Johns Hopkins SAIS graduates and Swiss Re release study, “Pandemics in a Changing Climate-Evolving Risk and the Global Response”


Johns Hopkins SAIS graduates collaborate with Swiss Re to address critical international environmental policy challenges

Large-scale outbreaks such as Ebola and the Zika virus have demonstrated the importance of quick, coordinated response and rapid deployment of financial resources. Recent graduates of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and global reinsurance company Swiss Re have released a study that examines the implications of climate change on global pandemic risk. 

Pandemics in a Changing Climate-Evolving Risk and the Global Response” finds that the response mechanisms in the current system are too slow, and in addition, the effects of climate change threaten to further undermine preparedness by increasing the uncertainty of the location and severity of an outbreak. 

The group examined the Pandemic Emergency Facility (PEF), a global financing mechanism launched by the World Bank, designed to protect the world against deadly pandemics. The initiative will create an insurance market for pandemic risk, and rely on pandemic insurance, bonds, and long-term pledges to contain future outbreaks. The graduates recommend strategies to continue strengthening the effectiveness of the PEF as it evolves to manage the changing nature and distribution of pandemic risk.

"A lot was learned from the 2014 Ebola outbreak and the global community is responding to ensure we have more efficient mechanisms in place to save more lives," said Alex Kaplan, Senior Vice President of Swiss Re. "With greater urbanization, globalization and climate change we must constantly be telescoping forward to how these risks will evolve over time and the students did just that."

The report is a part of a practicum project in the Energy, Resources and Environment Program at Johns Hopkins SAIS, which gives students the opportunity to collaborate with partners from private, public, and multilateral institutions to address global challenges. The team of student researchers is comprised of Rachel Estrada, Andrew Griffith, Colbye Prim and Jeongsu Sinn, who were assisted by Celeste Connors, a former White House official on climate change and Johns Hopkins SAIS faculty advisor.

Connors said the release of the study comes as global leaders at the G7 Summit recommit to addressing health emergencies and preparedness following the Ebola crisis. "Pandemic outbreaks globally are taking a huge economic toll on governments, threatening to reverse hard-won development gains," she said. "Climate change further exacerbates this risk and new and innovative financing solutions are needed, including reinsurance mechanisms that Swiss Re is leading."


The full report is available for download: “Pandemics in a Changing Climate-Evolving Risk and the Global Response


The latest report is the third collaboration between Swiss Re and Johns Hopkins SAIS focusing on catastrophic risks and policy strategies. The previous reports are:

Fueling Resilience: Climate and Wildfire Risk in the United States
Own Your Risk: Reframing Risk and Resilience in the Columbia River Basin


Media Contacts

Celeste Connors
Associate Practitioner in Residence
Energy, Resources and Environment Program
202.330.3809 mobile

Mark Bonthrone
Communications Manager
Swiss Re 
914.828.6511 office
646.662.0212 mobile

Stacy A. Anderson
Communications Manager
Johns Hopkins SAIS
202.663.5620 office
202.853.7983 mobile 


About Johns Hopkins SAIS

A division of Johns Hopkins University, the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) is a global institution that offers students an international perspective on today’s critical issues. For seven decades, students have distinguished themselves by pursuing academic excellence in international relations. The school was established in Washington, D.C. in 1943, and opened its campus in Bologna, Italy in 1955. It initiated one of the first Western university programs in the People’s Republic of China when it launched a campus in Nanjing in 1986.

The school’s mission is to provide an interdisciplinary professional education that prepares a diverse graduate student body for internationally related positions of responsibility; to foster research, scholarship and cross-cultural exchange; and to contribute knowledge, expertise and leadership to the global community.


For more information, visit the Energy, Resources and Environment Program or @ERESAIS.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016