Amrae's January conference promises to be an interesting and entertaining experience

Deauville, the resort on the Normandy coast of France close to the mouth of the Seine, is famous for racehorses, its links with the Impressionists, and – despite being built in the nineteenth century – for remaining the place to be seen on a hot summer weekend, if you are a smart Parisian.

Between 23 and 25 January 2008, it will also be the place to be seen for members of the French risk management community and for others from further afield. For Deauville is once again the destination for next year’s 16th annual conference of AMRAE, the French risk managers’ association.

While sunloungers and beach huts may be in short supply at that time of year, there will be a sufficiently varied programme of speeches, debates and workshops to keep most people happy, not to mention the glittering after-hours social life.

The theme of the conference is to be ‘Risk: Between fear and reason’ – perhaps an exceptionally percipient choice by the organisers in the face of the uncertainties posed by the credit crunch. According to Michel Yarhi, current AMRAE president, it was chosen because of the need for the risk manager to apply reason to counteract fear of the unknown, and to act on what reason suggests before taking expensive measures merely from fear of what might occur. Programme

The opening session on the Wednesday afternoon will see speeches given by Gérard Lancner, incoming president of AMRAE, Jean Azema, president of Groupama, and Philippe Jurgensen, president of ACAM (the supervisory authority for insurers and mutuals), together with reflections from Jean-Louis Bruguiere, magistrate, and André Comte- Sponville, philosopher.

On the Friday morning a round table discussion will explore the idea of keeping civilian populations safe in the face of threats – and just what the limits of the state and of private enterprise can or should be in such concerns. Participants will include a member of the chief committee for French civil defence and the interministerial delegate responsible for the battle against avian flu.

In a new departure for AMRAE, the second session of the morning will be given over to a debate between two speakers – deliberately chosen for their opposing viewpoints – on the questions of sustainable development and climate change. The debate ought to be, promises Michel Yarhi, ‘extremely lively’.

“A round table discussion will explore the idea of keeping civilian populations safe in the face of threats

Thursday, as usual, is devoted to workshops. This year – with half an eye on the ‘geographical and climatic links between Deauville and the Britain’, three of them are being branded as the ‘British view’, with several of the presenters being invited from among AIRMIC members. The emphasis is to be firmly pragmatic and based on practical experience. ‘ERM – consultant-speak or catalyst for value enhancement?’ will discuss the preliminary findings of an

A round table discussion will explore the idea of keeping civilian populations safe in the face of threats Destination Deauville AIRMIC-sponsored research project on the subject of enterprise risk management.

‘Everything you wanted to know about risk maps but were afraid to ask’ will look at the pros and cons of these favourite tools and ask who uses them, what for, and how often. Nick Chown, from the Metropolitan police will be among the presenters (See November’s Strategic Risk for the Met’s experiences in this field.)

The last of the ‘British view’ workshops looks at insurance broker and carrier performance and how risk managers set about evaluating it. All the ‘British view’ workshops will have simultaneous translation facilities.

Among the French workshops, several in the Thursday morning session stand out as likely to be of interest.

‘The explosion at AZF – Risk management faced with the ultimate reality’ will appeal to those who like detailed case studies, while ‘Industries faced with the greenhouse effect’ promises to provide guidance through the intricacies of Kyoto and carbon trading.

The afternoon session spreads a wide net: there are workshops on reputation, stress, pollution and mediation, while for those who like to think about the future of their profession, there are sessions on risk management as a strategic tool, and on the shifting of risk management from insurable risks to uninsurable ones. Michel Yarhi is hoping for approximately 1500 delegates to attend the Deauville conference this year. They are unlikely to return home without having found something of interest.