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Speeches & Transcripts November 25, 2019

Speech by Mara K. Warwick at the World Bank Catastrophe Bond Singapore Exchange Listing Ceremony

Mara K. Warwick

World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand

25 November 2019, Singapore Exchange

As Prepared for Delivery


Good morning to all.

Disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation are critically important to achieving the World Bank’s goal of eliminating poverty and promoting shared prosperity. We have been working closely with the Philippine government to help strengthen the country’s resilience against natural disasters, a task that has grown in urgency as it and other countries in the region face the accelerating effects of climate change. The Philippines is highly vulnerable to adverse natural events that threaten its recent achievements in poverty reduction.

Across its 7,641 islands, the country is exposed to multiple hazards including typhoons, earthquakes, flooding, storm surges, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and landslides. Seventy-four percent of the population is vulnerable to these natural hazards.

Poor families suffer the most from these calamities because they often depend on disaster-vulnerable livelihoods, like farming and fishing, and they live in unsafe areas, like mountainsides and coastal zones. They are less able to secure their resources and homes, and therefore lose more when disasters strike.

Supporting disaster risk resilience and climate change adaption in the Philippines is a critical part of our work in the country. This cat bond complements a suite of diverse financial instruments and programs for enhancing resilience, allowing the Philippines to transfer natural disaster risks to the capital markets while enabling the authorities to respond quickly to the needs of citizens when calamities strike.

Since the cat bond does not depend on a loss assessment, which takes time to carry out, this financial instrument gives the Philippine government faster access to post-disaster funds that can support the life-saving work of emergency response and recovery.

The Cat Bond demonstrates once again, the Philippines’ remarkable capability to develop innovative financial solutions to mitigate for the impacts of extreme climate and weather-related events as well as major earthquakes.

We congratulate the government of the Philippines, for the successful launch of the catastrophe bond here at the Singapore Exchange.