Farmers in developing countries are particularly hard-hit by the effects of climate change.
Photo: © UFZ / André Künzelmann


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Internationally subsidised agricultural insurance is intended to protect farmers in developing countries from the effects of climate change. However, it can also lead to undesirable ecological and social side effects, a team of German and US researchers explain in a recent study.

Researchers of the German Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and their US colleagues at the University of Oregon have explained in a review article in the latest issue of Global Environmental Change, why subsidised agricultural insurances may have unwanted side effects. The article also contains recommendations for improved insurance schemes which in future should take account of ecological and social aspects in addition to economic issues.

A range of international initiatives develop and promote risk insurance. One example is the G7 climate risk insurance initiative InsuResilience, which aims to insure 400 million people in developing countries against climate-related risks by 2020. The initiative includes "agricultural insurance", which is designed to insure farmers against major losses, for example as a result of extreme drought.

"Agricultural insurance can be a secure and extremely helpful tool for farmers in affected areas," says to Dr Birgit Müller, socio-ecological modeller at UFZ. "However, in their current format, the insurance policies are not always well thought through.

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