Topic: Financial Instruments

Integrating Satellite Data with Local Knowledge for Community Empowerment

Original post published on the SERVIR news site iKON: A Game-Changer for Pastoralists in Senegal A new wave of African researchers is embracing transformative opportunities through the Small Innovation Grants Program (SIGP), implemented by SERVIR West Africa (SERVIR WA), a joint project between USAID and NASA, in partnership with ICRISAT, Manobi Africa and AIMS. Over the past two years, SIGP has served as a […]

Celebrating Women in Science: Sari Blakeley

Adapted from a story written by Olga Rukovets for the State of the Planet news site. Sari Blakeley did not always dream of a career in science. In fact, when she was younger, her understanding of “science” always involved “people in lab coats pipetting liquids over a Bunsen burner.” Over time, her perspective on science […]

Crowdsourcing to Build Better Insurance

In order to offer protective insurance to even greater numbers of smallholder farmers, in 2021 ACToday began testing mobile crowdsourcing apps that tap into the experiences and memories of farmers themselves.

IRI at COP26 – Mélody Braun on Why COP Matters

The United Nations’ twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties, or COP26, is taking place in Glasgow, Scotland from October 30 to November 12. The COP is the largest and most important international meeting on climate change. The countries involved come together to make a number of crucial decisions to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions in order to […]

A young boy walks behind two oxen plowing a field in preparation for rain in Ethiopia.

In New Project, Millions of Farmers Will Help to Improve Insurance Against Climate Disasters

This story was originally written by Kristin French and published on the State of the Planet blog. Megafires, extreme weather, locust swarms, pandemics: These are just some of the many natural disasters that have devastated farmers in recent years, destroying livelihoods and leaving hunger in their wake. Between 2008 and 2018, disasters cost the agricultural […]

A basket of groundnuts in Madagascar

Index Insurance for Madagascar’s Groundnut Farmers

by Yohana Tesfamariam Tekeste and Souha Ouni Designing financial tools and processes that help farmers bounce back from droughts and other extreme weather events is a crucial part of their strategy to adapt to longer-term climate change. The Financial Instruments Sector Team (FISTeam) of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society has been an […]

Insurance Tools for Climate Adaptation: Q&A with Rahel Diro

The world’s 570 million smallholder farmers are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of current and future climate variability and climate change. They need support and science-based strategies to make their communities resilient to these impacts and enable them to have sustainable livelihoods no matter what the climate might bring. One adaptation strategy being […]

iKON: Playing to Adapt

Climate risk instruments are designed to help farmers adapt to climate variability and change. These instruments are usually driven by data from satellites and weather stations, but these data sets can be improved over time using community-sourced observation data. Currently, such farmer data collection is limited to small-scale focus groups. However, increasing constraints on direct […]

2021 ACToday Highlight: Helping Provide Insurance to a Million Smallholder Farmers

This story was published as part of the Adapting Agriculture to Climate Today, for Tomorrow (ACToday) Columbia World Project 2021 Report. Read the full report here. Since its launch in 2017, ACToday has invested in forecasts, monitoring tools and other information products to help government agencies, humanitarian organizations and farmers better plan for droughts and […]

Improving Risk Indicators: Introducing the Next Generation Drought Index Project

Across the globe, food security continues to be a significant challenge, one that is estimated to increase with the compounding factors of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. The Next Generation Drought Index (NGDI) project addresses this challenge by leveraging satellite technology and drought modeling to provide humanitarian and development agencies access to the latest and most […]

Supporting interdisciplinary careers for sustainability

  • Journal: Nat Sustain
  • Publisher: Nature
  • Published: January 2021
  • Categories: Financial Instruments


J. Nicolas Hernandez-Aguilera
Weston Anderson
Allison L. Bridges
M. Pilar Fernandez
Winslow D. Hansen
Megan L. Maurer
Elisabeth K. Ilboudo Nébié
Andy Stock

Climate Risk Insurance for Colombia’s Smallholder Rice Farmers

The Adapting Agriculture to Climate Today, for Tomorrow (ACToday) Columbia World Project has helped create advanced and sustainable climate services around the world tailored for agricultural decision making. Countries are using these new services to manage many of the climate-related risks to their food systems. But even the best climate services by themselves cannot manage […]

ACToday Experts Take Part in Panel on Climate and Food Security

Adapted from a news story by Columbia World Projects. Scientists and other experts from the Adapting Agriculture to Climate Today, for Tomorrow (ACToday) Project, joined former New York Times journalist Andrew Revkin for an online web seminar on May 7 to discuss the intersection of food, climate and coronavirus. The event – “Feeding Humanity as […]

ACToday Columbia World Project enabling insurance to reach a million farmers in Ethiopia

The Adapting Agriculture to Climate Today, for Tomorrow Columbia World Project (ACToday) has been working with its Ethiopian partners to create new climate tools for decision makers working in agriculture and food security. These investments are now directly enabling the World Food Programme (WFP) to reach its 2022 target of providing a million smallholder farmers in Ethiopia with affordable insurance against droughts and other climate risks.

IRI@AGU: Crossing the ‘Predictability Desert’

Until recently, predicting rainfall and temperature at the subseasonal timescale (i.e. between two weeks and three months) was considered impossible. That’s beginning to change, thanks to the efforts of IRI’s Andrew Robertson, the head of IRI’s climate group and co-chair of the steering group of the Subseasonal to Seasonal (S2S) Prediction Project.  In the Q&A […]

IRI@AGU: Schedule of Events 2019

A range of IRI’s areas of expertise will be represented at this year’s annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Below is the schedule of IRI’s posters and presentations in sequential order. SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8 World Climate Research Programme 40th Anniversary Symposium Lisa Goddard WCRP is celebrating its 40th year of international climate science. We […]

IRI@AGU: Focusing on Floods

Often considered one of the most revolutionary technologies for climate research, remote sensing has the capacity to vastly improve the predictive strength of a wide variety of forecasting methodologies.  However, this is still a rapidly-growing field and continuing to evaluate and cross-reference remote sensing data against other data-gathering methods is necessary to improve accuracy, a […]

ACToday Q&A: J. Nicolás Hernandez-Aguilera on Coffee and Climate

IRI’s Juan Nicolás Hernandez-Aguilera discusses his research on sustainable coffee production. Originally from Colombia, his interest in the stark contrast between Colombia’s natural resource wealth and high levels of inequality, rural violence and deforestation has manifested in feeling a “responsibility to bring research toward action.”

IRI@AGU: Lessening the Impacts of Climate Shocks to Agriculture

In this video, IRI’s director, Lisa Goddard, discusses two innovations IRI has helped develop to reduce the potential impacts of droughts and extreme weather on vulnerable communities around the world: climate-based index insurance for smallholder farmers in Africa and forecast-based financing for the World Food Programme. Lisa Goddard– Climate Variability, Index Insurance & Forecast-based Financing […]

IRI@AGU: Farmers’ Perceptions as Data

As our climate continues to change, it becomes increasingly important to consider the effects this will have around the world, especially in developing countries where many small farmers already struggle.  For more than 10 years, researchers at IRI have been developing index insurance, which would provide a safety net for farmers who experience devastating climate […]

IRI@AGU: Schedule of Events 2018

A range of IRI’s areas of expertise will be represented at this year’s annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Below is the schedule of IRI’s posters and presentations in sequential order. MONDAY Climate Services Research and Development: Adapting to Climate Today Lisa M Goddard is the primary convener for both a presentation and poster […]

After Ten Years of Index Insurance, What’s Next?

Despite an overabundance of food in some parts of the world, about 815 million people suffered from chronic undernourishment in 2016. Poor nutrition leads to nearly half of deaths in children under the age of five. Many of those who are hungry are farmers and their families. Our food systems clearly aren’t working as well […]

Upping Our Game: Crop Insurance Project Proves Wildly Successful

A weather index insurance tool is graduating from research project to commercial product. Using multimedia and infographics, a new story puts the technical process in the context of its real-world impact. Find out how the International Research Institute for Climate and Society’s Financial Instruments Sector team pulled it off, and how the project could be […]

The Big Idea: Farsighted Forecasts

Lisa Goddard directs Columbia’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), which helps developing countries anticipate and manage the impacts of climate change. Columbia Magazine asked her to explain how climate scientists can predict weather patterns months in advance, and how their work is improving people’s lives. Columbia Magazine: IRI is at the forefront […]

IRI@AGU: Schedule of Events 2017

A range of IRI’s areas of expertise will be represented at this year’s annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). One scientist will present on a tool for supporting decision making in agriculture. Another presentation focuses on improving our fundamental ability to predict tropical cyclones. Security under changing conditions is a major theme in […]

New Climate Data Transforms Insurance Projects in Africa

By Dan Osgood, Lead Scientist, IRI Financial Instruments Sector Team Small farms are vulnerable to climate risk, but most smallholder farmers around the world don’t have access to insurance and other financial tools to manage fluctuations in climate. Over the past decade we’ve put a great deal of effort into a new kind of insurance–index insurance–that […]

Financial Instruments Sector Team Launches New “Trade Blog”

The Financial Instruments Sector Team has launched a new publication on Medium, called Inside Index Insurance. The purpose of the publication is to provide a range of content types from team members – from quick dispatches from activities around the world to in-depth analysis of the technical components of financial instruments. “I’ve always wanted to know more about what […]

IRI@AGU: Schedule of Events 2016

A range of IRI’s areas of expertise will be represented at this year’s annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Many of the presentations center on fundamental climate science, including analyses of the influence of climate variability and change on rainfall in the US, Iran, South America and the Sahel, as well as the […]

New Climate Data in Zambia Unlocks Insurance Opportunities

In mid September, IRI staff helped launch an innovative new data platform in Lusaka, Zambia that combines satellite rainfall estimates with the country’s existing network of rain gauges. The platform, developed with the Zambia Meteorological Department and through funding from NASA, is the latest to come out of IRI’s Enhancing National Climate Services (ENACTS) initiative […]

Remote Sensing and Index Insurance: Finding a Common Language

by Bristol Powell & Helen Greatrex, Financial Instruments Sector Team   Satellite products could give index insurance projects the scaling power they seek, but challenges remain. A workshop held earlier this year addressed these challenges head on. Index insurance is innovative, but can it reach a critical mass? Until recently, many have doubted that index insurance could scale […]

25,000 Insured Ethiopian Farmers Receive Payments for El Niño Droughts

By Daniel Osgood More than 25,000 insured farming families in Ethiopia have received payments for crop loss and damages after a year of devastating drought caused in large part by the 2015 El Niño. The farmers purchased the insurance through the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative [latest report], run by the World Food Program and Oxfam America. […]

El Niño 2015 Conference Report

In November 2015, the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University, in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, convened the El Niño 2015 Conference. The report from this conference is now available. In addition to recordings and summaries of the […]

Farmers receive insurance payouts in Senegal

In Tambacounda, Senegal, small-scale farmers rely on sufficient and steady rainfall at key times of the growing season. As climate change leads to increased irregularity and intensity of rainfall events, the adaptation strategies employed by farmers to cope with shocks do not always suffice. The fear of poor productivity in a year often prevents them from […]

IRI@AMS 2016: Schedule of Events

From crowd-sourcing tornado data to teaching Harlem high-school students about climate change and climate justice, IRI scientists will be sharing a number of fascinating projects at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) next week in New Orleans.  Below is a schedule of their presentations and posters. Presenting authors appear in bold. Crowd-Sourcing the Storm: A New […]

Farmers in Honduras. Photo: IRI/Elisabeth Gawthrop

VIDEO: What tools do Honduran farmers want for climate risk?

Text by Sofía Martínez Video by Elisabeth Gawthrop, Sofía Martínez and Courtney St. John Answers from insurance research La version en español esta disponible aquí.  During the first of the two growing seasons of 2015, grain farmers in El Paraíso, Honduras faced one of the worst droughts in history, with losses ranging from 60 to 100% […]

Farmers in Honduras. Photo: IRI/Elisabeth Gawthrop

¿Cuáles herramientas quieren los productores hondureños para el riesgo climático?

Texto por Sofía Martínez Video por Elisabeth Gawthrop, Sofía Martínez and Courtney St. John Respuestas de la investigación English version available here.  Durante las dos temporadas agrícolas del 2015, los productores de granos básicos de El Paraíso, Honduras se enfrentaron a una de las peores sequías en la historia, con pérdidas desde un 60 hasta […]

IRI@AGU: Schedule of Events 2015

The IRI has seven scientists and staff presenting on a wide range of topics at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Meeting this year. Andrew Robertson and Alexis Berg will present advancements in our fundamental understanding of earth’s systems. Eunjin Han, Pietro Ceccato and Pradipta Parhi will discuss methods for using our climate knowledge for applications in agriculture, health and […]

Climate Resilience (Animation)

Climate resilience: it’s the ability for communities to recover from the impacts of climate events. It’s the difference between weather being manageable…or a catastrophe. But for many parts of the world, where livelihoods depend so much on the climate, critical weather and climate information is unavailable or unusable. The International Research Institute for Climate and […]

IRI @ Climate Week NYC 2015

Staff members from the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) are participating in a number of high-level events during Climate Week NYC  this year. See the schedule below, and follow the links for more information. Launch of the Global Nutrition Report Tuesday, September 22 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Hearst Building, New York Climate change is complicating global efforts […]

VIDEOS: A Host of Visitors

A walk through the International Research Institute for Climate and Society is often punctuated by the sounds of French, Spanish and other languages drifting through the halls. Our international staff contributes to this, but usually it’s a sign that we are hosting visitors for training and collaborations. Despite the increasing online connectedness of our world, […]

New Study Proves Weather-Based Index Insurance Can Work For Rural Poor on Large Scale

Findings spur Nigerian government to look into solutions to cover 15 million farmers by 2017 LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM (26 January 2015) — Nigerian government officials will convene in London this week to gather advice for scaling-up agricultural insurance policies for smallholder farmers, to bolster the up and coming agricultural powerhouse’s resilience to climate and market shocks. The meeting […]

VIDEO: Designing Insurance with Dominican Dairy Producers

Over the last year, the financial instruments sector team at IRI has been working in the Dominican Republic to design an index insurance product for the country’s dairy producers. This work has been part of the Climate Resiliency and Index Insurance Program (CRII), funded by the USAID office in the Dominican Republic. In a new video, we show how researchers […]

IRI@AGU: Schedule of Events

The IRI has a record thirteen scientists and staff presenting at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Meeting this year. Below is the schedule of events for those presenting, organized by theme and with links to additional information about their research.  CLIMATE & HEALTH Climate and Population Health Vulnerabilities to Vector-Borne Diseases: Increasing Resilience Under Climate […]

Insurance and Adaptation: Farmer Driven Opportunities (Video)

The Financial Instruments Sector team at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society works with farmers, development organizations and agencies, insurance companies and other research institutes to design insurance products that are tailored to local and regional climate risks and economic systems. With the help of the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, we’ve produced this video […]

Climate Week Panel: Building Innovative Index Insurance Markets

First Climate Week Panel To Focus On Building Innovative Index Insurance Markets in Developing Countries NEW YORK, September 18, 2014 — A panel of leaders and experts from the business, humanitarian and research communities will convene this week at the Climate Week NYC to discuss the growing relevance of index insurance as a tool to […]

Join us for Climate Week NYC 2014

The International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) is co-hosting several events during Climate Week NYC 2014. See the schedule of IRI events below, and follow the links for more information. If you are a member of the media and would like to attend any of the events, please write to media @ Sustaining Health Linking Environment, […]

Drought Insurance for Ganaderos in the Dominican Republic

By Sofía Martínez, Radost Stanimirova and Daniel Osgood Since January, the northwestern Dominican Republic has experienced one of the worst droughts in 15 years. Early work by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society and its partners on a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development has shown the potential for using […]

Factsheet: Climate-Resilient Farming

Farmers in Central America and the Caribbean are highly vulnerable to the impacts of a changing and variable climate. Current and projected changes in temperature, precipitation and the frequency of droughts, hurricanes and other extreme events threaten the region’s ability to meet goals for food security and economic growth. Farmers here typically lack access to timely, […]

Seeing More with Satellites: Improving Insurance for African Farmers

By Bristol Mann and Radost Stanimirova A group of climate scientists, economists and remote sensing experts from the International Research Institute for Climate and Society and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center are collaborating to help solve a longstanding issue in the development of agriculture insurance programs in Africa: how to generate enough quality environmental data […]

IRI and U. of Arizona Team Up for Climate

IRI and the University of Arizona address climate vulnerability in most at-risk areas of the world in new project The Caribbean, Asia’s Indo-Gangetic Plain and West Africa are three regions known to be extremely vulnerable to climate variability and change, particularly to droughts, extreme weather events and stresses on food production, water resources and coastal areas. A […]

Online Crop Calendar Helps Indonesian Government Manage Climate Risk

The International Research Institute for Climate and Society and the Center on Globalization and Sustainable Development at Columbia University are collaborating with the Centre for Climate Risk and Opportunity Management in Southeast Asia Pacific at Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB – Bogor Agriculture University) in Indonesia to help farmers cope with droughts, fires and other climate impacts. The project, called “CU-IPB […]

Insuring 37,000 Rwandan Farmers Against Drought

Index insurance can lower the cost of insurance, allowing smallholder farmers to buy insurance that can help them withstand the impacts of bad years and risk making productive investments in good years. A key component of index insurance is historical data – often temperature or rainfall data – to use as a basis for creating an index that determines when insurance payouts […]

An Index Insurance Primer

IRI has put together a list of Frequently Asked Questions for the US Agency for International Development about index insurance and how it is being used in development and adaptation projects around the world. Download the FAQ or click on the image. If you’re looking for even more resources on index insurance, head over to our Financial […]

Climate at Different Spatial and Temporal Scales

  • Journal: Proceeding of Workshop: The challenges of index-based insurance for food security in developing countries
  • Publisher: Publications Office of the European Union
  • Published: June 2013
  • Categories: Climate, Financial Instruments


Lyon, Bradfield

Poor Ethiopian Farmers Receive “Unprecedented” Insurance Payout

Oxfam America and The Rockefeller Foundation announced a weather index insurance payout of unprecedented scale directly to poor farmers. Thanks to a groundbreaking new program that relies on advanced satellite technology, more than 12,200 farmers in 45 villages in Northern Ethiopia will benefit from drought protection. As a result of this year’s drought conditions each […]

A model for improving climate services in Africa

In developed countries, we are accustomed to having access to long and detailed records on weather and climate conditions, demographics, disease incidence and many other types of data. Decision makers use this information for a variety of societal benefits: they spot trends, fine-tune public health systems and optimize crop yields, for example. Researchers use it […]

Insuring Against Drought

In our latest video interview, research economist Dan Osgood discusses index insurance and how it is helping some poor rural communities reduce hardships caused by drought in East Africa: These products are becoming available to people for the first time at larges scales just this year. Given the difficulties of these [two] years, the farmers […]

IRI Technical Report 10-09: Technical Annex: HARITA IRI Report to Oxfam America – Interim Report deliverable for GLO 002/10: General IRI Planning and Technical Support for Harita Micro-Insurance Pilot – June 2010

  • Journal: IRI Technical Report
  • Publisher: International Research Institute for Climate and Society
  • Published: June 2010
  • Categories: Financial Instruments


Chen, J.
Dinku, T.
Holthaus, E.
Lyon, B.
Madajewicz, M.
Mullaly, C.
Norton, M.
Osgood, D.
Pascualini, A.
Pant, S.
Peterson, N.
Saavedra, R.
Sharoff, J.
Shirley, K. E.
Small, C.
Stiffel, S.
The, T.-L.

IRI Technical Report 10-08: HARITA IRI Report to Oxfam America. Final Report for IRI MIEL Planning & Technical Support for HARITA Micro-Insurance Pilot USA 536 / 09. June 2010.

  • Journal: IRI Technical Report
  • Publisher: International Research Institute for Climate and Society
  • Published: June 2010
  • Categories: Financial Instruments


Chen, J.
Dinku, T.
Holthaus, E.
Lyon, B.
Madajewicz, M.
Mullaly, C.
Norton, M.
Osgood, D.
Pascualini, A.
Pant, S.
Peterson, N.
Saavedra, R.
Sharoff, J.
Shirley, K. E.
Small, C.
Stiffel, S.
Teh, T.-L.

Contributions of Agricultural Systems Modeling to Weather Index Insurance

  • Journal: IRI Climate and Society Series
  • Vol. 2
  • Publisher: IRI
  • Published: 2010
  • Categories: Financial Instruments


Baethgen, W.E.; Hansen, J. W.; Ines, A.V.M.; Jones, J. W.; Meinke, H; Steduto, P.

Leaders in index insurance expand their commitments in Ethiopia

Swiss Re, Oxfam America, The Rockefeller Foundation and Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society announced a joint Commitment to Action at the Clinton Global Initiative 2009 meeting in New York, held from September 22 to 25. The collaboration is aimed at helping communities most vulnerable to climate variability and change. It will […]

IRI Technical Report 09-04. Designing Index-Based Weather Insurance for Farmers in Adi Ha, Ethiopia. Report to OXFAM America

  • Journal: IRI Technical Report
  • Publisher: International Research Institute for Climate and Society
  • Published: August 2009
  • Categories: Financial Instruments


Dinku, T.
Giannini, A.
Hansen, J.
Holthaus, E.
Ines, A.
Kaheil, Y.
Karnauskas, K.
Lyon, B.
Madajewicz, M.
Mclaurin, M.
Mullally, C.
Norton, M.
Osgood, D.
Peterson, N.
Robertson, A.
Shirley, K.
Small, C.
Vicarelli, M.

Index insurance for development and disaster management

Para Espanol: Seguro ‘parametrico’ y reduccion de la pobreza Pour Francais: Une assurance particuliere pour la gestion des risques climatiques Climate has always presented a challenge to farmers, herders, fishermen and others whose livelihoods are closely linked to their environment, particularly those in poor areas of the world. A type of insurance called index insurance […]

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