Committee Profile: Climate Change and Sustainability Committee


By Catherine Jacques-Brissette, ACIA

1. During the past 12 months, what projects has the committee completed?

2. What is the result of that work, i.e., what impact has it had (or will it have)?

Hopefully, our initiatives are contributing to raised awareness of the social and financial risks involved with climate change and sustainability issues among the actuarial profession. Our projects aim to articulate the actuarial expertise in forecasting and managing environment-related contingencies inherent to investments practices, pension plans, health, risk management, pricing, etc. Although we don’t claim specific expertise with respect to climate and environmental science, we wish to combine our actuarial skills with the work of other stakeholders outside of our profession (e.g., climate and environmental scientists, engineers, accountants, economists, and governments) so that we can address these global systemic challenges via a multi-disciplinary approach.

3. What has been the highlight of the committee’s work so far, and why?

In my opinion, the educational forum we held in April 2015 is certainly a highlight of our committee so far. We attracted more than 50 attendees, which is quite significant for an inaugural event. Most speakers even attended the whole day, which apparently is exceptional. The attendees also included a few professionals outside of the actuarial profession. This gave rise to many interactive and thought-provoking discussions during both the sessions and the Q&A periods, and we received very positive feedback in the post-event survey as well.

I would also include our recently-published research paper, which required tremendous effort by many people over a span of almost one year. It was finally released in August 2015, and we are hoping that it will become a reference paper for actuaries interested in climate change and sustainability issues.

4. What projects are still underway or due to begin in the coming months?

Given the success of our inaugural forum, we have decided to make it an annual event, and we are hoping that it will spur inclusion of professional development opportunities at other CIA events regarding environment-related financial risks in actuarial work. We are currently helping to organize a session about climate change at the 2015 Investment Seminar and we would be glad to collaborate with other organizing committees as well. We are also considering potential joint undertakings with other committees, either within the CIA or other actuarial organizations. In addition, we are planning some webcasts on sustainability-related topics of interest to actuaries.

5. How has serving on this committee benefited you? What is the most appealing aspect?

What drives me the most in serving on this committee is to feel that I am contributing to the development of a non-traditional field of actuarial expertise that aims to address some of the key global challenges of our times (e.g., climate change, pollution, resource scarcity, and sustainability issues). It allows me to explore how actuaries can capitalize on our risk management skills to deal with environment-related financial contingencies. The involvement of actuaries with climate change and sustainability issues is relatively recent but rapidly developing worldwide, so there is plenty of room for creativity, innovation, and continuing development. 

Furthermore, serving on this committee is perfectly aligned with my new position as a corporate responsibility and environment specialist at Bell.

Catherine Jacques-Brissette, ACIA, is Vice-chair of the Climate Change and Sustainability Committee.

Canadian Institute of Actuaries/Institut canadien des actuaires