We’re playing catch up on many fronts, but we must prioritise building resilience in three key areas: supply chains for essential goods and services, infrastructure in our cities and towns, and our emergency response.
There are bright spots and good examples of this already happening across the economy. In my work with clients at Pollination, I’ve seen many organisations using the science and data available to understand the physical risks that climate change poses to their business.
They develop line of sight to those risks at a granular level and often right along their supply chain, using the insights to build better, more resilient businesses.
In my work with clients at Pollination, I’ve seen many organisations using the science and data available to understand the physical risks that climate change poses to their business.
Take the example of a dairy company Pollination works with, that has undertaken detailed climate risk analysis. They have farm-by-farm analysis of the physical risks posed to their farms by events like drought, flood and fire. With that knowledge, they can invest at the farm level to mitigate the risks – in things like water saving technologies and flood measures – and they can make decisions about where they source their milk from in the first place.
The analysis follows its whole supply chain, including processing plants and its distribution network. It includes the warehouses and roads it relies on to get its milk and infant milk formula onto supermarket shelves. These insights guide the company’s planning and strategic decision making and make it a more resilient business – one that communities can rely on.
I joined major insurer Suncorp as a senior executive in 2008, two years after Cyclone Larry had wiped out the Queensland town of Innisfail. The town had been rebuilt using different building standards, and when Cyclone Yasi hit five years later, rebuild costs were halved and many of the houses were unscathed. That’s an example of resilience and changing of thinking in a forward sense. The town of Grantham rebuilt on higher ground after the 2011 floods is another example.
When we build back, we have a phenomenal opportunity to build back with resilience. Knowing that climate change is making fires and floods more frequent and extreme, what do we need to do to build back Lismore to withstand these kinds of events? There is an opportunity for Lismore to become a case study for resilience – we must rise to the opportunity.
The stark reality is that climate-fuelled, extreme weather events are the ‘new normal.’ It is our shared responsibility to be better prepared when they strike. Lives depend on it.
Geoff Summerhayes is Senior Advisor at Pollination and global leader in climate change financial risk regulation. He is a former executive board member of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and Chaired the UN Environment Program’s Sustainable Insurance Forum (SIF).