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To stay sustainable: the insurance industry needs an urgent paradigm shift!

April 2023

Mr. Praveen Gupta continues to pursue his passion of exploring, learning and sharing from the exciting inter-sections between Climate Crisis, Diversity, Governance, Risk and Tech. He essays his passionate views through his blog:

My General Insurance Council article as featured on the LinkedIn reproduced by the Insurance Times.

Regulators must realise economy is a fully owned subsidiary of ecology

Deccan Herald: March 30, 2023

Honoured to co-author this Op-ed for the Deccan Herald with Dr. Raghunathan V. He was for many years an independent director on the Board of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). The Op-ed is an outcome of my response to “Comments on Consultation Paper on ESG Disclosures, Ratings and Investing” – invited by the SEBI.

Do we accept that the root cause of the biggest existential crisis – the Climate Emergency – lies in the way we treat Nature? Sir Partha Dasgupta of Cambridge calls nature a “blind spot” in economics. The Stern review warns “Climate change could lead to the greatest market failure ever.” Isn’t that the underlying reason for the SEBI initiative? Taking the first step towards a metrics to address this emergency has some attendant problems – apart from no reference to Nature.

One, our fragmented regulatory ecosystem – with each financial services regulator waking up to the climate challenge at their respective pace. Two, what Dr. Kim Schumacher, PhD, CEnv alludes to as ‘Competence Greenwashing’. How do we ensure that the people charged with ensuring robust disclosures, ratings and transparency – are indeed equipped for it? Just when the world is awash with shades of greenwash. Three, as Clinical Professor Alison Taylor says: “The problem with treating climate change as an auditing task is that you end up with a bunch of auditors signing off on destruction, placing mindless faith in certification schemes”. Needless to mention lack of reference to Ethics.

Can we afford to have a low touch regulatory environment knowing what is staring at us? Particularly when India is one of the most vulnerable countries to the climate crisis. Four, deficiencies in the International Sustainability Standards Board’s (ISSB) approach to double materiality that Bill Baue has been valiantly reminding us about from time to time. It is not just about impact of climate change on the balance sheets of businesses, but how businesses contribute to climate woes that needs to be disclosed.

“A Fellow’s insight: Insurers play a key role in the transformation process”.

Interview by Chartered Insurance Institute:

Ensuring the Success of Solar – India’s Green Energy Transition

March 24, 2023

The Economic Times Energyworld Solar Power Congress 2023′:The Role of Policy Measures and Financial Institutions towards India’s Energy Transition Goals.

Honoured to be invited by the host – The Economic Times Energyworld Solar Power Congress 2023, last Friday. In this resulting Op-Ed for illuminem, I share my thoughts from a panel discussion on ‘The Role of Policy Measures and Financial Institutions towards India’s Energy Transition Goals’.

Starved of steady and reliable fund flow into renewable energy – to ensure the decarbonisation of our economy – what are the possible options? Hitting 450 to 500 GW by 2030 requires upwards of USD 500 bn. To achieve the Green Alpha, can we leverage Blended Finance synergies (will a fragmented financial services architecture converge?); Solar Cooperatives (leveraging the genius of cooperative movement). Is an ‘Amul of Solar Power’ within our reach? Diversity & Inclusion (unleashing the women power – already proving their mettle on the selling side in some of the states – to the generation side, as well?).

All this and a lot more…

“Sometimes evolution feeds on the weirdest mutations”: Boards powered by the Gaia!

March 8th, 2023

Howsoever wishful this may sound. There could not be a better day to wish that the #Gaia empowers us with the collective wisdom – to make the much-desired and long overdue course correction.

If only we were to realise that ‘’the economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the environment’’. And that “Climate change could lead to the greatest market failure ever.” If only we had the luxury of “What would #Nature ask the business to do?”

The insurance industry needs an urgent paradigm shift: Climate Crisis

General Insurance Council of India Newsletter

February 15, 2023

Extracting the insurance industry out of its comfort zone – the business as usual (BAU) mode and its silos – but for much of Europe remains a major challenge. The inertia percolates from top down. The International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) has ‘outsourced’ the climate challenge to the UNEP FI. As the climate jargon swells on a daily basis; CO2 levels, pollution and biodiversity losses compound – the only assured outcome is tipping point of Planetary boundaries.

As global temperatures rise more and more of what can be insured becomes uninsurable. As risk carriers – insurers are also investors in physical assets (predominantly but not exclusively fossil fuels) face transition risk thereby likely to become stranded assets. Dreaming of profitable growth and delighting the customer with this backdrop will be a mirage.

I am thankful to the General Insurance Council of India for having invited me to pen a ‘short piece’ on the subject for its maiden newsletter. Sincerely hoping that the messaging howsoever simplistic – will not fall on deaf ears. That India’s economy must pursue a decarbonised trajectory is a foregone conclusion. The urgency is compelling if we must attain resilience to face existential climate threats – unleashed by our actions.

Here is a stark reminder from my friend – renowned conservationist Bittu Sahgal: “My generation has left you a world with fewer choices and greater risks. But it’s still a beautiful planet…”.

Colonialism to Climate Crisis: Indigenous wisdom to the fore

My column for the Illuminem: February 7, 2023

Brutalization of Americas – its land and the indigenous peoples – was the worst form of colonizing. Amitav Ghosh’s brilliant novel ‘The Nutmeg’s Curse’ is a graphic account of how all these actions became a major trigger for the Climate Crisis that we are today enmeshed into.

I pick recent news stories of four Native American Tribes (Canada and the US) which are early rays of hope. Hoping and wishing that the indigenous peoples will get back into the Stewardship of Nature. Reviving “the belief that spirit existed in all matter”. A belief that the colonizer tried very hard to erase. The only hope for getting us out of the mess we are in.

But then this is not just about the Americas alone, anymore. Ghosh reminds us: “Much, if not most, of humanity today lives as colonialists once did – viewing the Earth as though it were an inert entity that exists primarily to be exploited and profited from, with the aid of technology and science…”.

Can we think seven generations ahead when making decisions? Chief Oren Lyons, a Native American Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan tells us: “In our way of life, in our government, with every decision we make, we always keep in mind the Seventh Generation to come. It’s our job to see that the people coming ahead, the generations still unborn, have a world no worse than ours – and hopefully better…”.

“Would that we consider those unborn generations as we trample our forests and pollute our skies in the name of progress and our present-day entitlement”? Asks Wayne Dyer.


ChatGPT is here: An opportunity or a threat?

Chartered Insurance Institute blog: February 3, 2023

As a long time follower of the UK market – I commence this piece with the ‘tech nudge’ from ‘Direct Line’. Fast forward it all to the arrival of internet, big data and ethical issues. Talking about ethics I bring in the hawk-eyed industry expert – Duncan Minty – who continues to challenge insurers/ regulators with many a profound issues.

I end this with an element of ‘wishful’ thinking wrt the just born but extra precocious ChatGPT. It can be multi-edged. If things do work well, ChatGPT may even facilitate potential solution/s for addressing climate change. Something that the insurance industry continues to struggle with. And finally, insurers may have no excuse to ignore the customer?!

Climate change and changing insurance needs

Mint: January 30, 2023

Co-authord with Abhishek Bondia.

Looking after our homes and health was never so important. Unfortunately, we have some of the most polluted cities in the world. Delhi generally tops the list. Adverse natural forces have been unleased due to #biodiversityloss#pollution and #climatechange#women and #children are the most vulnerable segments. Talking about Delhi, Dwarka residents coming together to address subsidence is an inspiring story (‘PS‘).

Glad to note that Abhishek Bondia puts timely spotlight particularly on “the fast pace of climate change” and that “Delhi suffers from extremely poor #airquality for extended periods of time”. Given “the threat climate change is posing to human health is no longer theoretical but a very current, real, and multifaceted menace”, HMX – Harvard Medical School has decided to introduce Climate Change into its MD curriculum.

Professional advice, not just in the corporate commercial classes but #personalinsurance as well, can make all the difference.


Honoured to be the second most read in Environmental Sustainability!’s rating for 2022