The Willis Research Network (WRN), part of Willis Group Holdings Limited, the global insurance broker, today announced that 10 leading scientific institutions from the UK and New Zealand have joined the network, deepening the integration of public science with the risk and re/insurance sectors to confront the challenges of natural hazards and extreme events.
The addition of these world-renowned institutions reinforces the network’s position as the largest partnership between academia and the re/insurance industry, and marks a major expansion in the network’s ability to respond to the needs of the international re/insurance and risk sectors via research, expertise, applications and data.
It is expected that the expanded research capabilities of the WRN will have broad use in the public and private sectors beyond the insurance industry, as governments, populations and businesses confront the challenges of living with climate change and natural hazards.
The following 10 institutions have become associate members of the WRN (a description of their risk and re/insurance-related collaboration interests appears in brackets):
- British Geological Survey (geological risks, groundwater flooding)
- Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (flooding, pollution)
- UK Met Office (climate and weather risk research, climate forecasting services)
- National Centre of Earth Observation (remotes sensing, satellite data and imagery)
- National Centre of Atmospheric Science (climate and weather risk research)
- National Oceanography Centre (tropical cyclones, tsunami, uncertainty)
- Ordnance Survey (geographic data, geospatial analysis and communication)
- Plymouth Marine Laboratory (marine pollution, aquaculture)
- Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory (storm surge, sea level rise)
- GNS Science, New Zealand (Asia-Pacific geo hazards)
Seven of these institutions are affiliated with the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), the UK’s main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. This is further evidence of the growing role and influence of public science on the wider economy and financial decision-making, WRN officials said.
The three other organisations: Ordnance Survey, UK Met Office, and GNS Science, New Zealand, highlighted their own reasons for joining the WRN:
Vanessa Lawrence CB, CEO, Ordnance Survey said, “Ordnance Survey is delighted to now be a collaborative member and contributor to the Willis Research Network, which is leading the way in research and innovation within the insurance and reinsurance sector. With more and more insurers now taking advantage of geographic information to underpin their decision-making, I believe Ordnance Survey has a very active role to play.”
Professor Julia Slingo, Chief Scientist, UK Met Office, commented, “The Met Office is delighted to join the Willis Research Network and to have the opportunity to contribute to the excellent work that the Network is doing to bring the best science to the insurance industry. Our membership in the WRN fits perfectly with our mission to make sure that everyone, everywhere, has access to the best weather and climate information that we can provide. As we push ahead with developing the UK Climate Service, we know that interacting with the insurance sector is crucial for ensuring that we enable the industry to manage its risks effectively. Being part of the WRN helps us to fulfil that goal and I’m really excited, personally, to have the opportunity to work again within the Network.”
Andrew King, Section Manager, Active Landscapes at GNS Science, New Zealand, said, “GNS Science, New Zealand is pleased and privileged to join the Willis Research Network as its most distant outpost. GNS sees many potential synergies between the earthquake, volcanology, landslide and tsunami modelling-and-loss evaluation that we do in New Zealand and South East Asia and the work of other Network members, some of whom are already forming into productive collaborative efforts. Being based in New Zealand, the distance from potential collaborative partnerships was of concern but web-based communication is currently adequate and the complementary university-to- research institute relationships appear to be providing additional strengths to both sectors through the Network. We at GNS Science look forward to more complete participation in the Network activities and possibly hosting a suitable Willis Fellow in the relatively near future.”
Welcoming the 10 new members into the Network, Rowan Douglas, Managing Director, Willis Re and Chairman of the Willis Research Network, said, “We have had the enormous pleasure and privilege of working with most of these world-leading institutions for some time. Collectively, they are a mighty force and are bringing major improvements to the understanding and evaluation of natural hazard risks in our sector. We are delighted to welcome them into the WRN where we hope they will enjoy even greater collaboration with our worldwide membership and international insurance and reinsurance industry partners.”
The Willis Research Network (WRN) is focused on evaluating the frequency, severity and impact of major catastrophes – from flooding to hurricanes and earthquakes – and seeks to help society at local and global levels manage these risks and share the costs of these events via public and private sector approaches. To achieve this mission, Willis has teamed up with 32 leading institutions across a full range of disciplines from atmospheric science and climate statistics, to geography, hydrology and seismology, to assess the impacts on the environment via engineering, exposure analysis and Geographic Information Systems. Additional information can be found at www.willisresearchnetwork.com