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24 OCT 2008

Zurich conference presents Southeastern and Central Europe Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility to the countries of the region

ZURICH/SARAJEVO – A conference discussing the potential of establishing the Southeastern and Central Europe Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (SECE-CRIF), organized by the World Bank, the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Secretariat, and the UN Secretariat of International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR), was held today in Zurich, Switzerland.

The conference, hosted by the World Bank with the assistance of the Swiss Government, was designed to provide the participants with updates and feedback on the SECE-CRIF programme and to explore countries’ interest in becoming SECE-CRIF members.

“The establishment of the SECE-CRIF will make a visible difference in the lives of citizens and small businesses as the commercial insurance market in Southeast and Central Europe does not offer affordable and dependable insurance coverage to protect individuals and small businesses against material loss arising from natural catastrophes”, said RCC Secretary General Hido Biscevic, while speaking at the event. “This unique facility can play an important role in reducing the level of economic and fiscal exposure to natural disasters in our part of Europe.”

In this context, the World Bank, the UN/ISDR and the RCC Secretariat have been facilitating the creation of the SECE-CRIF. The initiative has received financial support from the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Government of Switzerland.

“The proposed facility will be established as a regional catastrophe risk pool owned by countries and managed by the private sector”, said the World Bank Country Director for Central Europe and the Baltic Countries, Orsalia Kalantzopoulos. “The facility would greatly contribute to the development of a catastrophe insurance market in Southeastern and Central Europe and could reduce government post-disaster budgetary outlays on reconstruction.”

The conference was opened by the Minister and Deputy Head of Economic Cooperation and Development of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, Werner Gruber, with introductory remarks by the RCC Secretary General Biscevic, the World Bank Country Director Kalantzopoulos, and the Director of the UN/ISDR, Salvano Briceno.

The event brought together senior government officials from Prime Ministers’ offices, ministries of finance, foreign affairs, and natural disasters, as well as representatives of the national insurance regulatory commissions.

The next meeting in the CRIF format of the potential members will take place in mid-December 2008, in order to sign the Facility Shareholder Agreement and launch the programme.

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