How can we better understand the way climate change is shaping extreme weather events? And how do we foster resilience around the world against these risks by applying modern technological solutions? These questions were at the core of the first edition of the Allianz Climate Risk Research Award.
Several dozen PhD candidates and post-doctoral researchers from 18 countries had applied for the award. The jury of six Allianz and external experts shortlisted four applicants to present their research at an award ceremony held on December 1 at the Allianz SE headquarters in Munich.
Allianz initiated the award to help improve society’s capacity to respond to the rising impact of climate change and to deal with associated uncertainties. “For years, we insurers have assessed future risks based on what happened in the past,” Amer Ahmed, the Chief Executive Officer of Allianz Reinsurance, said in his opening address at the ceremony. “Now, climate change is challenging this model. The past is no longer a good guide for the future.”
The finalists’ research spans a range of scientific approaches: from improving crop yield forecasts through a Big Data approach to the ethnographic study of resilience in Indonesian cities. And all want to see their work make a difference to real world issues.
The researchers were grateful for the exchange with representatives from all Allianz departments working on natural catastrophes: “I didn’t realize how much science and data analysis is already happening at insurance companies. There is a really high level of science here already, and I see the direct relation to the work that I am doing,” said finalist Elizabeth Tellman. “It’s great to present your work to an audience that might someday actually apply it in their work,” added finalist and first prize winner Viktor Roezer.
Erwin Nugraha was pleased to see that Allianz is recognizing the importance of societal understanding of resilience. “This award was a wonderful opportunity for me. Not only have I been able to network with the other candidates, I am also taking home ideas that will support the resilience work being done in my home country of Indonesia,” said Erwin.
While it was a competition – the four finalists received monetary awards ranging from 2,000 euros to 7,000 euros – collaboration and cooperation are central to the work. “I can definitely see myself using Elizabeth’s flood model for my crop yield forecast system,” said finalist Bernhard Schauberger. Jury member Dr. Ralf Ludwig, Chair of Geography and Geographical Remote Sensing at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, said: “We need to have an open dialogue on how climate change will impact society in the future, and this is an excellent platform to do so. I hope it continues!” And for Allianz? “We are eager to stay in touch with you all,” Amer Ahmed told the finalists. “Your work is very close to our business and we are eager to keep the conversation going.”
Plans for the next edition of the Allianz Climate Risk Research Award are already underway.