Disaster relief expert Caroline Birch joins Howden to help develop funding solutions for humanitarian aid


Birch’s 20+ years of field experience will be instrumental in developing innovative risk transfer solutions that help bridge the increasing aid funding gap.

Howden, the international insurance broker, announced today that disaster relief expert, Caroline Birch, will join its new Climate Risk and Resilience division as Disaster Relief Executive. Her extensive on-the-ground humanitarian aid experience will make her an invaluable adviser in developing more sustainable models for funding charities’ responses to natural disasters. 

Birch has spent nearly 20 years working in the field with the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations, and the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO). She has helped to plan and deliver humanitarian aid operations in response to complex emergencies worldwide, most recently supporting refugees and those affected by natural disasters in Pakistan and Iran. Previous assignments have seen her working with teams responding to natural disasters and conflict across Africa, Asia and Europe.

Charlie Langdale, Head of Climate Risk and Resilience at Howden, commented: “We’re working with risk transfer and catastrophe modelling experts to develop solutions that have the potential to change the way disaster relief is funded. To have, within the team, someone with such extensive and in-depth experience of responding to crises will help us to design the solutions in such a way that the funds reach those who need them as quickly and effectively as possible.”

Howden was part of the team of partners from across the private and humanitarian sectors who launched the world’s first catastrophe bond for volcano-related disasters earlier this year. The bond covers 10 volcanoes across three continents, which were selected for the significant humanitarian threat they represent.

Langdale continued: “We’re looking at how we can apply a similar approach as the volcano catastrophe bond for other types of disaster relief. Caroline’s advice will be invaluable in this process; I’m delighted that she has chosen to join us.”

Birch said: “I am very pleased to be joining Howden as I have been impressed by what I have seen of the innovative work that the Climate Risk and Resilience team is doing in the humanitarian space. I am looking forward to seeing how my field experience can help inform risk transfer solutions to provide an effective, principled humanitarian response to disasters worldwide.

“The need for humanitarian response funding is only going to continue to grow as climate change triggers more natural disasters and conflicts over dwindling resources develop. In addition to the loss of life, more people are losing their means of survival, are driven from their homes in increasing numbers, and are forced to remain displaced for longer periods of time.  As traditional funding sources struggle to keep pace with ever-increasing needs, the use of alternative provision through risk transfer could be just what it is needed to enable humanitarian organisations to continue their vital work.”