New applied research network to advance flood resiliency in Canada

 Partners for Action created at the University of Waterloo

WATERLOO, ON, April 16, 2015 /CNW/ - The Co-operators and Farm Mutual Reinsurance Plan today announced the creation of the Partners for Action (P4A) Network at the University of Waterloo's Faculty of Environment. The two founding partners have committed $1.1 million to the new applied research network, which will work to advance flood resiliency in Canada in the face of a changing climate.

P4A will use a collaborative approach that brings together a diverse set of stakeholders from business, government and non-governmental organizations to create and share knowledge, address information needs and drive action to better manage the risk posed by flooding. Its work will include monetizing the economic costs and benefits of adaptation, as well as the social and environmental co-benefits, and promoting the need for improved flood mapping across the country.

"This partnership is an example of co-operative and mutual insurance companies working together to address an important unmet need in our communities – that is, our lack of resiliency when it comes to flooding," said Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators. "A challenge of this magnitude and complexity requires a collaborative undertaking involving a wide variety of stakeholders. That's the concept behind P4A."

"Together with the 54 mutual insurance companies comprising our voting members, we welcome this opportunity to support P4A," said Steve Smith, president and CEO of Farm Mutual Reinsurance Plan Inc. "Flooding affects more people globally than any other type of natural disaster and causes the largest economic, social and humanitarian losses. Advancing flood resiliency through research will help the insurance industry protect Canadians from financial loss caused by flooding."

P4A will be led by a Director in the Faculty of Environment, whose work will be supported by an advisory committee and a stakeholder committee, which will include many of the 60 participants from last summer's Partners for Action roundtable, hosted by The Co-operators. One of the outcomes of that event was a study being undertaken by researchers at the University of Waterloo assessing the preparedness of Canadian cities for extreme weather and flooding, the findings of which will be released this spring.

"The Faculty of Environment at Waterloo is leading the country in climate adaptation research at a point in time when it is needed most," said Jean Andrey, Dean of the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo. "We are eager and excited to offer this expertise to Partners for Action, as they take the initiative in creating a more climate-resilient Canada."

The Director of P4A will be recruited this summer. In the months ahead, the advisory and stakeholder committees will be formed, and additional partners and financial supporters will be sought.

About The Co-operators:
The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian-owned co-operative with more than $38 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is listed among the 50 Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt; Corporate Knights' Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada; and the Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations in Canada by Sustainalytics and Maclean's magazine. For more information, please visit cooperators.ca.

About Farm Mutual Reinsurance Plan:
Farm Mutual Reinsurance Plan Inc. is a general reinsurer and therefore shares in the property, automobile, liability and other risks originally accepted by insurance companies operating principally in Canada and the United States. The company is supported by 54 mutual property and casualty insurance companies located across Canada. With combined gross premiums written of almost $1 billion and $1.6 billion in capital, the "farm mutual network" has been part of the agricultural landscape and providing people-centred insurance protection for more than 100 years. For more information, please visit fmrp.com.

About the University of Waterloo:
In just half a century, the University of Waterloo, located at the heart of Canada's technology hub, has become one of Canada's leading comprehensive universities with 35,000 full- and part-time students in undergraduate and graduate programs. A globally focused institution, celebrated as Canada's most innovative university for 23 consecutive years, Waterloo is home to the world's largest post-secondary co-operative education program and encourages enterprising partnerships in learning, research and discovery. In the next decade, the university is committed to building a better future for Canada and the world by championing innovation and collaboration to create solutions relevant to the needs of today and tomorrow. For more information about Waterloo, please visit uwaterloo.ca.

SOURCE The Co-operators

For further information: Leonard Sharman, The Co-operators, 519-767-3937; Krista Seiling, Farm Mutual Reinsurance Plan Inc., 519-740-6415; Nick Manning, University of Waterloo, 519-888-4451, 226-929-7627

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