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Willis Towers Watson launches the Global Ecosystem Resilience Facility

Global insurance facility designed to strengthen the resilience of marine and terrestrial ecosystems and their communities

NEW YORK, March 09, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Willis Towers Watson, a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company, has developed the Global Ecosystem Resilience Facility (GERF), the first global insurance facility of its kind to provide innovative finance and risk management solutions to build the resilience of ecosystems and the communities they support. The GERF is being launched today at the Economist’s World Ocean Summit in Mexico by Willis Towers Watson CEO, John Haley.

Marine ecosystems are at risk, and damage to natural capital such as coral, mangroves and fisheries reduces its ability to protect the coastal communities, their economies and assets in developed and emerging countries. As more intense storms, floods, droughts, sea level rises, temperature increases, pollution and ocean acidification increase the vulnerability of coastal communities and threaten both lives and livelihoods, it is critical that the resilience of the environment that supports them is strengthened.

Drawing upon expertise across Willis Towers Watson with scientific partners and leading risk carriers, the GERF will play a unique role in responding to these growing risks by delivering powerful analytics, incentivising environmental stewardship and providing innovative insurance protection to mobilise development finance.

Initial work of the GERF focuses on the protection of ecosystems such as coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses in the Caribbean to support resilience of fishing communities at threat from hurricanes and coral decline.

Willis Towers Watson, with Cefas and the University of York, are mapping marine ecosystems, assessing risk exposure, and developing risk and value models for coral reefs in Grenada and the wider Caribbean. The GERF will then incentivise continued ecosystem stewardship and asset maintenance through risk finance. Insurance programs will be structured to encourage risk understanding, assessment, and the coordination and pre-planning of swift post-event recovery. Robust disaster risk management and contingency planning can be incorporated to protect the vulnerable against events that are beyond their control. The GERF will facilitate risk pooling to help regions bridge the post-disaster funding gap and provide a targeted, structured response to coastal communities and infrastructure, ecosystems and fisheries in particular.

Speaking in Mexico, John Haley, CEO of Willis Towers Watson, said: “The Global Ecosystem Resilience Facility is such an important initiative in helping to support the resilience of coastal and island communities to climate pressures. Dependence on the blue economy makes them particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate related threats and other risks, and the goal of this ground breaking initiative is to help provide greater stability, and ultimately greater prosperity, to these communities.”

Rowan Douglas, CEO of Willis Towers Watson’s Capital, Science & Policy Practice, added: “The GERF acknowledges that there are two key aspects driving changes in the risk environment: human activity and natural processes. The facility addresses both aspects; communities build resilience through sustainable practices under their control, and disaster risk finance protects against events outside of their control.

“The Global Ecosystem Resilience Facility allows for the financing of increased resilience at a large scale. This global approach is key to building a sustainable blue economy and protecting coastal communities from climate impacts. We are proud to lead the way in the development of innovative mechanisms to extend financial protection to ecosystems and to incentivise sustainable growth.”

The financing element of the GERF focuses on risk transfer and project finance. The risk transfer element looks specifically at risk pooling, and the project finance element examines the suitability and feasibility of a variety of financial instruments including catastrophe bonds, resilience bonds, grants, and loans.

The GERF will build local capacity for climate mitigation and adaptation while providing a facility to finance increased resilience at a global scale. For the first time, this global approach will be combined with the regional frameworks required for governments to support the management of the marine environment and sustainable development of the blue economy.

About Willis Towers Watson
Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ:WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson 40,000 employees serving more than 140 countries. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas — the dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential. Learn more at

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