Risks of Maladaptation: Climate Insurance in Agriculture

Benito Müller, Leigh Johnson, David Kreuer
Content Type
Special Report
German Development Institute (DIE)
Weather risk is an issue of extraordinary concern in the face of climate change, not least for rural agricultural households in developing countries. Governments and international donors currently promote ‘climate insurance’, financial mechanisms that make payouts following extreme weather events. Technologically innovative insurance programmes are heralded as promising strategies for decreasing poverty and improving resilience in countries that are heavily dependent on smallholder agriculture. New subsidies will amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, yet funders and advocates have thus far neglected the social and ecological ramifications of these policies. Reviews have focused largely on near-term economic effects and practical challenges. This briefing draws on an initial inventory of potential adverse effects of insurance programmes on local agricultural systems that we have recently assembled. Our review shows that farmers with insurance may alter their land-use strategies or their involvement in social networks previously used to mitigate climate risk. Both processes constitute crucial feedbacks on the environmental and the social systems respectively.
Agriculture, Climate Change, Development, Environment, Science and Technology
Political Geography
Germany, Global Focus