financing.

“It is an acorn which, if we bring together the investment, humanitarian and philanthropic communities, can grow into a forest of oaks trees,” he added.

With growing investor appetite for asset classes that support societal resilience, Howden estimated that if 3% of global pension funds’ assets under management were redirected into insurance-based ESG investments, this would equate to $1.5 trillion of capital for social good.

He called upon the global investment, humanitarian and philanthropic communities at the Summit to join together to establish a market: “We can’t keep relying on government and charities to find more money – there is far more private capital available than public – and there is huge appetite from this capital to invest in ESG, but it needs a market. So I’m here today to ask for your help in creating that market.

“To humanitarian organisations wanting to make the most of your funds for resilience and preparedness – bring us your disaster relief projects.  To foundations looking to make the greatest impact on saving lives and livelihoods with every donation – fund the premium and stretch the impact of every dollar. And to investors looking to channel your capital into asset classes that help to deliver societal good – come and talk to us.”

Howden added: “Together, we can plant and grow that amazing oak forest by creating a market that unlocks private capital for social good.”

Howden referenced the recently launched world’s first catastrophe bond for volcanic eruptions, which it worked on in partnership with the Danish Red Cross and helped to fund through its own foundation to demonstrate the role insurance can play in disaster relief financing.

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