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Debating Development Policy

by David

The students of the Centre for Rural Development in Berlin organize a popular discussion series once a year. It tackles urgent controversies in development policy and draws a diverse audience of hundreds of people. This year, our principal investigator Birgit was invited as an expert on climate risk insurance, but ended up not being able to go and sending me instead. As I had not been part of a panel discussion before and was feeling rather ignorant about several aspects of the topic at hand, I traveled to the capital with mixed feelings. Luckily, everything went fine and I actually had a great experience.

There were three further guests on the podium. Mr. Hess, a representative of GIZ, the German Corporation for International Cooperation, argued that novel insurance programs were clearly a good thing and should quickly be rolled out to more people across the global south. Mr. Herbold of major reinsurance company Munich Re, in turn, explained some of the technical intricacies of insurance and did not send a strong political message, given that the private sector’s main interest is obviously to generate profit. Speaking from a different perspective, Ms. Minninger, an activist with protestant NGO Bread for the World, was all about the political responsibility of industrialized countries. This left me with the role of the cautious scholar who claims that we need to build more robust knowledge on the likely effects of such insurance schemes first, an insight that had emerged from our work in POLISES.

Even though the debate went on for a total of four hours, it hardly ever became boring or repetitive thanks to a well-prepared team of young moderators, an attentive audience that asked pointed questions, and the combination of four different, but complementary points of view. Climate insurance definitely remains a complex issue that deserves continued attention in the future.

Video recordings of the (German-language) event, in addition to a briefing paper compiled by the organizers, should be made available on this website shortly.

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