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Willis Research Network (WRN) Newsletter – Q4 2019

Corporate Risk Consulting|Property|Reinsurance
Climate Risk and Resilience|Insurer Solutions

December 19, 2019

In this winter newsletter, you will find a selection of topics showing the variety of research partnerships facilitated by the Willis Research Network (WRN).

As we prepare to leave 2019 behind, two themes with global reach stand out: an increasing need to accurately quantify the impact of a changing climate on industry and society; and managing human-driven threats in the modern world such as geopolitical risk and technology.

The conversation around climate has dominated headlines and popular discourse this year. Indeed, Oxford Dictionaries has declared 'climate emergency' the word of the year for 2019.  The WRN’s research portfolio has deep roots in earth, flood, weather and climate sciences, and a key development has been to link our research on physical risks to the work of our  Thinking Ahead Institute colleagues on sustainability in the investment industry.  In addition, our wider involvement in the Willis Towers Watson Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment (CCRI) will help develop new insights understanding to better understand the risk posed by climate change.

Two very recent publications by WRN partners highlight the growing importance of geopolitical risk. Willis Towers Watson and Oxford Analytica’s latest annual  Political Risk Survey Report outlines the increasing frequency and severity of losses caused by political risk. A new arrival in this year’s risk list is ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) shock. Meanwhile, the  Cambridge Global Risk Outlook 2020 highlights that social unrest is the risk which has advanced the most in rankings through 2019, with considerable impact on businesses and their supply chains.  Bringing these themes together we have been looking at the  confluence of climate and geopolitical risk, whilst the importance of technology and the opportunities innovation offers will be a key driver of research next year. 

These themes are at the core of the WRN programme, and I invite you to browse our recently published annual  brochure, which features some of our key partnerships and their achievements. 

We look forward to working more with you in 2020, and I would encourage you to reach out to any of the team to talk about how the Willis Research Network and our partnerships can support you.

Hélène Galy
Managing Director
Willis Research Network


Table of Contents


  1. 01

    WRN research fellows give testimony to Congress at the U.S. House of Representatives

    Scientists from Columbia University and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) were invited to testify to the Committee on Science, Space and Technology in September, in a hearing entitled “Understanding, forecasting and communicating extreme weather in a changing climate”. Click here to read more


  2. 02

    Impacts of climate change on flood risk

    New requirements from industry regulators have required companies in the UK insurance market to assess their risk related to climate change. Our experts at Newcastle University responded to the call and helped to develop answers and advice for our clients.  Click here to read more 


  3. 03

    A changing climate of risk and opportunity

    The reality of climate change is becoming clearer. The message from the scientific community has been consistent for many years, but new research continues to provide detail and greater understanding of extreme weather events. Greater alignment between the public and private sector on climate change is riding a wave of interest from the public on environmental issues.  Click here to read more


  4. 04

    AI and Emerging Business Models in Insurance

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) poses fundamental questions for the insurance industry. How do AI and other forces shape the insurance industry? Can AI be used defensively by incumbent firms or is it purely a disruptive force exploited by new entrants? Loughborough University and Willis Towers Watson are collaborating on research into the effects of AI on business models, and some answers to these questions are starting to emerge.  Click here to read more


  5. 05

    Geopolitical risk: and how experience of the battlefield might help the boardroom

    Geopolitical risk impacts all organizations (private and public) globally. Any analysis of geopolitical risk usually means a summary of the usual trouble spots of the world .However, geopolitical risk is now an immediate and potentially existential threat closer to home. General Sir Richard Shirreff, Former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, looks at how some of the hard-won experience of the military can help risk managers.  Click here to read more 


For more information

On any of the research above or other WRN projects, please get in touch with our team or visit our website.

  • Hélène Galy – WRN Director: For People risks, general enquiries and getting involved.
  • Stuart Calam – WRN Programme Director: Technology risks, general enquiries and getting involved.
  • Geoffrey Saville – WRN Senior Research Manager: For Weather and Climate related risks and flood risks.
  • Rosa Sobradelo – WRN Senior Research Manager: For seismic and volcanic risks.
  • Lucy Stanbrough – WRN Research Manager: For Emerging risks.
  • Setareh Mayel Afshar – WRN Marketing Coordinator: For general enquiries.
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