December 2, 2019

As Great Barrier Reef deteriorates, Clyde & Co says risk management is key to building resilience

The condition of the Great Barrier Reef is so dire it should be insured for its economic value, according to a report by global law firm Clyde & Co.

The tourism asset – valued at $56 billion – risks being overwhelmed by coral bleaching, sea level rises, ocean acidification, and pollution.

Jacinta Studdert, Partner, Clyde & Co, said: "Aside from being a World Heritage site, the Great Barrier Reef is an economic asset which provides jobs, income and government revenue.

"Like other economic assets, it should be insured against certain catastrophic events to guarantee its long-term resilience," she said.

"Failure to provide sound environmental management of the Reef may lead to a wave of litigation.”

“Those impacted by environmental pollution incidents are increasingly looking at litigation.”

The report found stewardship over the reef as key to ensuring long term, sustainable opportunities to provide food security, employment, carbon sequestration, and coastal resilience.

Options for managing risk of physical harm to the Reef, and consequential economic and other losses, could include establishing a dedicated fund or parametric insurance cover.

Avryl Lattin, Corporate Regulatory Partner, Clyde & Co, says: "There is precedent in Australia and a number of other jurisdictions for using dedicated funds to manage risk, particularly in the context of terrorism risks"

"As climate-related weather risks become more prevalent, we are seeing innovations in the insurance market to cover specific weather or environmental events," she said.