Swenja Surminski

Senior Research Fellow, LSE

Swenja Surminski

Swenja is a Senior Research Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, part of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). She is Programme Leader for the ‘climate risk, insurance and private sector’ work-stream at the institute, overseeing research projects from a multi-disciplinary field. Her research focuses on climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction with a special interest in the role of the private sector. The geographic scope of her works spans from the United Kingdom across the European Union to developing countries.

Swenja is the GRI-lead in the Costing Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in Ireland project, in collaboration with University College Cork and funded by the Environmental Protection Agency in Ireland.

She is the PI of the new LSE IGA/Rockefeller project ‘Insurance as a tool for financial and climate resilience?  Using innovations in subjective measures to explore how climate insurance can improve resilience of the world’s poor’.

Swenja is also part of the DFID-funded Uncertainty reduction in models for understanding development (UMFULA) project, exploring insurance decision making in a developing country context.

From 2012 – 2016 she was Principal Investigator for the EU’s FP7-project ENHANCE, conducting an analysis of disaster risk management partnerships across Europe and an investigation of the UK’s new Flood Re insurance arrangement.

She was appointed Visiting Academic at the Bank of England in 2015 to work on the regulator’s first report on climate change (PDF).

Swenja was selected lead author for the business and industry chapter of the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment in 2017 , and worked from 2014 -2016 as the lead academic for a World Bank project on the benefits of Disaster Risk Management (DRM), working with the Overseas Development Institute to explore how the co-benefits of DRM measures can strengthen the economic case for investment (PDF).

Swenja has published widely, is contributing author to the IPCC, and works closely with industry and policy makers at a global level, in a developing country context, across the EU and within the UK.


Prior to joining LSE in 2010 Swenja spent more than ten years in the insurance industry working on climate and risks management, including roles at Munich Re, Marsh Mc Lennon and the Association of British Insurers. Swenja was a Fulbright Scholar in the US, studying Environmental Economics and International Relations at the University of New Hampshire and received a PhD in Political Science from Hamburg University for her work on ‘Climate Change and the Insurance Industry’ in 2002.

Research interests

  • Insurance of climate risks: governance, public-private partnerships and political processes
  • The role of insurance in climate resilient development
  • Flood insurance in developed countries, emerging markets and the developing world;
  • UNFCCC’s Loss and Damage policy area
  • The benefits of disaster risk management
  • Private sector adaptation – SMEs and MNCs

Research articles


Working papers

Policy publications