Insuring Natural Ecosystems as an Innovative Conservation Funding Mechanism: A Case Study on Coral Reefs

Swiss Re (June 2021)

Coral reefs are exceptional natural ecosystems. Not only do they provide direct and indirect employment for local communities, but they are key structures in local ecosystems, creating beaches and providing an important level of coastal protection against severe hurricanes and storms. The protection of reefs is of crucial importance for many coastal communities. In this article, the coral reef insurance mechanism that financially protects the coastal areas in the State of Quintana Roo, Mexico, is discussed. The authors explore why coral reefs are threatened and which ecosystem services they provide to humans, a crucial step in providing insurance coverage. Further, the authors show how technology has made insuring coral reefs a viable business proposition. Insurance can support conservation funding while it is a form of financial disaster risk management. Finally, the authors illuminate that the conditions bringing public and private sector actors together like in the case of Quintana Roo, Mexico, are not easily replicable; and more research and understanding will be needed to provide extensive coral reef coverage. Insurance manages residual disaster risk, but it is not a replacement for physical disaster risk management measures.