Who we are

MCII is a leading innovation laboratory on climate change and insurance. MCII is recognized among governments and policy processes like UNFCCC, ISDR´s Hyogo Framework, and in humanitarian work on climate risk management. MCII is a node among practitioners and scholars for innovative uses of risk transfer tools to manage climate risks. MCII develops innovations in two ways:

MCII pioneers concepts through its extensive expert network advocating for new ways of applying insurance to complement risk management and adaptation. Secondly, MCII tests risk transfer tools in “lighthouse” projects and provides proof of concept and implementation models for further replication. MCII feeds its results back to governments and decision makers, affecting regulations and enhancing international aspiration and standards. To provide this cutting-edge professional expertise, MCII works closely with private sector insurers and insurance associations, governments and regulators, delegates to UN policy processes, UN agencies and regional bodies, and scholars & practitioners of risk management and adaptation.

Soenke Kreft (Executive Director)

Mr. Soenke Kreft leads MCII’s work on both feeding back insurance-related expertise into international policy making processes, as well as continuing the implementation of innovative ideas on how to make climate risk insurance work for poor and vulnerable people at risk from climate change. He is a forerunner in international climate policy, having led the Climate Policy Team at the German NGO Germanwatch for 3 years, which allowed him to provide major inputs to the Paris Agreement (UNFCCC) and also contribute to other initiatives, such as the G7 InsuResilience. Prior to his role as Executive Director, Soenke was familiar with MCII for many years; he participated in the initiation of the first phase of MCII’s project “Climate Risk Adaptation and Insurance in the Caribbean” in 2011 and was responsible for a large capacity development and agenda setting programme with the Least Developed Countries group on climate-induced Loss and Damage which in turn provided the rational to launch the UNFCCC loss and damage thematic work and subsequent initiatives such as G7 InsuResilience.

See Sönke's profile on the Opens external link in new windowUNU-EHS website.

MCII's Executive Board Members

Peter Hoeppe (MCII Chair)

[retired] Head Geo Risks Research/Corporate Climate Centre, Munich Re

Prof. Hoeppe joined the Munich Reinsurance Company in 2004. He was appointed Head of the Geo Risks Research Department in January 2005 and retired from his post in 2017.

Before joining Munich Re Prof. Hoeppe has worked in different institutes at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich and as a post doc at Yale University (USA). Most time of his university career Prof. Hoeppe spent at the Insitute of Bioclimatology and Applied Meteorology and  the Institute of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. His academic education is in meteorology (Masters and PhD) and human biology (PhD).

His main areas of research are effects of atmospheric processes (heat/cold, UV radiation, air pressure fluctuations) and air pollutants (ozone, particles) on humans and the general assessment of environmental risks.

Prof. Hoeppe is scientific member of many scientific societies, from 1999 to 2002 he has been the President of the International Society of Biometeorolgy. He has held different expert functions in WHO and WMO. In 2007 Dr. Hoeppe has been appointed member of the Global Warming Advisory Board of the Bavarian State Government and Chair of the “Finance-Forum: Climate Change” of the high-tech Strategy of the German Federal Government. In July 2008 he has been awarded the Bavarian State Medal on merits for the environment. 

Christoph Bals (MCII Vice-Chair)

Executive Director Policy, Germanwatch

Christoph Bals is the Executive Director Policy of the NGO Gemanwatch, of which he is a founding member (1991). He was among the initiators of European Business Council for Sustainable Energy, the pro-Kyoto-campaign "e-mission55", and the initiative for climate consicous flying "atmosfair". He has been on the board of the "Foundation for Sustainability" since 1998. He is one of the three NGO-representatives in the German government's working group on emission trading since 1998; and a member of the advisory group of most ambitious German green investment index (NAI); in 2003 and 2004 he was in the National Advisory Committee for the Renewables 2004. Bals headed different successful campaigns (Rio Konkret, Climate Responsibility Campaign).

Armin Haas (MCII Treasurer)

Co-leader of the Economics & Cultures program at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam (IASS)

Armin Haas is co-leader of the Economics & Cultures program at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam (IASS), and leads the research line Integrated Risk Governance of the Global Climate Forum (GCF). At IASS his main research focus concerns the economic, ecological and social sustainability of the financial system. At GCF, his research focuses on innovative approaches for the management of large-scale complex uncertainties. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Karlsruhe, Germany. Before joining IASS, he worked as senior scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and headed the research group Bayesian Risk Management.

Apart from being a co-founder of MCII, Armin Haas founded ‘TheCompensators’ together with colleagues from PIK, to reduce personal CO2 emissions via the ETS.

More Information can be found at his personal Opens external link in new windowIASS website.

Joanne Linnerooth-Bayer

Head of Risk Vulnerability Programme, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

Joanne Linnerooth-Bayer is leader of the Risk and Vulnerability Program at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria.

Her current interest is global change and the risk of catastrophic events, and she is investigating options for improving the financial management of catastrophic risks in transition and developing countries. She and her colleagues have carried out extensive research on this topic and are developing options for the donor communities, as well as the climate adaptation community, to support insurance and other forms pro-active disaster assistance.

Other affiliations include the faculty of Beijing Normal University and the Science Committee of the Chinese Academy of Disaster Reduction and Emergency Management.

Thomas Loster

Chairman, Munich Re Foundation

Thomas R. Loster, a geographer, is the chairman of the Munich Re Foundation.

In his work with the foundation, he addresses many major global challenges related to environmental and climate change, such as water as a resource and risk factor, population growth and disaster prevention as well as preparing people who are exposed to risk situations or providing support for developed and developing countries. Mr. Loster is an insurance expert for different products from macro-scale disaster insurance down to microinsurance. For 16 years he was with Munich Re’s Geoscience Research Group where he was in charge of issues such as weather perils, climate change and climate policy as well as statistical analysis of worldwide natural catastrophes and trend analyses. Mr. Loster is a member of the German National Committee of the “UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development” and a member of the “German Council for Sustainable Development”.

Aaron Oxley

Executive Director, RESULTS UK

Aaron has been working in International Development for over a decade, primarily in microfinance, building organizations in the developing world to provide the poor with access to financial services including savings, loans and, most recently, three years with MicroEnsure focussing on microinsurance products including weather indexed crop microinsurance.

Originally starting as a volunteer, Aaron has been working with RESULTS for the last 10 years. In 2005 he joined the Board and in 2009 was appointed Executive Director. RESULTS works to empower ordinary people to learn about International Development issues and to become politically active, using their voices as citizens through lobbying and the media to create the public and political will to bring about the end of poverty.

Simone Ruiz-Vergote

Managing Director, Allianz Climate Solutions

Simone Ruiz-Vergote is heading the Climate Advisory & Policy team at Allianz Climate Solutions GmbH (ACS), the Allianz Center of Competence for renewable energy and climate change with its headquarter in Munich, Germany. ACS offers specialized consulting, insurance and investment expertise, serving other Allianz entities as well as external customers with its risk analysis, investment and insurance expertise.
At ACS, she is responsible for implementing the climate strategy for Allianz, advising individual Allianz units on risks and opportunities associated with climate change, and directly engages with business associations, academic institutions and policy makers regarding the intersections of climate change and the financial sector.
In her previous position, Simone closely monitored regulations on climate change, energy and financial markets in Brussels for a period of five years. This engagement started with an employment at Businesseurope - the leading European business association – followed by the position of EU head at the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), where she was responsible for advising companies on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. She started her career at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt in 2006.

Paul Kovacs

Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR)

Paul Kovacs is founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction at Western University. The Institute is a world-class, multi-disciplinary research centre based in Canada working with the insurance industry to identify best practices for society to adapt to climate extremes and build resilience to natural hazards.

Some of Paul’s international contributions includes work since 1996 as a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; a member of the World Meteorology Organization’s Society and Economic Research and Applications Working Group (SERA); a contributor to UNESCO’s International Flood Initiative; host of the 2014 annual conference of the International Society for Integrated Disaster Risk Management (IDRiM); contributor to the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR); and contributor to the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative.

Jakob Rhyner

Vice-Rector for United Nations University in Europe and the Director of the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS).

As the only Vice-Rector outside of the UNU headquarters in Japan, Prof. Rhyner supports the worldwide institutional development of UNU, particularly in Europe and Africa. In his role as the Director of UNU-EHS, Prof. Rhyner provides the strategic direction for all research and educational activities of the institute which is focused on risks and adaptation related to environmental hazards and global change. Prof. Rhyner is a professor at the Agricultural Faculty of the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University in Bonn and he holds PhD in Theoretical Physics from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich.A national of Switzerland, Prof. Rhyner speaks fluent English, German, French and advanced Swedish and Norwegian.

MCII's Project Office in Bonn

Kehinde Balogun (Project Associate)

Kehinde Balolgun's overarching professional goal is to promote humanity and solidarity through the use of insurance to manage disaster risks in the face of climate change impacts. She moved from South Africa to Bonn, Germany in 2012 and holds a Bachelors Degree in Business Management from the National University of Lesotho (NUL) and a Masters Degree in Disaster Risk Management at the University of the Free State (UFS). Kehinde’s zeal to help vulnerable people and communities led her to work as a researcher and volunteer during her studies for causes such as HIV/AIDS, youth capacity development and disaster risk reduction. This made the move to work at the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human security (UNU-EHS) a natural fit.

At UNU-EHS, Kehinde works on topics such as disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, and is an expert on slow-onset losses and damages and their impacts on vulnerable populations. In this capacity she provides inputs and submissions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) policy discussions. Through her engagement at the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative she presents and contributes to various international events that focus on the nexus between disaster risk management and climate change adaptation through the value of insurance.

As a Nigerian and having had experiences with vulnerable communities in Africa, Kehinde is passionate about continuing to work on the Advancing Climate Risk Insurance plus (ACRI+) project that focuses on designing Integrated Climate Risk Management (ICRM) concepts, gathering experiences from international organizations on ICRM and feeding lessons learned into international policy discussions to help build climate-and-disaster resilient communities in the global south.

See Kehinde's profile on the Opens external link in new windowUNU-EHS website.

Samet Sevket Bulut (Project Assistant)

Samet Sevket Bulut works as a Project Assistant at MCII and focuses on climate risk adaptation and climate risk management. He contributes to the “Climate Risk Adaptation and Insurance in the Caribbean” (CRAIC) project that is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). The project seeks to address climate change, adaptation and vulnerability by promoting weather-index based insurance as a risk management instrument in the Caribbean.

Samet holds a BSc in European Public Health from Maastricht University where he focused on the nexus between health sciences, health care, and international politics. Within his Bachelor programme he also graduated from the Honours programme where he worked on healthcare management related projects. Further, Samet holds a Master of Science in Public Policy and Human Development with a specialisation in risk and vulnerability from the United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and social Research institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT).

Samet is passionate about the science of climate change and its adverse effects on human and environmental health. In particular, he is interested in the interlinkage between disaster risk management and climate risk insurance.

Besides his studies, Samet gained practical working experience in the field of health communication and risk communication while being an intern at the Institute for Public Communication at the Università della Svizzera italiana in Lugano (Switzerland). Moreover, he got an insight into the human development sector while he worked as a volunteer on a community based education approach for children in Puerto López (Ecuador). In addition, Samet did a six month internship at MCII where he contributed to the “Advancing Climate Risk Insurance Plus” (ACRI+) project and “G7 InsuResilience Initiative”. Afterwards, he did a three months internship at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in Manila (Philippines) where he focused on the nexus between climate change and human rights.

See Samet's profile on the Opens external link in new windowUNU-EHS website.

Raúl Fernández (Project Associate)

Raúl Fernández is a project associate at the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative hosted by UNU-EHS. He is involved in designing research to determine the impact of climate risk insurance in vulnerable populations. In the past, he has worked for the GIZ (German Corporation for International Cooperation), developing policy advisory services to promote sustainable energy systems in developing countries. Prior, he worked at the German Institute of Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture and at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin in the frame of the Trans-SEC project in Tanzania, a participatory action research project aiming at developing food security innovations.

Raúl holds a M.A. in Development Economics from the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (2016) and a B.A. in Business Administration from the Oviedo University (2009). Furthermore, in 2010 he received a scholarship from the Spanish Government to study a Master Programme in International Business Management with a practical year in the Embassy of Spain in Kenya. 

See Raúl's profile on the Opens external link in new windowUNU-EHS website.

Rachael Hansen (Programme Coordinator)

Rachael Hansen is a Project Assistant at the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative hosted by UNU-EHS. She engages in the Climate Risk Adaptation and Insurance in the Caribbean project being implemented by the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Building (BMUB). Rachael completed her undergraduate degree at Utah State University in Journalism and Public Relations and her graduate degree at Edinburgh Napier University in International Event Management. In addition to assisting with the Caribbean project, Rachael coordinates all of MCII's events as well as acts as the team's native English speaking editor. 

See Rachael's profile on the Opens external link in new windowUNU-EHS website.

Tara James (Local Coordinator)

Tara is the Local Coordinator for MCII's Climate Risk Adaptation and Insurance in the Caribbean (CRAIC) project.

Upon completing her BSc in Actuarial Science, Tara specialized in the provision of alternative risk transfer consulting services for geographical and weather hazards. She provided input to and assisted in the management of groundbreaking insurance projects such as CCRIF SPC, the world’s first multi-country catastrophe risk fund. She also conducted in the research, development and implementation activities for weather index-based micro-insurance schemes in small island states. She is also a Fulbright Scholar with an MBA specializing in Risk Management and Insurance from the Wisconsin School of Business.

These experiences and opportunities served to increase her passion to do challenging and impactful work. Her career goal is to contribute meaningfully to the growth of the insurance industries and adaptation to climate change within emerging markets.

Dirk Kohler (Insurance Advisor)

Dirk Kohler is the Insurance Advisor at MCII. His main focus will be on complementing the work of MCII in the Caribbean by adding his long years of profound insurance industry experience to the implementation of two climate risk insurance solutions in Saint Lucia, Grenada, Jamaica, Belize and Trinidad & Tobago. He will also join the MCII team providing technical advice to the G7 initiative on climate risk insurance (InsuResilience) run by GIZ and BMZ. 

Dirk was founder and CEO of CarbonRe AG, a Swiss based expert insurance, specializing in climate change, carbon markets and clean energy technologies. With a background in applied economics (chartered insurer), environmental risk management and insurance, Dirk has been associated with GERLING Group of Insurance companies and GERLING Consulting Group since 1987. In 1998 he initiated the GERLING Sustainable Development Project GmbH (GSDP) to move GERLING into visionary fostering of Sustainable Development. He took over GSDP in a Management Buy Out in 2003. Dirk was a founding partner of United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), its climate change working group, and was accredited by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at COP 6.5 and 15. Dirk was awarded World Finance Carbon Market Awards 2011 for Best Overall Contribution to Insurance (Global). He is a German with strong roots in France and experience in the Mediterranean Regions and North Africa.

See Dirk's profile on the Opens external link in new windowUNU-EHS website.

Jennifer Phillips (Project Associate)

Jennifer Phillips is a Project Associate responsible for the disaster risk management component of the Climate Risk Adaptation and Insurance in the Caribbean (CRAIC) project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). The project seeks to address climate change, adaptation, and vulnerability by promoting weather-index based insurance as a risk management instrument in the Caribbean. Jennifer specializes in developing disaster risk management products and approaches that can be used by the project partners when introducing weather-index insurance to new communities.

Before starting at MCII, she worked in the Advancing Climate Risk Insurance Plus (ACRI+) team at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, focusing on the Increasing Urban Resilience through Risk Transfer in China project and the Applying Integrated Disaster and Climate Risk Management to Renewable Energy in Barbados project.

Jennifer obtained her Master’s degree in Development Economics from the University of Göttingen, where she investigated the effect of income inequality on environmental legislation for her master’s thesis. She received her Bachelor’s degree from James Madison College at Michigan State University where she double majored in International Relations and Economics and specialized in political economy. She has completed internships for the Michigan House of Representatives and the Centre for Socio-Eco-Nomic Development (CSEND) in Geneva and has additionally worked in Burkina Faso and Russia.

Viktoria Seifert (Project Associate)

Viktoria works as a Project Associate for Climate Policy and Insurance at MCII, and contributes to the work and policy advisory related to MCII’s support of the G7 InsuResilience Initiative. InsuResilience strives to integrate insurance with comprehensive disaster risk management approaches to cover an additional 400 million vulnerable people by 2020. Viktoria also monitors and provides inputs to the policy process under the UNFCCC and other relevant initiatives like the G7, G20 and V20. Further, she is responsible for advocacy and outreach on relevant climate policy and insurance networks.

Prior to taking up her position at MCII, Viktoria worked with several of MCII’s members and partners, such as the Climate Change Division of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Allianz, the Sustainable Investment Forum Germany and most recently with the UNFCCC, where she focused on adaptation knowledge gaps and supported the negotiations on the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform during COP23.

Viktoria holds a B.A. in Philosophy & Economics from the University of Bayreuth, where she concentrated on climate ethics and economics, and an MSc. in International Relations from the London School of Economics with a focus on transnational climate governance. She also holds a certification by the UNEP Collaborating Centre with the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management as an Expert for Renewable Energy and Climate Finance.

See Viktoria's profile on the UNU-EHS website.

Laura Schäfer (Project Manager)

Laura Schäfer is a project manager for the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative (MCII) hosted by UNU-EHS. The project explores how climate risk insurance, embedded into comprehensive risk management, can contribute to increasing the resilience of people and communities vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. In this context the project supports the G7 InsuResilience Initiative in making climate risk insurance work for poor and vulnerable people, increasing the number of people benefitting from the tool by up to 400 million by 2020.

For MCII, Laura supports and coordinates advocacy and policy activities with regard to the UNFCCC negotiations on adaptation and loss & damage, focusing the work of the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism.

In a liaison function for MCII and UNU, Laura also works as a policy advisor for Germanwatch, e.V., an independent environment and development organization. She coordinated Germanwatch’s “Adaptation Fund NIEs in Africa: Independent insights” project and developed an approach to track and measure adaptation actions in developing countries.

Laura holds an M.A. in "Sustainable Development in Multi Level Governance" from the University of Bremen and a B.A. in political science from the University of Darmstadt. Prior to her engagement with MCII she worked as Consultant for the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) in Berlin and for the GIZ in Bremen and Cambodia.

See Laura's profile on the Opens external link in new windowUNU-EHS website.

Maxime Souvignet (Project Manager)

Dr. Maxime Souvignet is a Project Coordinator for the Munich Climate Risk Insurance Initiative (MCII) hosted by UNU-EHS in close collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The project ("Promoting Integrated Mechanisms for Climate Risk Management and Transfer") aims to develop a strategic framework for low income countries and emerging economies in finding ways to implement climate risk insurance solutions in an integrated climate risk management approach.

He holds a PhD. in Climatology and Hydrology from the University of Leipzig in Germany, which was conducted in close collaboration with the Center for Advanced Studies in Arid Zones (CEAZA) in Chile. Dr. Souvignet has a broad interest in climate change adaptation, climate risk modelling and uncertainties related with natural catastrophes. Much of his work focuses on developing concepts and methods for the spatial assessment of risk in the context of climate change and natural perils. In previous project work, he adapted the Economics of Climate Adaptation (ECA) methodology and its modelling tools (Climada) in order to assess climate adaptation potential in poor urban areas in San Salvador.

See Maxime's profile on the Opens external link in new windowUNU-EHS website.

Michael Zissener (Initiative Coordinator)

Michael Zissener is the Initiative Coordinator for the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative (MCII). As an expert on the application of different types of risk transfer tools, such as index-based approaches, microinsurance, regional risk pools, Michael’s focus lies on the resilience and livelihood security of people and communities vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

Michael is well-versed in linking different stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds (incl. the UN-system, private sector, academia, NGOs, etc.) to distill objective-driven results. He has substantive experience in project management of different types of projects, including working with international partners and a variety of different donors. Michael mainly worked on the projects “Innovative Insurance Solutions for Adaptation to Climate Change” funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ); and “Climate Risk Adaptation and Insurance in the Caribbean”, funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).

See Michael's profile on the Opens external link in new windowUNU-EHS website.

Sabrina Zwick (Programme Associate)

Sabrina Zwick is a Programme Associate at the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative. She is responsible for the management of grants and contributes to the project "Promoting Integrated Mechanisms for Climate Risk Management and Transfer". This project aims to develop concepts for the integration of insurance solutions into climate risk management approaches in low income countries and emerging economies.

Sabrina Zwick holds a Master in Public Policy and Management from the University of Konstanz in Germany. She previously worked for UN-Water and the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP). Furthermore, her work experience includes the implementation of technical assistance projects in developing countries and countries in transition with a focus on public administration and environment.

See Sabrina's profile on the Opens external link in new windowUNU-EHS website.