Johns Hopkins SAIS graduates and Swiss Re release study that examines rising threats of invasive species, unpreparedness across industries

Invasive species are straining public resources and harming commercial industries, leading to billions of dollars in damages and control costs. In a new study, recent graduates of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and global reinsurance leader Swiss Re examine the economic costs and policy gaps in managing invasive species in North America.
Building Resilience to the Economic Threat of Invasive Species” finds that the growing intensity of invasive species attacks in the U.S. and Canada will put increasing pressure on many sectors — including wildfire management, recreational fishing, tourism, electric utilities, and agriculture — as well as on government budgets.
A coalition of regional, federal, and local actors are on the frontlines of fighting invasive species, yet they face challenges in policy and funding gaps, as well as coordination. Invasive species attacks can be difficult to detect and awareness of the problem often occurs when it is too late.
The student researchers examined invasive species attacks in the Great Lakes and compared U.S. and Canadian policy responses during the emerald ash borer infestations in Michigan and Ontario, invasive mussels attacks on coal and nuclear plants, and the threat of wildfire caused by cheatgrass, phragmites, and mountain pine beetles.
Invasive species are responsible for many hidden costs: their presence is associated with increased risks in disease indemnities, federal crop insurance payouts, litigation, property damage, and potential wildfires. Innovative insurance tools can help plug some of the funding and implementation gaps in invasive species management.
“The impact of invasive species on a community are manifold and can severely burden public sector budgets, strain tax payers’ pockets, and impair regional economies,” said Alex Kaplan, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Partnerships North America for Swiss Re. “Insurance can help understand the impacts of these invasive species in terms of understanding risk, pricing risk, improving preparedness, and triggering rapid response mechanisms.”
Kaplan added, “Leveraging insurance and implementing pre-emptive risk management approaches to address the rising risk of invasive species will help not just the insureds, but also to enable the overall community, and environment to be more resilient.”
The new report comes as world leaders convene in Charlevoix, Canada this week for the annual G7 Summit, which encourages collaboration in climate change, oceans and clean energy.
The study is a part of a practicum project in the Energy, Resources and Environment Program at Johns Hopkins SAIS, which provides 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 Jessica Chin, George Gao, Rebecca Schloemann, and Sonia Sharan, who were assisted by faculty advisor Celeste Connors.
“Public private partnerships are essential to tackling complex cross-border challenges like invasive species,” said Connors, a former White House official on climate change and Johns Hopkins SAIS faculty advisor. “Climate change further accelerates the spread of invasive species, increasing adverse impacts on biodiversity and increasing costs to the economy.” 
The full report is available for download:
“Building Resilience to the Economic Threat of Invasive Species”
Previous reports released by SAIS Practicum students in partnership with Swiss Re include:
“Lights Out: Risks of Climate & Natural Disaster Related Disruption to the Electric Grid”
“Pandemics in a Changing Climate-Evolving Risk and the Global Response”
“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
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 Swiss Re
The Swiss Re Group is one of the world’s leading providers of reinsurance, insurance and other forms of insurance-based risk transfer, working to make the world more resilient. It anticipates and manages risk – from natural catastrophes to climate change, from ageing populations to cyber crime. The aim of the Swiss Re Group is to enable society to thrive and progress, creating new opportunities and solutions for its clients. Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, where it was founded in 1863, the Swiss Re Group operates through a network of around 80 offices globally. It is organized into three Business Units, each with a distinct strategy and set of objectives contributing to the Group’s overall mission.
About Johns Hopkins SAIS
A division of Johns Hopkins University, the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) is a global institution that offers students an international perspective on today's critical issues. For nearly 75 years, Johns Hopkins SAIS has produced great leaders, thinkers, and practitioners of international relations. Public leaders and private sector executives alike seek the counsel of the faculty, whose ideas and research inform and shape policy. Johns Hopkins SAIS offers a global perspective across three campus locations: Bologna, Italy; Nanjing, China; and Washington, D.C. The school’s interdisciplinary curriculum is strongly rooted in the study of international economics, international relations, and regional studies, preparing students to address multifaceted challenges in the world today.
For more information, visit the Energy, Resources and Environment Program or @ERESAIS.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018