Women CEOs at ICMIF members lead the way in disaster risk reduction

8 March 2022

JAKARTA, Indonesia - January 11, 2020: Horse cart crossing the flood while carrying passenger in some residence at Jakarta city

The United Nations Observance of International Women’s Day (IWD) will be held virtually on 8 March 2022 (10.00 am to 11.30 am EST) with the theme this year being “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”.

According to the UN, the year 2022 is pivotal for achieving gender equality in the context of climate change, and environmental and disaster risk reduction, which are some of the greatest global challenges of the twenty-first century. Without gender equality today, a sustainable future, and an equal future, will remain beyond our reach.

This year’s UN IWD Observance is in recognition and celebration of the women and girls who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation and response, and to honour their leadership and contribution towards a sustainable future.

In November 2019, the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) began a multi-year collaboration to help address the urgent challenge of reducing disaster risks.

Specifically, the collaboration aims to identify what is needed in practical terms to enable a shift within the insurance industry from a focus on providing risk transfer products and services as a means to protect the insured from disaster risks to an emphasis on prevention through disaster risk reduction (DRR) incentives, awareness, capacity and financing. With a member-driven operating model, the cooperative and mutual insurance sector is uniquely positioned to take a lead in charting a practical path from risk protection to prevention.

In 2021, ICMIF and the UNDRR published a first-of-its-kind joint report, From protection to prevention: The role of cooperative and mutual insurance in disaster risk reduction, which identified seven practical mechanisms for how the cooperative and mutual insurance sector can help drive prevention and disaster risk reduction and presented 20 case studies where ICMIF member organisations were leading the way in prevention and disaster risk reduction. Many of these case studies are from ICMIF member organisations led by women.

Speaking about the report and the partnership between ICMIF and UNDRR, Hilde Vernaillen, Chair of ICMIF and Chair of the Management Committee, P&V (Belgium) said: “ICMIF’s partnership with UNDRR seeks to freely share the work that our members are doing to prevent risk in a bid to inspire other insurers to follow their example. By reflecting on these 20 case studies, ICMIF and UNDRR have collaborated to synthesise this intelligence and create a best practice framework that any insurer could adopt.

Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction said: “The insurance industry, and particular the cooperative and mutual sector with its focus on resilience, innovation and community engagement, is uniquely placed to inform and lead such work. ICMIF has a long tradition of supporting countries to enhance national and local disaster risk reduction action; its engagement in the negotiations towards the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction led to the inclusion of clear references to the need for private and financial sector and the regulators in driving and implementing disaster risk reduction.”

One of the case studies features Netherlands-based insurer Achmea, led by Bianca Tetteroo. The case study presents the “BlueLabel” product which gives customers insights into their climate-related risks such as rain-induced flooding, other forms of flooding, heat stress and drought. The ultimate aim of BlueLabel is to encourage a proactive approach to preventing disasters, rather than providing recovery measures in the aftermath.

The Center for Agriculture and Rural Development Mutual Benefit Association (CARD MBA) is the largest mutual microinsurance provider in the Philippines with 83 percent of the market share, led by CEO May Dawat. CARD MBA is part of a group of companies promoting financial inclusion under the name CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI). CARD MRI’s Credit with Education Programme supports members with a budget of USD 2.1 million under a range of themes, including a risk reduction and resilience theme which helps build skills related to disaster preparedness, stress debriefing and conducting fire and earthquake drills.

Another case study features Folksam (Sweden), led by Ylva Wessén, and her mutual insurer is very much leading the way in terms of address climate change and disaster risk reduction. Folksam was one of the founding members of the UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance, an international group of over 30 institutional investors which have the goal of having net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in their investment portfolios by 2050. Through the Alliance, Folksam works to promote net-zero greenhouse gas emissions among the companies in its investment portfolios. Such efforts contribute to the reduction of future risks related to climate change.

Swiss ICMIF member La Mobilière, led by Michèle Rodoni, also features in the report. Since 2006, the cooperative insurer has donated around CHF 38 million for prevention/DRR projects to protect against natural hazards in Switzerland. La Mobilière provides project applicants with a checklist of success factors for flood protection including one related to long-term protection including emergency planning, new build/construction and land-use planning and zoning.

Danish ICMIF member LB Forsikring is led Anne Mette Toftegaard. LB Forsikring’s purpose is “Together we make insurance redundant” and the mutual insurer works with members and partner organisations to see how they can prevent accidents and damage which would normally lead to claims. The goal is to invest the savings made by this work in even further efforts in prevention. One example of LB Forsikring’s work in risk prevention and mitigation is to address the challenge of water leaks and damage in policyholders’ homes.

Discover more case studies highlighting the great work by ICMIF members in disaster risk reduction by visiting the new ICMIF Prevention Hub.

The United Nations’ Observance of International Women’s Day will take place online on 8 March 2022 from 10.00am – 11.30am EST (3.00pm to 4.30pm GMT). Join the event on UN Web TV.

Those joining the UN event are invited to do so wearing the colour green, the colour for IWD 2022.


For member-only strategic content on the cooperative/mutual insurance sector, ICMIF members have exclusive access to a range of online resources through the ICMIF Knowledge Hub.

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