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Michael Szönyi

Flood Resilience Program Lead, Zurich Insurance

Michael Szönyi is member of executive staff in the Group’s Sustainability function with Zurich Insurance Group, based at Corporate Center in Switzerland. He leads Zurich's award-winning Flood Resilience Program, a multi-sector alliance with academia, humanitarian organizations and the private sector, aiming to enhance community flood resilience. The program, originally started in 2012, was recently extended to run in a second phase from 2018-2024 as part of Zurich’s Climate Resilience strategy and is now operating community programs, knowledge and advocacy as well as research in over 20 countries globally.

With his natural hazards expertise, Mr. Szönyi is also responsible for advising the company and all alliance partners on risk insights and risk mitigation strategies as part of the program. A center piece is the implementation of the self-developed flood resilience measurement framework across our program countries and implement resilience interventions to make vulnerable communities more resilient to flooding. In addition, Michael is leading the post-event review function (PERC) which helps learn how big natural events turn into humanitarian disasters, and engages with technical experts and public policy functions to enhance the role of insurance in disaster risk reduction and prevention.

Mr. Szönyi currently has advisory mandates to the United Nations High-Level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters (“UN HELP”) and to the European Union’s H2020 community resilience project (“RESILOC”). He serves as Vice-Chair of the Sustainability Working Group of “Insurance Europe”, the European (Re-)Insurance Federation.

Before joining the flood resilience program at its outset in 2012 and taking over as its leader in 2016, Mr. Szönyi previously led the Global Technical Center for Natural Hazards in Risk Engineering. He has 15 years of insurance industry experience, all with Zurich. He has significant expertise in property and natural hazards related risk assessments for commercial customers.

Mr. Szönyi has Master Degrees in Natural Hazards Management and in Geophysics, both from ETH Zurich.

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