“Make data-at-scale work harder
to deliver innovative financing
for a carbon-zero future”

4-min read

It has been quite the year, ending on a high with the securing of a new six-figure grant award.

I would like to start by saying say thank you to everyone for their enthusiasm, support and help in getting us this far. There are now over a dozen organisations signing up, country-level engagements emerging and over 250 people on our newsletter, purely through word-of-mouth.

  1. 18 months of development and iteration
  2. More pictures; fewer words
    • What’s in-scope?
    • What data; which sector; with whom?
    • Governance?
    • What is Shared Data?
  3. Funding secured for industry innovation
  4. Team
  5. What next?
    • Membership
    • SERI
    • Country engagements

18 months of development and iteration

Icebreaker One was initiated based on a Climate KIC workshop (led by Julie Calkins) in 2018, with about 30 insurers—to address the ‘elephant in the room’ across the industry. 

Two needs emerged:

  • “How do we create new business models?”
  • “Bring us all the data”

We started on the “access to data” question with Julie, Scott WilliamsDickie Whitaker and Claire Souch helping us to map the ecosystem. 

In February we held a workshop with experts across risk modelling, insurance, science, data, standards and policy—showing broad interest in exploring an open standard (working title: Open Environmental Risk Standard) that would help enable data interoperability at scale, working on shared data to create both public and private good. 

In AprilBen Cotton kindly hosted us to identify and validate user needs. Facilitated by Tim Davies, we unpacked personas including asset owners, investors, insurers, disaster planning offices and urban planners. 

User needs workshop in April

Working as a distributed constellation of over 20 experts, we co-authored a discussion paper (5-page summary and a 70-page open-to-comment Gdoc) and launch it at the UN DRR Global Platform in Geneva in May.

Icebreaker One at the UN Disaster Risk Reduction Global Platform in Geneva in May

In July, with the support of Bryony Worthington, we hosted a roundtable discussion at the House of Lords which highlighted seven areas for action, including creating a roadmap for (UK) political leadership to 2050.

Over the summer, to validate our thinking, we spoke with over 280 individuals from over 180 organisations. We established that access to market-essential data was siloed and ‘high friction’ (hard to find, access and use) and that no one had the role of addressing this collective action challenge.

 We mapped ~200 organisations, initiatives and efforts across the CEFID ecosystem (Climate, Environment, Finance, Insurance and Data) to help confirm that no one is working on access to shared data (as opposed to open data) and help us all navigate who is doing what. 

With this evidence and the support of Climate KIC, we registered Icebreaker One as a non-profit to make data-at-scale work harder to deliver innovative financing for a carbon-zero future. The design parameters for the organisation are a blend of what I’ve built before at the ODIOpen Banking Standard and AMEE.

In September, with the support of 16 founding members, we opened our doors at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York and began building use-cases to identify specific, granular, scalable business needs and value points.

Icebreaker One at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York in September

In October we published initial regulatory advice, working with the UK’s FCA and PRA.

In November we met with the Energy Regulators and Ministry for Environment in New Zealand to discuss collaboration in 2020.

In December, at COP25 in Madrid, we presented Icebreaker One and co-hosted a workshop with Solvere Infraestructuras to convene industry, policy and research to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing Spain. We also discussed Icebreaker One with Mami Mizutori.

Icebreaker One and Solvere Infraestructuras workshop in Madrid in December

Volker Buscher hosted a dinner to discuss scenarios and applications, including a trip to see Wayne Binitie’s ‘Ice Floor’ which is installed in Arup’s London HQ.

Wayne Binitie’s ‘Ice Floor’

More pictures; fewer words

Trying to convey any new idea is extremely hard. Getting the right words and pictures takes a lot of time, feedback and iteration.  Here are our current iterations.

What’s in-scope? (the red bits)
What data; which sector; with whom?
Governance and Action Nodes?
What is Shared Data?

Funding secured for industry innovation

We have closed out the year with the award of substantial funding (high £six-figure), working with partners including Willis Towers Watson, Lloyds Register, AON, Brit Insurance, Arup, Agvesto, Bird & Bird, DIAS and the University of Cambridge. 

Codenamed SERI (Standard for Environment, Risk and Insurance), we will announce more details about this in the new year when everyone has regrouped. 


Thank you to our team: our founding advisory board: BryonyVolkerJulieScottCeleste Connors and Irene Graham, and the emerging Icebreaker Constellation of experts.  Special thanks go to Gea Mikic, who has led as Programme Manager over the last year, to Rachel Sussman for the use of the wonderful photos and to Anne Wainwright for the use of Chris’s iceberg photo

What next?

“Make data-at-scale work harder
to deliver innovative financing
for a carbon-zero future”

1. Membership

Based on the success of this year, we are now rolling out our membership and sponsorship packages to bring together the coalition of the willing: https://ib1.org/membership/

2. SERI 

We have set a target to have discovered, designed, implemented and (via members) tested a product in the market prior to COP26 in Glasgow. We hope this will help drive new members to lean in and explore the commercial value of financial, data and product innovation.

3. Country engagements

Working with partners, we will forge relationships with countries to ensure Icebreaker One is a global effort. Strong conversations are developing in New Zealand, Hawaii, Scotland, Canada, South Africa, and the UK.

Signing off now for 2019 and all the best for 2020,

Gavin & the Icebreakers