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THE PRESIDENT'S CORNER

 

Cooperative greetings! 

As we reach the midpoint of this year, I would like to take a moment to reflect on our achievements in the past six months of our collective journey as we transitioned to climate insurance, as well as align our path forward for the remainder of the year 2024. I would also like to express my gratitude for the continued support of our dynamic CLIMBS Stakeholders and Board of Directors, top management team, department heads, supervisors, managers, all key personnel from local and international partners and institutions, and our fellow cooperative member-owners that shape our cooperative into a dynamic, fast-growing, and one of the leading non-life and life insurance providers in the Philippines. 

There is no doubt that each and every one of you plays a pivotal role in shaping the fabric of our economy and tying the tapestry of hope, peace, and development among the lives of every Filipino. Today, July 6, cooperatives around the world will celebrate the International Day of Cooperatives with the theme “Cooperatives Building a Better Future for All.” This year has presented us with both challenges and opportunities and I am proud of each of us who have weathered the storms and altered the trajectory of our endeavors. I want to express my gratitude to each and every one of you for your hard work, commitment, and resilience since the beginning of this year. Thus, I would like to impart a three-point agenda in this message; 

Understanding the purpose of “Climate Insurance: Insuring Where You Are” 

First, I would like to highlight the recent speech of United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals Report for 2024 on June 28, 2024, emphasizing the importance of the remaining months in the critical fight against climate change, in which he urged countries to be more aggressive in taking urgent action to limit the rising temperature to 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) before the year 2025. 

 At the start of our transition towards climate insurance, it is important to note how the COP28 UN Climate Change Conference held in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, rippled an effect of change in our cooperative business model. We stood alongside 85,000 participants and at least 1500 representatives of national and international delegations to declare a climate emergency and reconvene for solutions to a global response to one of the most pressing issues of our time, which is climate change. 

Although the resolution of COP 28 is to “transition away” from fossil fuels and start enhancing global efforts to increase resilience, in CLIMBS and in the local context, we leaned towards our shared objective with the U.N.’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, more specifically in SDG 13: Climate Action and SDG 17: Partnership for the Goals. At the forefront of these initiatives, we have developed our novel product, the enhanced Weather Protect Insurance. 

Agriculture is considered the backbone of the Philippine economy, and its role in food security and poverty reduction in the country has faced an array of challenges that have prevented the agricultural sector from achieving its target objectives of food sufficiency, diversification, and adaptation to modern technologies. In recent reports in February 2024, the Department of Agriculture has already declared a state of emergency regarding the disastrous effects of El Nino, amounting to PHP 357.4 million, with over 8,000 farmers in multiple regions nationwide. 

Our enhanced Weather Protect Insurance is the first and only parametric insurance that ensures that farmers and cooperative members will be able to receive payouts for the damage caused by disaster or calamity through different trigger parameters that measure rainfall and wind speed with an added value on smart farming agriculture, with the help of our international partners – IBISA, and the Alliance of Bioversity International CIAT. Through the Insuresilience Solutions Fund (ISF), we were able to scale the implementation and coverage of WPI from 14 provinces to 63 provinces in 2023 using the gold standard of parametric insurance – ERA5 satellite data. 

 Thus, with our newly developed drought product component of the Weather Project Insurance, we aim to increase long-term efficiency and cultivate sustainable approaches to the El Niño phenomenon. As of June 2024, over 187 cooperatives have onboarded for the year 2023-2024 for Year 3 in WPI, while 47 cooperatives have already availed of the Drought product in 27 provinces. This innovation will complement government initiatives of Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation, Climate Change Commission, and Department of Agriculture, and the Insurance Commission. 

By incorporating our ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) and strengthening cooperatives’ adaptive capacities through Weather Protect Insurance, CLIMBS takes a more proactive approach to its #Coops4ClimateAction initiatives, assessing the level of risk posed by people to the ecosystem and promoting sustainable development. We have taken a natural approach to protecting our marine habitats and promoting biodiversity conservation by utilizing our mangrove planting initiatives through our recently instituted Community Affairs team and integrating adaptation measures with larger sustainable development goals, ensuring that actions benefit both people and ecosystems in the long run.

In the first step of reintroducing our tagline, “Insuring Where You Are,” we aim to develop a fast and efficient digital innovation with the use of our CLIMBS Insure App. With just one click away from your fingertips, access to insurance products and facilitating online transactions are now made possible through this app, which can be easily downloaded for free at the App Store or Google Play.

Our commitment to innovation is unwavering and it is our utmost goal to provide quick and reliable insurance solutions so that you, our member-owner cooperatives,  and your loved ones can be safe and secure from any financial risks, no matter where you are in the world. The CLIMBS InsurTech is also an innovative tool to allow our Coop Assurance Centers (CAC) to easily manage their agents and members, as well as easily manage insurance products, thereby optimizing workflow, streamlining our operations, and boosting overall productivity in the cooperatives.  

In line with these technological advancements and digitalization, we have also taken into account CLIMBS’s plans for data warehousing over the next five years in close coordination with our partners from the Belgian Raiffeisen Foundation’s technical assistance. CLIMBS aims to intensify its efforts in the finance and banking sector, and with the support of KBC Bank & Verzekering in collaboration with BRS, we seek to develop a wide range of concepts and strategic positioning for business intelligence, analytics, and data-driven decision-making processes for the future. 

Embodying cooperative values and principles in our way of business

This leads to the 2nd point on the agenda: 

It is critical to emphasize the ways in which we have integrated the International Cooperative Alliance’s seven cooperative principles into our daily activities and internal processes. Without a doubt, as the year progresses, and as a cooperative, we have embodied the first principle of open and voluntary membership. In an effort to promote an inclusive, democratic, and cooperatively responsive environment, we have fervently adhered to these practices by providing equal opportunities to our members, encouraging voluntary participation, upholding non-discriminatory methods, and ensuring transparency within the organization’s flow and structure, creating a culture of mutual trust and respect among each and every member while also reflecting the shared values in the U.N.’s SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities. 

Echoing one-member, one-vote in democratic governance, each member actively participates in the company’s direction, relating to the second cooperative principle, Democratic Member Control. This makes every member a major component in how CLIMBS operates and the direction it takes as it moves towards climate finance as a provider of climate insurance. Democracy is the foundation of cooperativism, where each member has a voice in the addition or abolishment of new policies, the decision-making processes, and the election of new officers. 

These are evident in the organization’s Annual General Assembly with the theme, “A Climate Insurance for Year 1: Let’s Connect, Lead, Inspire, Motivate, Build, and Sustain! “, which took place on April 15, 2024, at the Manila Marriott Hotel in Pasay City, for the next 5 years . The third principle is Member’s Economic Participation. Since cooperatives operate on the ideologies of self-help and mutual support, CLIMBS member-owners contribute directly to ensure necessary long-term viability and sustainable development of the company, thereby adhering to SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth. 

Simultaneously, under the fourth principle of autonomy and independence, CLIMBS also gradually takes part in aiding the strong focus of cooperatives on helping their members and ensuring that needs are met, respecting the member-coops’ unique needs. However, autonomy does not imply isolation; rather, it encourages cooperation among cooperatives. Which we have encouraged with other cooperatives through actively taking part in federations, networks, or alliances to achieve common goals and strengthen their collective impact in the organization. 

The fifth principle of education, training, and information has been well interconnected through the Co-operative College of the Philippines as its education arm, as well as the National Federation of Cooperative Primaries (NaFeCoop) and the ongoing Youth Development Program. We take inspiration and model from the Rochdale Pioneers and how their living symbol influences the understanding of cooperatives emphasizing the role of cooperative education for the members, the general public and especially the young people all around the world. Taking an active role in education helps cooperators alleviate their knowledge and the strategies needed to be implemented in this fast-paced and constantly changing society. Embodying the sixth principle, cooperation among cooperatives is represented in various spaces and recently through the Philippine Chamber of Cooperatives Inc. as its advocacy and lobbying arm, aiming to represent the Philippine cooperative movement in policy-making, shaping laws and regulations, and amplifying the voices of primary cooperatives in the country from different sectors ranging from transport, credit, banking, and agriculture cooperatives.

Lastly, CLIMBS places a strong emphasis on the seventh principle of Concern for Community. Given that sustainable development extends beyond the local level, we have implemented our Community Action Response to Emergency Services, or CLIMBS C.A.R.E.S. program, to support our community affairs and climate action initiatives. These include our disaster response, special operations on medical missions, coastal clean-up drives, and mangrove-growing programs contributing towards SDG 17: Partnership for the Goals and SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being.

CLIMBS Mid-Year Financial Highlights and Strengthening the Core for People Development

Bridging the gap between financial inclusion and meeting this year’s sales target has been at the core of our cooperative ideals which brings me to the next part of my agenda. As of May 31, 2024, we have reached P1.158B of Gross Premium, P1.024B of Net Premium, P161.99 Million of Net Surplus, P1.956B Managed Fund, P5.120B Assets, P2.803B of Net Worth, P500.77M total amount of Claims. 

Despite the numerous challenges and repositories we faced in the first six months of this year, we have gained collective strength from our cooperative member-owners who have placed their complete trust and confidence in us. We significantly owe them  the full amount of our financial objectives and achievements. Each member of our CLIMBS Sales Team has contributed to the progressive and expanding financial statements. Keeping in mind that people and the shared value of our hearts for cooperativism are what links us to the path to growth and development. 

Along with our empowered and aggressive CLIMBS Sales Personnel, we hope to grow the workforce through people development and capacity building with all of our employees, who serve as the lifeblood of this organization. We have already conducted 11 local and 5 international trainings and seminars for our managers, supervisors, and assigned personnel this year, covering a variety of topics and areas for improvement. These training facilitates sharing of knowledge, ideas, and developing solution-based thinking, primarily assisting the organization in becoming an asset in nation-building, leveling expertise, and equipping the workforce with cutting-edge, globally competitive sets of skills and abilities. Amplifying a network of exceptional, high-achieving individuals dedicated to inspiring, informing, and innovating in order to stay updated with current trends and adapt to modern-day realities.   

Ways forward to a Sustainable Future 

The last point on my agenda for this message relates to how the Philippines has secured a seat on the inaugural Loss and Damage Fund Board at the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, as stated by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. CLIMBS also leaned on the bandwidth of the climate finance industry in relation to our Weather Protect Insurance, linking the bridge between agriculture insurance models and the future of climate risk insurance in the Philippines. 

The loss and damage fund means that the country is now well-represented and recognized for all funding available globally to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. We have garnered support  from local and global development actors and agencies, our affiliations with the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) and the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), collaborating for the growth and advancement of our actions to combat climate change in the country. 

Implementing our Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (EbA) has also tied our cooperatives together; it is an overall adaptation strategy that improves the governance of natural resources in relation to the use of a community-centered, gender-sensitive approach to biodiversity and ecosystem services. In the next few months, we aim to cultivate an inclusive, empowered environment for women and children suffering from the direct consequences of climate change by developing new components of our Weather Protect Insurance, such as the drought product and heat index, and viewing climate-related risks from a gender lens to further our sole mission of increasing our sustainability practices for the remainder of this year. 

By following our Environmental, Social, and Governance framework and advocacy efforts, we implore each and every one of you, as we navigate the path ahead, to work hand-in-hand and let optimism be our compass, compassion be our armor, and faith be our weapon in traversing the deep waters in our cooperative journey. Each step we take, every challenge we face, and all the successes we celebrate are testament to our collective strength and determination. Remember, our potential is limitless when we unite in purpose and strive towards common goals. Let us carry forward the spirit of cooperativism that defines us, knowing that together, we can shape a brighter, and build a better future for all!  We strive to be a cooperative movement that stands up in the face of adversity, and I am convinced that our combined efforts will propel us to even greater heights.  May our enduring legacy be marked with courage, peace, and development! 

Cooperatively yours,

 

Noel D. Raboy

CEO and President

CLIMBS Life and General Insurance Cooperative