OERS briefing note 2019-02-04

Based on six months of consultation we are developing an Environmental Risk Constellation (a federated partnership programme) to:

  • develop an open standard for sharing environmental risk modelling information;
  • create sufficient momentum to reach an ‘escape velocity’ that drives engagement and adoption; to…
  • enable a step-change in economic, social and environmental outcomes that unlocks the multi-trillion dollar market opportunity in the use and application of risk information.

This is a bold, date and data-driven culture-changing project, to lay solid foundations to democratise risk information in the next 2-5 years and drive its usage to create material, real-world impacts.

In our definition of a ‘standard’ we aim to set the bar for a standard of operation and behaviour, as well as clearly defined process and technology levers that support them. Our definition of ‘environment’ embodies our society, economy and ecological systems.

The Open Environmental Risk Standard (OERS) is designed to inspire and catalyse the culture change required to scale and meet the challenges articulated by science and adopted by policy makers. Its development will be based on bringing together individuals around open, expert and collaborative values. As a living standard, it will be built around use-cases and user needs; its design and governance will enable it to continuously adapt and evolve based on real-world data.

To enable better decisions to be made and provide decision-support on uncertainty, we aim to enable an environment that the market co-creates, understands and engages with, and that regulators can build upon to encode into future legislative and regulatory mechanisms. Measures of success will include adoption of the OERS by more than 10% of the risk modelling practitioner market globally (est. 10,000 experts).

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By March 2019, we will convene six working groups, a governance group and steering group to develop the open standard.

By May 2019, we will publish a report that outlines how a standard may be implemented; defining roles, budgets and timelines. The report will address economic, social and environmental impact use cases, clear descriptions of potential stakeholders and evidence of their needs, and map the long-term governance and resource requirements of the standard.

The working groups will focus on:

  1. Policy
    Providing strategic leadership and governance; framing and analysing economic, IP, legal and regulatory impacts (e.g. data ethics, security) and highlighting opportunities, challenges and threats.
  2. Culture
    Creating compelling peer, press and public communications strategies and engagement plans that both address concerns and inspire people in organisations to engage in the solutions and change behaviours.
  3. Making
    Operating frameworks that unlock funding and innovation: commissioning startups, running innovation competitions and programmes to create practice-based evidence that illustrate the challenges and highlight business opportunities.
  4. Learning
    Defining evidence-based, sustainable business models that are anchored around user-needs. Defining training, research and funding needs that will aid implementation and accelerate culture change.
  5. Standards
    Defining common human and machine processes that enable repeatability and scalability within commercial and non-commercial environments.
  6. Infrastructure
    Defining and framing how people and machines will create, use and share data, algorithms and open APIs to achieve sustainable impact. Addressing issues scope and licensing.

The approach to delivering these outputs is supported by our Terms of Reference, which we will publish in due course.


Having convened thirty domain experts to explore “Would an Open Environmental Risk Standard help create impact?”, we identified needs, gaps, challenges and opportunities.


  • a culture shift in the sector regarding data and information sharing
  • an open data set on climate (and other) risk information, within a common framework
  • effectively cost and anchor around common metrics
  • a very broad range of climate (and other) risk information
  • a global value system and governance regime around vulnerability
  • political leadership and accountability


  • in the market around use of weather and climate information services
  • in training and skills to use information, or where to start
  • in joined-up skills on how to blend the science with investment


  • we do not understand the risks and do not yet have the tools to solve the problem
  • convening multiple stakeholders including Enterprises, SMEs, Startups, NGOs, Government depts, Universities, Investors and Citizens


  • move climate risk from a defensive to opportunistic business pace
  • assessment of reliability and quality over data and products
  • for cities to act on incentive mechanisms faster than national initiatives
  • greater data sharing (e.g. IoT data, energy data, logistics data, asset-level data, supply-chain data) to help model and minimise risk
  • for new certification processes to emerge
  • competitive, collective and collaborative behaviour across the system
  • anticipation-triggered insurance, forecast-based financing, fully adjusted insurance options

We identified that there was a focus on specific ‘solutions’ to address specific issues, which is valid, but potentially missed the opportunity to bind together many issues into a broader systems-approach to the challenge that could be collectively addressed.  We further identified additional multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary actors and technologies that could potentially be brought into discussion.

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