Tackling Climate Change with Dr. Oliver Eitelwein of Oliver Wyman

May 23, 2024

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Dr. Oliver Eitelwein is a partner in Oliver Wyman’s Health and Life Sciences Practice. He can draw on almost 20 years of practical strategy consulting experience at well-known companies in the industry. His main areas of activity are in the pharmaceutical, biotech, in-vitro diagnostics, and agrochemicals segments. He is a proven expert in the areas of corporate strategy, supply chain and operations, digital transformation, digital healthcare, and sustainability and has published more than 25 studies, management articles, and books.

John Shegerian: Do you have a suggestion for a Rockstar Impact Podcast guest? Go to impactpodcast.com and just click Be a Guest to recommend someone today. This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet and your privacy and is the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company in the United States, and maybe even the world. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit eridirect.com. This episode of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by Closed Loop Partners. Closed Loop Partners is a leading circular economy investor in the United States with an extensive network of Fortune 500 corporate investors, family offices, institutional investors, industry experts and Impact partners. Closed Loop’s platform spans the Arc of Capital from Venture Capital to Private Equity, bridging gaps and fostering synergies to scale the circular economy. To find Closed Loop Partners, please go to www.closedlooppartners.com.

John: Welcome to another edition of the Impact Podcast. I’m John Shegerian and I’m so honored to have with us today. Dr. Oliver Eitelwein. He’s the partner of the Health and Life Sciences practice at Oliver Wyman. Welcome Oliver to the Impact podcast.

Dr. Oliver Eitelwein: Hi John. Thanks for inviting me. Really appreciate it.

John: Hey, thank you for staying up a little late. I’m sitting here in Fresno, California and you’re sitting in Germany. Which part of Germany are you in right now?

Oliver: I’m living in Dusseldorf. That’s on the Western part of Germany.

John: I’ve been to Dusseldorf. It’s a beautiful city. Again, thank you for staying up a little late to take this episode. I know our listeners and our viewers are going to be really happy after they listen to you. Before we get talking about all the important stuff you’re doing in Health and Life Sciences at Oliver Wyman, can we talk a little bit about you? Where did you grow up Oliver and how did you get on this fascinating and wonderful and important journey that you’re on?

Oliver: Thanks a lot. So I grew up in a small town in the West End Park, very close to Luxembourg. It’s a town called Trier. It’s the oldest city actually in Germany and very much driven by 2,000 years ago where they actually were the home of one of the Roman emperors. So was a long history and grew up there and then I moved to Kassel and became an engineer. Studied there and since 20 years. I’m now in strategy consulting working with the largest multinational companies and my focus area is on pharmaceuticals and healthcare. So I’m working with large pharmaceutical companies, the large med tech companies to understand how we can reshape and support human health at the end, right? So that’s also what’s being driving my engagement and what’s been giving me a lot of purpose and fun in the work I do.

John: Oliver Wyman, explain what Oliver Wyman is. For our listeners and viewers, that’s the company that Oliver works at. Oliver Wyman, W-Y-M-A-N, oliverwyman.com. Explain what that is and how big it is and how far it’s reach is so our listeners or viewers who are not familiar with it can get a better understanding.

Oliver: Sure. Happy to do so. So Oliver Wyman is one of the top four strategic consulting firms globally. We roughly have three billion revenues in strategy consulting with practices or offices globally in all the key centers for commercial centers globally and a very, very big part also in the US. We are part of a company called Marsh McLennan, which is a New York Stock Exchange listed company and one of the largest also insurance companies as well in professional service firms. So we are actually part of the US economic sphere quite heavily. As a strategy consulting firm, we work across sectors with all the key players that are out there and help them drive performance and impact.

John: So your role as Health and Life Sciences practice partner, explain what that means actually Oliver.

Oliver: So I have two roles actually. My sector role is Health and Life Sciences. So that means we are working with the large Pharma med tech companies, healthcare companies like hospitals, providers, payers, and serve them as a sector. That’s where my sector expertise in. On the other side, functionally I’m actually working very heavily in the sustainability area since many years and that’s also where our work here came from. From working around supporting the companies build out strategies to support the climate change and support the, becoming more sustainable and supporting our well being on the planet.

John: So it’s a merger, it’s a convergence of sustainability and climate change you’re working on more specifically.

Oliver: Yes. I’m the intersection.

John: Intersection.

Oliver: Yes, and I’ve started that journey actually interestingly more than 40 years ago. We were working on a research project in Germany with one of the leading business schools and we were looking at, back then we have Katrina, you probably remember the tropical storms and climate was, I am the gender. We working on Calvin Accounting and Calvin Controlling back that. So published first studies. Unfortunately, then the hive went down pretty quick and for a couple of years actually this whole topic went down but I think since for five years now, everyone has understood that this is a really, really important topic for us, especially with the IPCC studies that have shown the climate change which all the events that we are seeing, right? With wildfires in Canada or California, with flooding, with new tropical storms that this is actually a reality and I’m quite thrilled that now this is being taken as a real priority since couple of years to change things.

John: All of Rome, 61 years old and I’ve lived 30 years in California, my first 30 years I lived in New York City. Both regions that I live in and still love greatly New York and California are unrecognizable to me in terms of their climate patterns today as opposed to when I was a much younger man. Recently your team put together a report with the World Economic Forum for quantifying the impact of climate change on human health and we’re going to put that report in our show notes so our listeners and viewers can access that great report. Can we talk a little bit about that? Why was that chosen as your team’s research? Let’s go into that report and the importance of what your findings were.

Oliver: Yeah, so the starting point for that study was actually a discussion with Shee Ambition[?] who was the board member of the World Economic Forum and he’s leading the healthcare center of the World Economic Forum and we were discussing, hey, how can we understand better what the intersection of climate change and healthcare is and what we will need to do for example for the life science industry to prepare for that, right? So that was the starting point. We had a really great discussion and we agreed on a joint journey and said, from our side that we would also invest in there with pro bono project teams to make sure that we better understand this. While we were then going into the topic, interestingly one thing that can we clear after couple of weeks and I think the interest most interesting quote I got there was from a leading academic exit from the US. Time it week in New York who said, “Look, we know better the impact of climate on our wildlife than on human health.” She was saying, “Hey look, there’s research, there’s a lot of pockets that are being researched, but we’re missing these big studies that really put the things together.” That was also very much in line with what we were seeing. We had a lot of different data points. We had qualitative views on what the impact could be but there were no studies that would bring the things together or try to make one first starting point as a picture of how big the impact could be on both the human health part. So on mortality, on chronic diseases and what does that mean in terms of additional burden for our healthcare systems and for our GDP because chronic people are less productive. So there’s also a major impact on our well-being. So that was the starting point. So we actually then agreed to put a team on this for almost a year pro bono with the graph and work with them and various other partners. There was the Welcome Trust in there, there was Rockefeller Foundation. We had discussions and interactions with the World Bank and the WHO to bring together first piece charting. Charting the impacts of climate on healthcare. That was the idea around it and that brought this to birth.

John: First of all, for our viewers and listeners who just joined us, we’ve got Dr. Oliver Eitelwein with us. He’s the partner of Health and Life Sciences practice at Oliver Wyman. To find Oliver and his colleagues, please go to Oliver Wyman, W-Y-M-A-N.com, oliverwyman.com. You could also find in our show notes. Want to find the impact of climate change on human health. We’ll have that in the show notes. So let’s just say this is the World Economic Forum today. Give us some of your key takeaways from this very important landmark report that you put together. So our listeners and viewers who aren’t familiar with this report and also some of the impacts that climate change can have on our, all of our health around the world. What is really going on and how concerned should we be Oliver?

Oliver: Sure, happy to do so. So I think, let me start with one starting point that you need to do whenever you go into this. So we used what is called the climate models. So basically the IPCC, that’s the UN body that’s doing all the research or pulling the global research on this together in yearly reports. They have generated different scenarios around the climate change and how they can affect the different areas of the world, yeah? In these IPCC models, you will find six different major climate events, what we call, right? That you need to understand the impact on the human health. These six are wildfires. You’ve seen that quite intensively in Europe. Europe and Mediterranean, in the US. You have droughts. If you go to Africa, for example, it’s quite dramatic and it will become even more traumatic. We have things like heat waves. We’ve seen that in the US but everywhere else, that we have prolonged time period of very high temperature with a severe impact on the population. Then we have the water of the precipitation to even things like floods which have severe impacts, especially on Africa, on Southeast Asia, but also other areas that can drive below lots of vectors of mosquitoes et cetera and diseases. The last two are sea level rise. So you all have heard about islands that will probably not exist anymore in 100 years. But this sea level rise actually affects a lot of the coastal areas globally and it has impact on both the flooding there but also it increases the salination of the GAO. With this has impact on human health. Last but not least, especially in the US or in the America’s tropical storms will also become even more strong and with higher impacts going forward. So these are the six events that can be modeled. So what we took then is we analyze each one individually and try to understand how does that relate to health? How can we get a logical connect from this event to different health outcomes. So we went for example, if you have wildfires, your first impact is deforestation, desertification, could be soil degradation, Then you go on, okay. But there’s also pollution. There’s air quality reduction, right? There can be increased temperatures and so on. All of these have then impacts on different diseases. For example respiratory diseases if you have a wildfire. You’ve seen that in Canada, in New York when the Canada wildfires were raging. You have cardiovascular diseases in heat, for example. You have infectious diseases driven by, for example mosquitoes coming after droughts or after floods. Then in many areas especially in Africa and Southeast Asia, you will also have effects of malnutrition driven by this. So you have something of children, for example as major effects and then heat-related diseases where elderly will either die or will have severe longer-term implications. So there’s a couple of, many of these diseases can be traced indirectly or directly to the events and that’s what we have been trying to do all through existing research. So we always use studies research, academic studies that we’re looking at the different effects.

John: Oliver, this is bad news. What do we do? Here we are in 2024. There’s more science and more facts backing the negative effects of climate change around the world for all of us now. How do we start pushing back and are we too late or are there things we could do to remediate these externalities that now you’ve recognized and you’re identified which are direct results of the climate change?

Oliver: So I think first of all, of course, the best remedy is to prevent this, right? So all the efforts that we see there on NetZero, on reducing carbon, they are absolutely necessary to reduce any impacts. What we modeled is basically what we think realistic scenario given the current trajectory. You see what’s going on around the clock with wars, with still political tensions and reduced focus on several of these things. So what we took is currently a realistic scenario of about 2.723 degree higher temperature by 2100. The first thing that I think is important is to raise awareness. So what we try to do with the report is to wake up. The policymakers wake up, also the academics to invest into further research and to invest into solutions as you said, right? So we’ve brought up a grid of numbers. So the economic impact that we’re talking about here is roughly 12.5 trillion until 2050 in GDP losses and then an additional cost. So this is serious money. We’re talking about 14.5 million deaths until 2050. There’s a seriousness around this to really invest into preparation, right? Is it too late? No, it’s not. I think we still have the chance to reshape many things. But we need to make our healthcare systems more resilient. So we need to invest into measures to make them aware of what and how to address the impacts and how to make them less effectful on the population.

John: Oliver, you’re a doctor, unbelievably studied and smart and you surround yourself with your colleagues, Oliver Wyman are also highly educated and really bright people. Were you shocked by these findings yourself?

Oliver: Yes, I was. When we first saw also the results of bringing the picture together, we were shocked by the size of the impact but also by a factor that is not so obvious if you look at the numbers first. So there’s a lot of depth, yeah? But the bigger effect actually which will have serious effects on our healthcare systems and on our economies is that three-quarters of the effect is what we call morbidity and not mortality. That means we will have severe additional chronic diseases. We will have many people that will for many years be disabled. That is actually something that’s going to have severe effects on our healthcare systems and also on our productivity. That was one of the key findings that we found when we looked through the different times that we can by really understanding how we can prevent some of these things. We will also prevent many people having not-so-nice lives or having actually disabled lives for many years. So it really has a upside to invest in this and take this on as we can still have an impact now, right? Many of the things that we are seeing are going to accelerate in the next 15 years, probably 10, 50 years. So there’s a lot of effect starting 2030 to accelerate. So there’s a couple of years, but it’s not a lot of time.

John: Oliver, will this affect migration, immigration and emigration patterns? A report like this and other reports that are similar and analogous to this report, will this start dictating where people start moving out of and moving into to avoid some of the climate crises and the areas that are going to have more catastrophic results in the coming years?

Oliver: Yes, definitely. Because the most affected areas right now are in the unfortunately also the least from an economic perspective, the lowest income countries. So there’s huge effects in the middle of Africa. These areas, there will be all areas where it’s very hard to live in the future where you will have more malaria impacts, where you have droughts and flooding, both of them. So we will see that this will generate definitely more pressure on the migration.

John: When you mentioned there’s also going to be a rise in mosquito-borne diseases. I would assume that includes dengue fever and things of that such.

Oliver: Malaria. Yes.

John: Malaria. Let’s also take it to the next subtle, if there’s such thing as subtle iteration with this also. Is it quantifiable to say that the impact of climate change on human health could also help precipitate the next pandemic?

Oliver: I wouldn’t call it a pandemic because it’s probably more, it will drastically increase the number of vectors, what we call vector [inaudible].

John: Understood.

Oliver: [inaudible] That can proliferate these diseases. So we would have a lot broader areas when we will see these diseases and there’s also a certain likelihood but very limited studies yet. That they will probably also move into areas where today we wouldn’t see them, right? So be it in America, be it Europe. As we increase the temperatures actually, we also increase the likelihood and the ability of these mosquitoes to live there. So we will see hopefully not in the same manner that we see it in Southeast Asia or Africa,
but we can have more cases going forward.

John: Obviously Oliver Wyman is a very large multinational organization filled with bright people like you doing important work. Is there a division of Oliver Wyman either in your division of Health and Life Sciences practice or other divisions working on the against now on the solutions to these important impactful reports that quantify the impact of climate change on human health?

Oliver: Yes. So we continue our work for one, of course because we see this as a very important area. So there’s a continued effort in two regions. One is to help the private sector understand the problem, really put it on the agenda and also ensure that we have long-term incentives to have for example pharmaceutical companies, med tech companies, but also investors invest in this area. Now the private sector needs to have certain funding for a longer time so that they can make their innovation magic work, right? It’s a system that needs this as an incentive. I think this is important that we think about that. How can we engage that and enable that, both in our economies but also across the country policymakers with the UN or with large foundations that we can enable this and make sure that there’s innovation that can help us prevent things. So that’s one area where we are working on. The other one is also important is on helping the healthcare systems understand the impact and understand what can be measures, what can be solutions for them to become more resilient. We see four areas that are important for resilient healthcare systems. One is what we call the resistance muscle. So it’s being able to prevent any effect. So for example, if there’s a heat wave, can you have early warning systems that can already see this? Can you have, for example in Australia there’s, workers will get a heat sensor so that you can watch the body temperature and don’t go into the areas where you will have impact on your health, right? So there’s a lot of things that you can do to prevent the impact or avoid the spread of it. That’s what we call the resistance muscle and there’s a second muscle that you need to build out, the recovery muscle. That’s basically being able to enable a fast civilization if something happened. If there was a flood, if there was a wildfire that you are able to act fast, give fast recovery measures around care, around being able to change that.

John: Mitigate the damages, mitigate the damages.

Oliver: Damages, right? Quickly so that overall we reduce the impact if we can, right? There’s something that healthcare systems need to probably build out and we need the private sector to help them innovative them, right? We need to have smart digital help startups. Think about it. How we can bring technology into this game, right? Or [inaudible] goes to how to bring vaccinations into the game, right? Different types of drugs, et cetera that can help reduce the impact.

John: How about the public sector? Does this report get delivered to great administrations like the Biden administration and say, “Hey, we want you to be aware of this and you’re doing great with the Investment Recovery Act, but we all need to do better.” This goes to governments across the world because the faster we get to NetZero, the faster we mitigate the damages of climate change and the impacts on the citizens of all the great countries around the world. Is that also part of duality? Besides the private sector, you also have a whole another division that’s facing towards the public sector as well?

Oliver: We’re supporting that and that’s also where the graph comes into play with their quite strength in shaping and supporting policy changes. I think the Biden Administration has actually quite early started this journey. So if I compare that to other countries in the Western world, you’re actually quite advanced in at least at identifying the impacts and study first initiatives, but overall, it’s still at early stage, right? Also our report, I would say it’s a starting point, but we need much more research, right? There’s no unknowns and unknowns, what we call it, that impacts could be bigger, right? So it’s in the responsibility I think of every country to investigate what the individual impacts will be, right? For the US, for the different states to prepare the system there. It can be different by US, can be different for Canada. It can be different for Mexico or for Germany, England, France or Africa. So it’s really important that you understand the micro effects, right? The local effects for one, and second, we need to have much more collaboration across the country. So I was at the COP28 in Dubai four months ago and we had for the first time in 28 years and 28 COPs, there was a health day. So it took us 28 years to realize that there is an impact on the healthcare that’s worth investing in, what’s really a first good point there. They were 120 countries pledging to take this on and start investigating it. There was a pledge of one billion dollars, which is of course a very small amount for this topic, but at least we’re starting off. So the topic is starting to become, it’s getting on the agenda on the priority list and that’s I think a very positive sign.

John: Oliver, where do you go from here? You have this important report, quantifying the impact of climate change on human health. We’re going to have it in our show notes for our listeners and viewers to access it. Well, what’s next for you? Do you continue this research and do a second report? What’s the future look like?

Oliver: We individually, we go and work with the companies now. Our focus is now on how can we help shape impact in this with the Life Sciences’ plans with [inaudible], investors, et cetera, on the one hand. We have also a healthcare division, which is focusing on healthcare Systems et cetera. These partners are of course also addressing the providers, et cetera, the systems to discuss what we can do. So on our side, we are continuing the journey also with the World Economic Forum to keep the topic on top of the agenda possible.

John: Got it. Wonderful. Oliver, thank you for your time today. Thank you for sharing this very important report. For our listeners and viewers again, to find Oliver and his colleagues and all the important work they’re doing in Health and Life Sciences, please go to Oliver Wyman, W-Y-M-A-N.com, oliverwyman.com. Oliver, you’re always welcome back on the Impact Podcast. Continue your great work. We thank you for all you’re doing and thank you and your colleagues at Oliver Wyman for making the world a more sustainable and a better place.

Oliver: Thank you. Thank you very much John. Really appreciate the great discussion. Thank you.

John: This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by Engage. Engage is a digital booking platform revolutionizing the talent-booking industry. With thousands of athletes, celebrities, entrepreneurs and business leaders, Engage is the go-to spot for booking talent, for speeches, custom experiences, livestreams and much more. For more information on Engage or to book talent today, visit letsengage.com. This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet and your privacy, and is the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company in the United States, and maybe even the world. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit eridirect.com.


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