Unique research project to identify sustainable measures that can prevent damage from extreme weather events

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If will contribute with claims data and insights on how floods and leaks most often occur.

– The aim is to identify concrete climate adaptation measures that are feasible for individuals and housing associations but that also are sustainable from a climate perspective, says Philip Thörn, Head of Sustainability at If.

Approximately 70 percent of all water damage occurs during the summer months when there are many intense rains that are difficult to predict. Weather-related water damage has also been the largest cost for Norwegian insurance companies over the past ten years. Many urban environments and coastal communities are particularly vulnerable to floodings from rivers and intense precipitation.

The purpose of the project “Sustainable insurance and climate change adaptation” is to identify sustainable measures that can prevent damages caused by extreme rainfalls and downpours.

– This is the first time we are looking so specifically at concrete measures against damages after extreme rainfalls, which is also placed in a larger climate context. We need to gather facts about which measures are cost-effective for individuals and housing associations but also in a broader and longer-term perspective, where we look at climate impact and emissions over time, says Sofie Waage Skjeflo, project manager at CICERO.

More evidence-based advice

For If, it is about being able to provide even better and research-based advice to customers. The target group is homeowners and housing associations facing the challenge of preparing for natural damages in the form of downpours.

– Research clearly shows that the risks of extreme weather events, such as downpours, are increasing in a changing climate. This, in turn, increases the risk of damages to buildings and houses. We believe that increased collaboration and knowledge sharing among different stakeholders will be crucial for the success of society’s climate adaptation work. It requires shifting the focus from problems to solutions and from planning to actual implementation. The hope is that through this project, we can provide even more concrete advice to our customers and contribute to effective climate adaptation work in Sweden and Norway, says Philip Thörn, Head of Sustainability at If.

Part of the project is to identify measures that protect against damages from extreme rainfalls, which can range from individual homeowners’ efforts such as installation of backflow valves and up-to-date drainage, but also targeted at housing associations, including green-blue solutions, as green infrastructure helps manage high water flows.

Other concrete measures that may be included in the study are vegetated roofs that retain water and various types of vegetated beds.

– Drainage and runoff are central issues, but there may be new ways to involve nature and recreation so that water has somewhere to go. Paved areas without drainage are a risk factor, and we see that densely built-up areas and cities are particularly vulnerable, says Sofie Waage Skjeflo, project manager at CICERO.

The project will last for one year, and the results will be presented in 2024 in a report with new recommendations and conclusions for the most sustainable climate adaptation measures that homeowners and housing associations can take.

Proactive and preventive focus

Using life cycle analysis, the project will assess climate adaptation measures based on their impact on greenhouse gas emissions and from a personal financial perspective.

– Climate change will impose significant stress on society. We will inevitably live with weather situations that will damage and destroy properties to a greater extent in the future. This means that we must do everything we can to prevent and counteract damages, while all stakeholders – both policyholders and insurers – must work proactively and preventively to minimize and optimize how we use resources to address damage and losses. This project will develop methods and tools to systematically use life cycle analysis strategies to successfully manage and preserve common resources, with a focus on minimizing the climate impact of planned actions, says Johan Holmqvist, researcher and project manager at IVL.

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