Can weather index insurance help farmers adapt to climate change?

Fourth in a series of blog posts examining the role of risk in agriculture under climate change, in connection with the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid Dec. 2-13. Read the first post here, the second here, and the third here.

The COP25 talks will have focused mainly on how to mitigate and adapt to an average temperature increase. However, climate change also means that extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, and cyclones are growing in frequency and intensity. We should not ignore the behavioral impacts of these events when modeling or predicting the effects of climate change. Going a step further, effective climate change policies should focus not only on adaptation to changing temperatures in the long run, but also on adaptation to the increasing incidence and intensity of weather extremes.

Weather index insurance is a promising adaptation instrument in this regard: Losses and payouts are determined using measured variables such as rainfall, and insurance companies don’t have to send claims adjusters out to assess damages. Participating farmers can purchase insurance at relatively low cost that can help them recover from floods and other disasters and lower various forms of risk.

Photo credit: Metro Media/IWMI