UN & World’s Insurers Launch Global Insurance Principles at Rio+20 to Propel Sustainable Development

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Landmark principles create United Nations-backed global insurance industry initiative to support the development of a green economy and resilient communities
INDIACSR News Network

Rio de Janeiro: Close to 30 leading companies from the insurance industry, worth over  USD 5 trillion in total assets and representing over 10 per cent of world premium volume, together with insurance associations from different regions around the world, have joined a UN-backed process to promote a set of Principles for Sustainable Insurance that aim to green the sector and provide insurance tools for risk management in support of environmental, social and economic sustainability.

The Principles provide a holistic approach to managing a wide range of global and emerging risks in the insurance business, from climate change and natural disasters to water scarcity, food insecurity and pandemics.

They represent the first-ever global sustainability framework tailored for the insurance industry that takes into account the fundamental economic value of natural capital, social capital and good governance.

The Principles also aim to position the insurance industry as a lever for a green economy and sustainable development.

Signatory companies will publicly disclose their progress in implementing the Principles for Sustainable Insurance on an annual basis.

The Principles are a result of a six-year global development process carried out by the UN Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), a strategic initiative involving the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and financial institutions worldwide. In 2006, UNEP FI created a working group of leading insurers to study the impacts of a wide range of environmental, social and governance issues on the insurance business and sustainable development. This group was initially co-chaired by AXA and Insurance Australia Group and is currently chaired by Munich Re.

UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, lauded the Principles as a historic initiative and a major contribution to the aims of the Rio+20 Conference, which seeks to advance good governance and environmental, social and economic development. The Green Economy in the context of poverty alleviation and sustainable development is a major Rio+20 theme.

Ban Ki-moon, said: “For years, insurers have been at the forefront of the corporate world in alerting society to the risks of climate change and, more recently, threats such as the loss of biological diversity and the growing pressures on forests, freshwater and other essential ecosystems. Insurers are also increasingly recognizing the need to develop products and services that address the needs of a rapidly changing world, including inclusive insurance that caters to low-income communities, people with HIV/AIDS or disabilities, and ageing populations.

“The Principles for Sustainable Insurance provide a global roadmap to develop and expand the innovative risk management and insurance solutions that we need to promote renewable energy, clean water, food security, sustainable cities and disaster-resilient communities. The United Nations looks forward to working with all sectors of society towards the global embrace of this important new initiative as we shape the future we want,” the UN chief stressed.

The Principles were unveiled by the UN and insurance leaders at a major global event attended by hundreds of CEOs and senior executives. The event was co-hosted by the International Insurance Society and the Brazilian Insurance Confederation (CNseg).

Achim Steiner, said: “Over the past six years, the UN Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative has been exploring the possibility of establishing sustainability principles for the global insurance industry that can catalyse and amplify transformational change. Principles that tailor to the needs and aspirations of the insurance industry and the clients and citizens it serves.

“Seven billion people, rising to over nine billion by 2050, are not going to stand still and wait for the future they want. We need to green our economies, build resilient communities, deliver wider ranging social outcomes, and better conserve our forests, freshwaters and other critical ecosystems.

“The Principles for Sustainable Insurance are a foundation upon which the insurance industry and society as a whole can build a stronger relationship—one that puts sustainability at the heart of risk management in pursuit of a more forward-looking and better managed world,” Steiner concluded.

The launch of the Principles marks the start of a United Nations-backed insurance industry initiative that would promote the adoption and implementation of the Principles globally.

Nikolaus von Bomhard, CEO of Munich Re, which currently chairs the UNEP FI group of insurers that led the multi-stakeholder development of the Principles, explained: “The insurance industry plays a vital role in developing our economy and society. By managing and carrying risks, our industry protects the welfare of society and fosters innovation. Our industry gives it clients the promise that we will always fulfil both our short-term and long-term obligations assumed under insurance contracts. Therefore, our industry has a duty to act in a responsible and forward-looking manner. The Principles for Sustainable Insurance will contribute significantly to the sustainability of the insurance industry and society as a whole.

“It is now time to turn the Principles into practice. I invite my peers in the global insurance industry to support this landmark initiative and bring the Principles to life through their commitment,” he added.

The Principles emerged out of a pioneering global, inclusive and consultative process, involving over 500 senior representatives from the insurance industry, governments, regulators, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations, industry associations, academia and the scientific community.

With the world’s leading insurers backing the Principles for Sustainable Insurance, it is expected that the Principles will be quickly and widely adopted by the global insurance industry.

The Principles for Sustainable Insurance build on the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), which were conceptualised and delivered by UNEP FI and the UN Global Compact for the investment industry, and launched in 2006 by the UN Secretary-General together with some of the world’s largest institutional investors.

To date, over 1000 investors from 50 countries, representing over USD 30 trillion in assets under management, have adopted the PRI and are building sustainable capital markets and a green economy by implementing the PRI across all asset classes and geographies.

Messages from CEOs of founding signatory companies and founding supporting institutions of the UNEP FI Principles for Sustainable Insurance

Founding signatory companies (country of domicile):

1.  Achmea (Netherlands)

Willem van Duin, Chairman of the Executive Board of Achmea, said: “Being a cooperative insurance company, Achmea sees it as her natural duty to sign the principles. The PSI will strengthen the base under our daily business and our efforts to provide citizens worldwide with the best possible insurance solutions. Achmea is pleased to see that the PSI put extra stress on raising awareness for social issues in our branch. We feel that we came a long way, since a group of farmers established our company over 200 years ago. However we also acknowledge that knowing your customers and working together with them is the key to a solid financial future; for ourselves as a company, but mainly for those who need insurance.”

2.  AEGON (Netherlands)

Alex Wynaendts, CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board of AEGON NV, said: “We’re proud to be one of the founding members of the Principles for Sustainable Insurance. The global insurance industry already plays a vital role in helping tackle social and environmental problems. These principles, once again, highlight our industry’s determination to help meet the challenges of global aging, climate change, population growth and increasing urbanization.”  

3.  Aviva (United Kingdom)

John McFarlane, Executive Deputy Chairman of Aviva plc, said: “As a founding signatory of UNEP FI in 1995, through to our founding membership of LEAD Global Compact in 2011, Aviva has demonstrated that we actively recognise our responsibility to help tackle the environmental, social and governance challenges facing our business and society today. Every industry should champion sustainability and especially ours which for hundreds of years has been protecting the things that matter most to people. We are proud to be a founding signatory of the Principles for Sustainable Insurance and would ask every insurer to sign up.”

4.  AXA (France)

Henri de Castries, Chairman and CEO of AXA, said: “As an insurer, our business is to protect people over the long term; we therefore have a responsibility to leverage our skills to help build a stronger and safer society. I am very proud the AXA Group is signing the Principles for Sustainable Insurance. I believe that by integrating, with the other signatories, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues into decision-making across the insurance value chain, we will contribute to a more sustainable insurance industry. This is another step for us in our engagement towards corporate responsibility, but also a call for action for the coming years. I am convinced that, with these Principles, we will better serve our clients and society as a whole.”

5.  Bradesco Seguros (Brazil)

Marco Antonio Rossi, President of Grupo Bradesco Seguros, said: “It is an honor for the Grupo Bradesco Seguros—as part of the Bradesco conglomerate—to join UNEP FI and support the launch of Principles for Sustainable Insurance—especially at this moment when Brazil is hosting a major event like Rio+20. We constantly strive to raise awareness of environmental, social and governance issues within the insurance industry, while working toward designing sustainable solutions capable of reducing risks.”

6.  Delta Lloyd (Netherlands)

Niek Hoek, CEO of Delta Lloyd, said: “The activities of Delta Lloyd have a direct bearing on our customers’ daily lives. We therefore aim to develop and offer products and services that testify to our involvement and integrity, striking the right balance between entrepreneurial spirit and social responsibility. We see commercial success and sustainability as inextricably linked. For us, sustainability boils down to contributing to sustainable value creation for all our relevant stakeholders. We therefore fully support the Principles for Sustainable Insurance and feel proud to be one of the founding partners in the Dutch market.”

7.  ING (Netherlands)

Jan Hommen, Chairman of the Executive Board of ING Group NV, said: “Over the past years ING has been working on integrating sustainability in our overall corporate strategy and business activities. We consider it our most important challenge to better demonstrate that we provide real value that benefits our customers and society. Being a member of UNEP FI and a partner for PSI is very meaningful to our organisation. We are determined to help create a more sustainable future.”

8.  Insurance Australia Group (Australia)

Michael Wilkins, CEO and Managing Director of Insurance Australia Group, said: “IAG is delighted to be a founding signatory of the Principles for Sustainable Insurance. The insurance industry plays an important role in the economy and it is critical that we take account of the changing and complex risks that we and our communities face. Through education, sharing insights, working with government, regulators and through community partnerships, we will continue to focus on the proactive management of risk. At IAG risk matters; it doesn’t just matter to our business, it matters to our economy, to our communities and it matters to our way of life. That’s why it is at the heart of why we exist and is core to our purpose.”

9.  Interamerican Hellenic Insurance Group (Greece)

George Kotsalos, CEO of the Interamerican Hellenic Insurance Group, said: “The promise of insurance towards a safely growing, sustainable local and global society becomes even more vital in our times. UNEP FI’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance do provide an excellent framework of forward looking, material, challenging but absolutely necessary actions the insurance industry should integrate in its daily quest, so to remain a reliable pillar of support for a much needed and robust, environmental, social and economic growth. Interamerican Hellenic Insurance Group will continue to strive towards meeting these challenges.”

10.  Itaú Seguros (Brazil)

Marcos Lisboa, CEO of Itaú Seguros, said: “Over the last few years, Itaú Seguros has been progressively incorporating ESG issues into its products, services, and clients relations. We believe that joining the PSI contributes to this process by strengthening the ESG discussion within the insurance market. In addition, we welcome the opportunity of exchanging experiences with other members of the PSI Global Team and the entire network of UNEP FI, which we perceive as a very relevant forum for developing new partnerships towards sustainable finance.”

11. La Banque Postale (France)

Danielle Wajsbrot, Head of Insurance and Member of the Executive Board of La Banque Postale, said: “In the field of insurance, as in every other, La Banque Postale remains faithful to its core values: Accessibility, simplicity, transparency, usefulness, sustainability and solidarity. Dedicated to turning those words into real action, we constantly seek to emphasise the social function of our business. Given its ‘restorative’ power, insurance is indeed essential to our clients’ protection, especially for the most vulnerable ones. Signing the PSI, which fully transcribe our vision for the Insurance industry and provide us with a challenging framework for collaborative work and collective progress, definitely gives our commitment new perspective and dynamics.”

12.  MAPFRE (Spain)

Antonio Huertas Mejías, Chairman and CEO of MAPFRE, said: “The UNEP FI Principles for Sustainable Insurance are the expression of some of the most outstanding qualities of enduring companies, along with the virtues proper to the insurance industry. On the one hand, these ‘Principles’ support the company’s ability to create around a sustainable market for their products and services together with the most loyal and productive collaboration with its stakeholders, while on the other hand they align with the best policy of risk management and adaptation to change. Therefore, MAPFRE, consistent with the values that characterize it as a company, decided to promote and support this initiative.”

13.  Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance (Japan)

Yasuyoshi Karasawa, President and CEO of Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, said: “Congratulations on the adoption of the Principles for Sustainable Insurance. I extend my appreciation and respect to those who worked so hard on creating these Principles. Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance is dedicated to helping develop a vibrant society. Our goal is to secure a sound future for the planet through safety and security as a signatory to these principles. Japan’s non-life insurance industry is dealing with ESG issues toward the formation of a sustainable society. In this, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance will take a central role as one of the leading non-life insurance companies in Japan.”

14.  Mongeral AEGON (Brazil)

Helder Molina, CEO of Mongeral AEGON, said: “Sustainability is being handled with determination inside Mongeral AEGON. Through this commitment, we have built a history of tradition, always basing our actions on our corporate values of transparency, excellence, investment in our employees, innovation and social responsibility. To become signatories of the Principles for Sustainable Insurance reaffirms that sustainability is incorporated to our strategy, and it could not be different in a company providing services for the financial security and the well-being of people in the future.”

15.  Munich Re (Germany)

Dr. Nikolaus von Bomhard, Chairman of the Board of Management of Munich Re, said: “Munich Re has adopted an active role in developing the PSI. Our success factors include not only efficient risk and capital management but also forward thinking and action. This is how we create lasting value. Putting quality before quantity enables us to achieve long-term profitable growth. We will use the Principles as a blueprint to further integrate environmental, social and governance factors into our core business. In doing so, we enhance our risk management. The Principles will complement the commitments we have already signed, first and foremost the UN Global Compact and the Principles for Responsible Investment.”

16.  RSA Insurance Group (United Kingdom)

Simon Lee, Group CEO of RSA Insurance Group, said: “RSA is pleased to become a founding signatory of the Principles for Sustainable Insurance. As a leading global insurer, we are committed to managing our business in a responsible and ethical manner. By doing so, we can identify and serve new markets for our products, reduce operating costs by driving environmental improvements, enhance our reputation and attract the best individuals to work for us. The Principles will act as an important framework to highlight the vital role insurance can play in enhancing the environment and society.”

17.  Sanlam (South Africa)

Dr. Johan van Zyl, CEO of Sanlam, said: “Sustainability is an overriding objective of Sanlam’s activities. We are a long-term business that is dependent on building and maintaining long-term relationships based on trust. We believe focusing on long-term competitiveness rather than short-term profit ensures that we do not borrow from the future. For this reason, our decisions are made to safeguard the sustainability of our business. Sanlam’s support of the UNEP FI Principles for Sustainable Insurance as founding signatory is a natural consequence of our business philosophy. We look forward to working with others to stem and revert the collective undermining of our long-term capacity to create value. As an industry, we could play a bigger role in driving sustainability more broadly. The global adoption of the PSI is a step in this direction, to our collective benefit.”

18.  Santam (South Africa)

Ian Kirk, CEO of Santam, said: “Santam’s brand position of ‘Insurance, good and proper’ entrenches the concept that our value proposition extends beyond premium rates. As a founding signatory of the UNEP FI Principles of Sustainable Insurance, our values are complimented. We recognize that insurance plays an active role in promoting pragmatic and collaborative systemic risk management in society and the economy. As industry leader we understand that systemic events can have a significant impact on our operations. The UNEP FI principles give us a good foundation to spread this message. We look forward to ground-breaking work and insights as we move forward on the sustainable insurance journey.”

19.  SCOR (France)

Denis Kessler, Chairman and CEO of SCOR SE, said: “The present time is marked by a rapidly changing risk landscape. In a more complex and interconnected world, the insurance industry promotes risk culture and provides Society with the risk sharing mechanisms essential to growth and resilience. To achieve this, a sound dialogue must be maintained between the various key stakeholders. The Principles for Sustainable Insurance is an opportunity to expand this dialogue and to further understand and manage the risks associated with environmental, social and governance trends, through knowledge accumulation and a forward-looking mindset.”

20.  Sompo Japan Insurance (Japan)

Kengo Sakurada, President and CEO of Sompo Japan Insurance Inc., said: “I would like to celebrate the successful launch of the Principles for Sustainable Insurance in Rio+20. Sompo Japan integrates broad ESG considerations into our core business operations, including tackling environmental challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss, respect for human dignity and diversity, and proactive community involvement. Drawing on core strengths in the insurance business cultivated over our 120-year history, we will continue our challenge to create new value and contribute toward realization of an inclusive, resilient and sustainable society.”

21.  Sovereign (New Zealand)

Charles Anderson, CEO of Sovereign, said: “Sovereign routinely protects people’s lives with policies that will remain in-force for 50+ years and a long term view is critical if we are to deliver on the promise we make to our policyholders. By adopting the Principles of Sustainable Insurance, we aim to embed sustainability throughout our business—from core operations to engagement with civil society.  We believe that the Principles for Sustainable Insurance establishes a framework for establishing a global insurance industry that will be stronger, healthier, better adapted to the needs of society and the environment, and which will make a more positive difference to people’s lives.”

22.  Storebrand (Norway)

Odd Arild Grefstad, CEO of Storebrand ASA, said: “Storebrand will implement the PSI in all core activities. Developing innovative sustainable pension and insurance solutions is a central task now and in the future.  The ambition is to be the leading sustainable insurance company in the Nordic region, and hopefully it can inspire other insurance companies in the region.”

23.  SulAmérica (Brazil)

Thomaz Cabral de Menezes, CEO of SulAmérica, said: “By becoming one of PSI founding signatory companies, SulAmérica reinforces its commitment to sustainable development. This important initiative will help the insurance market to become an influencer for change within its clients, employees and business partners to build an economically viable, socially fair and environmentally correct society for the future.”

24.  Swiss Re (Switzerland)

Michel Liès, Group CEO of Swiss Re Ltd., said: “The Principles for Sustainable Insurance create a global framework to manage environmental, social and governance challenges. I am proud that the insurance industry has now formally agreed to take the necessary steps towards this important common goal of making societies more resilient, innovative and inclusive in the interest of all.”

25.  The Co-operators Group (Canada)

Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO of The Co-operators Group Ltd., said: “The insurance industry’s role in overcoming global economic, social and environmental challenges will be crucial to our ability to shape the future we want for coming generations. To be successful, insurers must embed sustainability into all aspects of risk management and, working in collaboration with all stakeholders, transform the Principles into practice. They are a foundation upon which we can build our capacity to support and advance sustainable development around the world. This is our generation’s opportunity. Let us make the most of it.”

26.  Tokio Marine and Nichido Fire Insurance (Japan)

Shuzo Sumi, CEO of Tokio Marine and Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd., said: “There are many social issues, such as natural disaster risks, aging populations and poverty, which also need to be worked on. It is evident that consumers and investors are increasingly paying attention to ‘E, S, and G’ elements. It will be very important for our insurance business to be sensitive to these changes and to align our business model to better respond to emerging ‘ESG’ issues. We will participate in the UNEP FI PSI initiative to find solutions for the relevant social issues we face, as we work toward the realization of a sustainable society.”

27.  Zwitserleven (Netherlands)

Maarten Edixhoven, CEO of Zwitserleven, said: “En route to a responsible Zwitserleven with a feel for people and the environment. For now and later. Zwitserleven thinks ahead and therefore signs these Principles with conviction.”

Founding supporting institutions (country of domicile):

1.  Brazilian Insurance Confederation (Brazil)

Jorge Hilário Gouvêa Vieira, President of the Brazilian Insurance Confederation (CNseg), said: “CNseg is proud to be a PSI supporting institution. We recognize the leading role of Brazil in the world’s sustainability affairs, especially in the environmental and social dimensions, and we are committed to use our direct access to the Brazilian insurance market to highlight the importance of adopting sustainability as a permanent posture in business, and to stimulate the observance of the PSI to improve the quality of life in our society.”

2.  Insurance Association of the Caribbean (Barbados)

Douglas Camacho, President of the Insurance Association of the Caribbean, said: “For the small island developing states of the Caribbean, a region known for its vulnerability and constant threat from natural disasters, the launch of the PSI bears great importance to its citizens and to the Caribbean insurance industry. Our association is pleased to be a part of this initiative and were proud to be the champions to help introduce this initiative to our members and colleagues. The IAC is committed to developing, incorporating and promoting sustainable programmes to help our region prepare for and cope with the impact of climate change and looks forward to playing an active part in making the initiative a success.”

3.  Insurance Council of Australia (Australia)

Robert Whelan, Executive Director and CEO of the Insurance Council of Australia, said: “After a year in which the world has experienced an unprecedented number of natural disasters and where ever increasing numbers of communities are exposed to these unpredictable and devastating events the importance of a sustainable insurance industry has never been more relevant. So it is for these reasons that the Insurance Council of Australia is in full support of the Principles for Sustainable Insurance as the foundation towards a more engaged and socially relevant insurance industry.”  

4.  Insurance Council of New Zealand (New Zealand)

Chris Ryan, Chief Executive of the Insurance Council of New Zealand, said: “Sustainable insurance is common sense once you consider it. The insurance industry is in the front line of calculating risk and accepting responsibility for it on a commercial basis. Sustainable insurance means sustainable communities that thrive and prosper. We can globally enhance lives beyond insured people with this UN initiative. It is commercial common sense.”

5.  International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (United Kingdom)

Shaun Tarbuck, Chief Executive of the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation, said: “The members of the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation are hallmarked by values that reflect sustainability objectives: protection of individuals, support of communities in which they live, and development of an environment in which they can thrive. Sustainability is truly in the DNA of cooperative/mutual insurers, with many already demonstrating leadership in addressing the challenges associated with emerging climate and socio-economic change. Becoming a founding supporting institution of the Principles for Sustainable Insurance is a crucial sign of ICMIF’s commitment to encouraging our members to fully embrace the Principles and help move our industry towards a more sustainable future.”

6.  International Insurance Society (United States)

Michael J. Morrissey, President and CEO of the International Insurance Society, said: “As the leading forum for cross border exchange of ideas and strategies in the global insurance industry, with our members in over 90 countries sharing the goal of sustainable development, the IIS is proud to work with the UNEP Finance Initiative as a founding supporting institution of the Principles of Sustainable Insurance.  With member insurers large and small, from developed and emerging markets, the IIS looks forward to actively working to advance the global initiative of promoting sustainable insurance.”

7.  South African Insurance Association (South Africa)

Barry Scott, CEO of the South African Insurance Association, said: “The Principles for Sustainable Insurance make good business sense for our members and our Association. The application of the Principles within the South African Insurance Association (SAIA) has added value across all our efforts from planning to implementation as well as the manner in which we engage with our value chain.  Essentially the Principles for Sustainable Insurance have become a way of ‘doing’ at SAIA.”

 

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