The Finance Innovation Festival took place at IIASA on May 23-24. The hybrid event featured 44 speakers in plenary and discussion sessions and attracted 119 participants.

The Finance Innovation Festival at IIASA - jointly organized by IIASA, CMCC (Fondazione Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici), and ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability), who are partners in the Horizon Europe project Naturance - offered a unique opportunity to discuss and develop innovative ideas for promoting the financing of Nature-based Solutions (NbS) through insurance. The Festival also launched the Naturethon initiative for citizen engagement in the adoption of Nature-based Solutions. To learn more and participate, visit the Naturethon website.

The Festival featured a keynote speech by IIASA Director General John Schellenhuber. He outlined the importance of buildings to solving the climate crises and laid out a plan for furthering the New European Bauhaus as a way to move this solution forward. He also noted how insurance will also need to play a role in this movement. The first day also included keynotes from Stephen Hart from the European Investment Bank and Fleur van Ooststroom-Brummel from the European Commission. They highlighted the need for real policy change that will be needed in order to bring private finance into Nature-based Solutions.

The keynotes were followed by presentations of the completed first round of finance and policy Innovation Labs that took place within the Naturance Project. Max Tesselaar presented the Innovation Lab completed by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (The Free University of Amsterdam), which looked at “Methods to quantify flood risk reduction and co-benefits of Nature-based Solutions in the Netherlands,” and was conducted in close partnership with the Dutch Association of Insurers. JoAnne Linnerooth-Bayer of IIASA presented the next Innovation Lab, which focused on “Harnessing insurance to promote Nature-based Solutions for wildfire risk management.” She demonstrated the different ways that insurance can enable NbS strategies for reducing wildfire risks, from insuring natural capital to de-risking NbS. She also highlighted that not all of the ways that insurers can enable NbS are currently feasible under existing business models. Swenja Surminski of London School of Economics and Marsh McLennan presented the final Innovation Lab on “Investing in natural flood management in urban areas in the UK.” The afternoon sessions consisted of a World Café, as well as a poster session that served to pitch new ideas for the next round of Innovation Labs. The poster session gave participants an opportunity to contribute their ideas while the Labs are still at an early stage, allowing them to shape what the next round of Labs will look like.

On May 24, keynote talks featured several Naturance project partners, including PIISA, CLIMABOROUGH, and INVEST4NATURE. In addition to the academic perspective, there was also a panel that included a number of industry representatives from insurers and insurance associations. A second round of World Café provided another opportunity for participants to get to know one another better, and express their views on a number of different topics surrounding insurance and NbS. The Festival closed with a panel of the Naturance Knowledge Network Champions, who host regular meetings with the Naturance Knowledge Networks - which are groups of players involved in insurance - with the aim to exchange ideas at the intersection of insurance and nature. Finally, the Naturethon initiative was introduced in order to carry the work of the Festival forward and out into the broader world.

To learn more about the Naturance project, visit the project website, subscribe to the project newsletter, and follow us on social media (@naturance-project on LinkedIn and @naturance_eu on X/Twitter).

23.05.2024 | Finance Innovation Festival


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