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Animal agriculture: addressing the impacts

Booming demand for food derived from animals has led to unprecedented increases in livestock production over the past few decades. This increase in production and consumption of animal products creates risks for both environmental and human health. Can actuarial science play a role in minimising these negative impacts?

Livestock production has a huge environmental footprint. Reducing the environmental impact of the animal agriculture industry would be one of the most effective ways to tackle climate change and a number of other sustainability issues our world is facing today.

The Livestock sector is the world’s largest user of land resources. Despite providing only 18 per cent of the calories consumed by the world, the production of meat and dairy products requires 83 per cent of the earth’s farmland. Demand for this land is often met through significant deforestation in developing countries.

The livestock sector has also been found to be a significant contributor to climate change, with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations reporting that the sector was responsible for 18 per cent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. The sector also has a significant water footprint, with the average water footprint per calorie for beef, being twenty times larger than for cereals and starchy root vegetables.

In addition to the environmental impacts, the consumption of some animal products has been associated with adverse health effects. The World Health Organisation has classified processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogenic to humans. This category is used when there is convincing evidence that the agent causes cancer. Tobacco smoking and asbestos have received the same classification. While there is limited evidence at this stage, red meat, including beef, veal, pork, lamb and goat, was classified as Group 2A - probably carcinogenic to humans. Efforts to reduce animal agriculture, as well as the consumption of food products derived from it, have the potential to improve performance across a whole range of the goals including climate action, zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, clean water and sanitation, responsible consumption and production, life below water and life on land.

Case study by Svilena Dimitrova, FIA

FarmingThere are a number of ways the work of actuaries could help to reduce the negative impacts of animal agriculture. Actuaries providing investment advice could recommend the divestment of funds from organisations involved in animal agriculture. An initial recommendation would be to divest from those organisations who do not follow sustainable principles and practices. Actuarial analysis could identify alternative investment opportunities with expected rates of return that are as good, if not better, to ensure there is no financial detriment. Future investment could be targeted at organisations involved in the production of plant-based food, development of sustainable food sources, or reforestation.

Actuaries working in insurance could also help to address the issue by designing innovative insurance products which alleviate barriers to plant-based food farming. Recently, Resonance Global and Jubilee Insurance partnered together and utilised newly available hyper-accurate climate data to successfully develop a weather-indexed crop-insurance product in Kenya. The accurate, verified, and reliable weather data enabled the partners to evaluate risk and price premiums in a way that is both affordable for the farmers and sustainable from a business perspective. In early 2017, the partners rolled out the new insurance product, called Kinga Kilimo (Protect Your Farm) in 10 counties across Kenya, with plans to roll out to the rest of Kenya in the following year. It is hoped that Jubilee’s affordable, easy-to-access crop insurance product will go some way to eliminating the financial risks to smallholder farmers enabling them to provide for their families and take calculated risks on innovations like improved hybrid seeds or fertilizers that can increase yields and raise incomes.

The insurance industry may also indirectly address the issue by discouraging individuals to eat meat, dairy and other animal products by recognising the health risks they pose. The amount of animal products the policyholder consumers could be considered alongside other rating factors. For example, Health I.Q., an American Insurance provider, offers special rate insurance products for health conscious vegans.

References

Image: Maxime Niyomwungeri https://unsplash.com/photos/UdhpcfImQ9Y

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, ‘Animal Agriculture’, http://www.fao.org/animal-production/en/.

Poore, J and Nemecek, T. (2018) ‘Reducing food’s environmental impact through producers and consumers.’ Science 360 (6392), pp 987-992. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6392/987

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations ‘Livestock's Long Shadow: environmental issues and options’, 2006. http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.HTM

Mekonnen, Mesfin M. & Hoekstra, Arjen Y. "A Global Assessment of the Water Footprint of Farm Animal Products". Ecosystems (2012) 15: 401-415. http://temp.waterfootprint.org/Reports/Mekonnen-Hoekstra-2012-WaterFootprintFarmAnimalProducts.pdf

World Health Organization, ‘Q&A on the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat’ 2015. http://www.who.int/features/qa/cancer-red-meat/en/

World Health Organization, ‘Obesity and Overweight,’ 2018. http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, ‘Tackling Climate Change through Livestock: a Global Assessment of Emissions and Mitigation Opportunities’, 2013. http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3437e.pdf.

Resonance Global, ‘An Insurance Product for Rural Farmers’, 2017. https://resonanceglobal.com/insurance-product-designed-africas-rural-farmers/

Health I.Q., ‘5 reasons why vegans should get a lower rate on life insurance’. https://www.healthiq.com/life-insurance/research-vegan

 

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Events calendar

  • IFoA Members Reception, South Africa

    Terrace area, Garden Court Sandton City, Cnr. West & Maude Streets, Sandown, Johannesburg, 2196
    21 October 2019

    Spaces available

    We warmly invite you to join us for a drinks reception, with the opportunity to meet Marjorie Ngwenya, past President of the IFoA, and Ben Kemp, General Counsel.

  • CAA Global Event, South Africa

    Sandton Convention Centre, 161 Maude St, Sandown, Sandton, 2196, South Africa
    22 October 2019

    Spaces available

    CAA Global warmly invites you to join us for a networking reception at the ASSA lounge, with the opportunity to meet Ben Kemp, Director, CAA Global, Mike Mcdougall, CEO of ASSA, and Marjorie Ngwenya, Past President of the IFoA.

  • KSS Event – GAD: the 100 year life (Edinburgh)

    KPMG  Saltire Court 20 Castle Terrace Edinburgh EH1 2EG
    22 October 2019

    Spaces available

    The Government Actuary’s Department (GAD) marks its centenary this year. George Russell, formerly Deputy Government Actuary, who currently heads up GAD’s Edinburgh office, leading on GAD support to the devolved administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland, will outline GAD’s development over that period and its range of work today. Having just “celebrated” his 25th anniversary of joining GAD, George will also reflect on some of the challenges and opportunities of advising at the interface of the actuarial and the political worlds.

  • KSS Event – Equity Release Mortgages: The Irish Experience

    Room CM S.01 (Second floor, Colin Maclaurin Building, building 22 on the campus map.) Campus maps can be found at https://www.hw.ac.uk/uk/edinburgh/map.htm
    23 October 2019

    Spaces available

    This is a co-branded KSS/Heriot-Watt University event.  Equity release mortgages (ERMs), also called lifetime mortgages, have played an increasing role in generating income for retired home-owners.  As new liquidity rules have reduced the supply of bank lending, so insurers have stepped in, encouraged by generous regulatory treatment for annuity writers.

  • KSS event – GAD: the 100 year life (Glasgow)

    Barnett Waddingham 163 West George Street, Glasgow, G2 2JJ
    24 October 2019

    Spaces available

    The Government Actuary’s Department (GAD) marks its centenary this year. George Russell, formerly Deputy Government Actuary, who currently heads up GAD’s Edinburgh office, leading on GAD support to the devolved administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland, will outline GAD’s development over that period and its range of work today. Having just “celebrated” his 25th anniversary of joining GAD, George will also reflect on some of the challenges and opportunities of advising at the interface of the actuarial and the political worlds.

  • Sessional Meeting - Autonomous Vehicles and impacts on the wider insurance industry

    Staple Inn, High Holborn, London WC1V 7QJ         
    28 October 2019

    Spaces available

    The Sessional Meeting is now fully booked.

    Please click here to register on the waiting list.

    The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries is running a sessional meeting on autonomous vehicles on 28th October.  The session will showcase the work of the IFoA “Autonomous Vehicles” working party alongside a number of expert external presenters. 

  • ARC Event: Beyond Proportional Hazards

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    30 October 2019

    Spaces available

    ARC Event: Beyond Proportional Hazards: Statistical methods for assessment of the impact of medical advances and health interventions on longevity and population projections.

    This workshop is being delivered by the Actuarial Research Centre’s (ARC) ‘Big Health and Actuarial Data’ Research Programme.

  • Hot Topics in Health and Care: Networking and Drinks

    Staple Inn, 4 High Holborn, London WC1V 6DR
    4 November 2019

    Spaces available

    This evening will feature two new cases studies that highlight the implications for insurers of issues impacting on health and mortality for life, pensions, and health and care products; Impactability modelling: a worked example in Type II diabetes presented by Josephine Robertson, and Seasonal Mortality in England and Wales 1993-2016 presented by Mary Hall, Dublin City University.

  • SIAS Event: Introduction to the Mortality Research Steering Committee (MRSC)

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    5 November 2019

    Spaces available

    The MRSC is responsible for guiding the profession’s research in the areas of longevity, mortality and morbidity such that it is recognised as a thought leader in this area. It has recently been reviewing what the priorities and have identified 6 areas that we believe are the most important areas of research that should be the current focus and these are:

  • Spaces available

    On behalf of the International Actuarial Association’s (IAA) Banking Working Group, the Actuarial Society of South Africa’s (ASSA) Banking Committee and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ (IFoA) Banking Member Interest Group, you are invited to participate in the upcoming webinar entitled Career opportunities in Banking: Retail and Group Risk.

    The actuarial profession has much to offer the world of banking. In this second webinar on opportunities for actuaries in banking, we have three actuaries sharing their experiences:

  • IFoA CPD Co-ordinators' Briefing

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn London WC1V 7QJ
    7 November 2019

    Spaces available

    The theme of this year’s annual briefing is: Lifelong Learning – providing continuous development for our members.

    This event is primarily for volunteer CPD Co-ordinators, who attend to represent their organisation. CPD Co-ordinators play a key role in effective engagement between organisations who employ our members and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFOA).

  • The challenges for AI in Autonomous driving – Professor Andrew Blake

    Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, 11 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JQ
    11 November 2019

    Spaces available

    In conjunction with the Scottish Board and supporting the IFoA’s focus on data science.

    The IFoA’s Scottish Board have arranged for UK pioneer in Computer Vision and Machine Intelligence, Professor Andrew Blake to speak to delegates on the subject of AI in Autonomous driving. This lecture will focus on safety-critical operation and the computation of risk.  

  • Autumn Pension Seminar

    Grand Connaught Rooms, 61-65 Great Queen St, Holborn, London WC2B 5DA
    13 November 2019

    Spaces available

    Join us for this brand new seminar that brings together our Current Issues in Pensions, Pensions and the Law, and Investment for Pension Actuaries events. The seminar builds on the IFoA’s Annual Pension Conference with sessions covering CDC, TPR’s code of practice, investments, legal updates and Professional Skills Training with a focus on interactive discussion throughout.

  • KSS event: How is Scotland’s population changing and what are the implications?

    Barnett Waddingham, 163 West George Street, Glasgow, G2 2JJ
    14 November 2019

    Spaces available

    The National Records of Scotland (NRS) collects, preserves and produces information about Scotland's people and history to inform current and future generations - work that underpins the fabric of Scottish society and tells the story of our nation. This KSS talk will explore the following and other areas impacting Scotland’s changing population, and assess the potential implications of the changes:

    • population statistics
    • life expectancy
    • changes in age structure
    • birth and death rates, including causes of death statistics.
  • Professional Skills Training - Edinburgh (14 November 19)

    IFoA (Edinburgh), Level 2, Exchange Crescent 7 Conference Square Edinburgh EH3 8RA
    14 November 2019

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • Life Conference 2019

    The Convention Centre Dublin, Spencer Dock, North Wall Quay, Dublin 1
    20-22 November 2019
    Spaces available

    The Life Conference is the premier event for professionals interested in life insurance.  Offering a wide range of workshops and plenary sessions it’s the perfect opportunity to discover what’s hot and current in life insurance ensuring you get up to date on the latest thinking and innovation whilst meeting and exchanging ideas with a broad range of professionals.

  • Professional Skills Training - London (20 November 2019)

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn London WC1V 7Q
    20 November 2019

    Spaces available

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • ARC Workshop: Modelling Socio-Economic Differences in English Mortality

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    2 December 2019

    Spaces available

    Purpose
    The workshop will give participants detailed insights into how a large and detailed dataset can be used to assess levels of mortality inequality in England, using a number of novel statistical methods. We will also address the question: are regional variations in mortality real or imaginary?

  • Autumn Lecture 2019, London - Dr Kay Swinburne

    Lincoln's Inn The Treasury Office, London WC2A 3TL
    2 December 2019

    Fully booked.

    Change of Speaker Notification

    Thank you for registering for the IFoA’s 2019 Autumn Lecture event. As you know, we had originally invited the Rt. Hon Nicky Morgan to speak, however, her appointment to Government as a senior Minister means she has subsequently left her position as Chair of the Treasury Select Committee. Unfortunately, in her new role, she will no longer be able to speak at our event.

  • Autumn Lecture 2019: Live Streaming

    Webinar 
    2 December 2019

    Spaces available

    Change of Speaker Notification

    Thank you for registering for the IFoA’s 2019 Autumn Lecture event. As you know, we had originally invited the Rt. Hon Nicky Morgan to speak, however, her appointment to Government as a senior Minister means she has subsequently left her position as Chair of the Treasury Select Committee. Unfortunately, in her new role, she will no longer be able to speak at our event.

  • Professional Skills Training - Edinburgh (3 December 19)

    IFoA (Edinburgh), Level 2, Exchange Crescent 7 Conference Square Edinburgh EH3 8RA
    3 December 2019

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • SIAS Event: Discount Rates are Flawed

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    3 December 2019

    Spaces available

    This talk will be given by Jon Spain who, as far back as 1983, has been working independently, trying to bring “long-term” back to UK actuarial thinking. His current focus is on discount rates (see discrate.com).

  • A holistic study into Cash flow Driven Investment

    Staple Inn, 4 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 6DR, UK
    4 December 2019

    Spaces available

    Given that Cashflow Driven Investment strategy has attracted growing interests from pension funds and insurers at the backdrop of current market conditions and clients’ circumstances, the objective of this event is to gather thought leaders from asset managers, banks and insurers to offer attendees their perspectives and insights on main aspects of consideration when adopting this strategy.

  • Professional Skills Training - London (10 December 2019)

    Staple Inn, High Holborn, London WC1V 7QJ  
    10 December 2019

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • SIAS Event: My Journey to Data Science, Big Data and AI

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    7 January 2020

    Spaces available

    Patrick Lee is an actuary who has made the transition to working in software architecture and artificial intelligence (AI). He holds Microsoft Professional qualifications in Data Science, Big Data and AI and is currently working towards a DevOps (the automation of software testing and deployment) qualification. He is a member of the IFoA Council and is also President of the Wessex Actuarial Society. He is also a member of the IFoA and the RSS's joint Data Science Focus Group and will talk on the ethical use of AI. 

  • Behavioural Finance Research Launch- 14 January 2020

    Staple Inn, 4 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 6DR
    14 January 2020

    Fully booked.

    We are delighted to announce the launch of the findings from our ARC funded Behavioural Finance research with a special evening event at Staple Inn on Tuesday 14th January 2020. Entitled Behavioural Aspects of Institutional Investment Decision-Making, this research programme is being delivered by City, University of London, Leeds University Business School and Ipsos.

    This event is now full. Please register for the waiting list.

  • IFoA Volunteer Recognition Reception

    Staple Inn, 4 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 6DR, UK
    15 January 2020

    Spaces available

    As a thank you to all our Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) volunteers, you are invited to join us at Staple Inn Hall, for an evening of drinks, canapes and networking, in London.

    IFoA President, John Taylor, will be attending and will make a speech

    If you support the IFoA as a volunteer (member or non-member), or in any other role, and you are going to be in London on 15 January, please book your place and join us at this reception.

     

  • Professional Skills Training - London (16 January 2020)

    Staple Inn, High Holborn, London WC1V 7QJ
    16 January 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • Professional Skills Training - Edinburgh (23 January 2020)

    IFoA (Edinburgh), Level 2, Exchange Crescent 7 Conference Square Edinburgh EH3 8RA
    23 January 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • Professional Skills Training - London (11 February 2020)

    Staple Inn, High Holborn, London WC1V 7QJ         
    11 February 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.

  • Sessional: Impact of E-cigarettes Working Party

    Royal College of Physicians, 9 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JQ
    24 February 2020

    Spaces available

    This sessional meeting will be of direct interest to actuaries and others working in the in the Health and Care, Life or Pensions sectors or indeed actuaries with an interest in morbidity or mortality.

  • Professional Skills Training - Edinburgh (25 February 2020)

    IFoA (Edinburgh), Level 2, Exchange Crescent 7 Conference Square Edinburgh EH3 8RA
    25 February 2020

    Spaces available

    A Trusted Profession

    A 2 hour CPD event designed to meet the IFoA’s Stage 3 Professional Skills Training under the IFoA’s CPD Scheme 2019/2020This session is suitable for actuaries working in any area (i.e. it is not specifically aimed at Pensions, GI or any other technical discipline) and is interactive, so you should come along prepared to take part in the discussions.