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Article | WTW Research Network Newsletter

The Willis Research Network Brochure 2020: Science for Resilience

February 25, 2020

The Willis Research Network is an award-winning collaboration supporting and influencing science to improve the understanding and quantification of risk, with the aim to improve the resilience of our clients and society as a whole.
Risk & Analytics|Corporate Risk Tools and Technology|Willis Research Network
Climate and Resilience Hub|Climate Risk and Resilience|Geopolitical Risk

Welcome to our review of the fourteenth year of the Willis Research Network. As we enter a decade where climate themes and emerging people-based risks will dominate wider business, policy and society, we believe our combination of research partner continuity and innovation will deliver the depth and quality of inputs needed to meet these challenges.

In 2019 we have expanded into new fields in line with evolving needs and emerging risks.

Through our Technology and People themes we have undertaken pioneering work to quantify political risks with Oxford Analytica and confronted cyber related threat and economic assessments with the Royal United Services Institute and the University of Oxford. At Loughborough University we have been working with Professor Chris Holland and others on the implications of artificial intelligence on insurance business models. Our work in these fields and other emerging risks will continue to strengthen as these threats develop.

Much of our early work evaluated the risks of extreme weather through advanced modeling and now these partnerships are being enhanced further to addressfuture projections and scenarios. For example, at Newcastle University, Professor Chris Kilsby has been assisting in the development of future flood scenarios to enable U.K. insurers to respond to the new climate risk stress tests by the Prudential Regulatory Authority.

At the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) we have supported Dr Greg Holland and Dr James Done in a partnership that has flourished for over a decade to enable a deep integration of detailed hurricane footprints in atmospheric models, a vital component to evaluate the risks of current extremes and future climates. At TMSI National University of Singapore we bid farewell and thank you to Professor Yui Liong who retires after 11 years contributing to the WRN and look forward to continued research on South East Asian flood risks with the team. While at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany and Oklahoma University our collaborations on hail risk modelling gain greater urgency as losses to life and property grow across the world.

Our Earth risks research programme benefits from similar continuity and we describe work from our long-standing collaborations with Tohuku University, University College London and the Global Earthquake Model Foundation on hazard modeling alongside newer partnerships at San Diego State University and Temblor.

It is our pleasure to present some of this work in our annual brochure. I would like to acknowledge and thank all our research partners and the WRN management team that has brought integrated thinking to our research programme and its transmission into better modeling and decision support. Finally, and most importantly, thanks to our clients for their support and feedback that provides the essential foundation and motivation for our shared endeavor.

Weather and Climate

  • A Changing Climate Of Risk And Opportunity
  • A Long Partnership On Hail Risk
  • Extreme Hail Storms In The U.S.
  • A Step Forward In Modeling Tropical Storm Footprints
  • Tornado Intensity Distribution


  • Quantifying The Climate Change Impact On Flood Risk
  • Providing A View Of Risk In Emerging Markets


  • Leading Edge Volcanic Ash Forecasting
  • 3D Earthquake Tail Risk Estimation
  • The Odd Couple: Aftershocks And Clustering
  • Sequential Earthquake And Tsunami Fragility Of Buildings
  • Reducing Gaps In Model Coverage And Informing Model Validation
  • Seismic Gaps As The Source For Future Tsunamis


  • Understanding Security Threat, Building Resilience
  • Understanding And Quantifying Political Risk


  • Artificial Intelligence And Emerging Business Models In Insurance
  • The Economics Of Cyber Risk

The WRN will be at the heart of our support to institutions reporting under the Task Force for Climate related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and engagement in wider initiatives building climate resilience including the Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment and the Insurance Development Forum."

Rowan Douglas, CBE WRN Chairman

Head of Climate and Resilience Hub

Rowan is Head of the Climate and Resilience Hub (CRH), building on leadership on these themes for over a decade. Previously he served on the Board of Willis Re as CEO Global Analytics and founded the Willis Research Network in 2006. In 2014 he established the Capital Science and Policy Practice to apply Willis Towers Watson's expertise on resilience into wider sectors and support the Company’s growing leadership on climate, resilience and finance which grew into the CRH.

Beyond Willis Towers Watson, he founded the Insurance Development Forum in 2015 with industry, United Nations and World Bank leaders and served on The UK Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology 2011-2015. In 2016 he was made CBE for services to the economy through risk, insurance and sustainable growth.

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