Swiss Re applies principles for sustainable insurance

Swiss Re expands its sustainability framework by reporting against the principles for sustainable insurance for the first time

June 19, 2013 1:42 IST | India Infoline News Service
In the 2012 Corporate Responsibility Report, Swiss Re enhances its accountability by reporting against the Principles for Sustainable Insurance for the first time. Together with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other partners, Swiss Re played an active role in developing the principles, which are part of an initiative to advance sustainable business practices across the re/insurance industry, Swiss Re said today.

Continuing its efforts to bring insurance protection to vulnerable communities, Swiss Re made a significant commitment to improve food security in Sub-Saharan Africa with weather and yield index insurance products. Through the company's Greenhouse Neutral Programme, Swiss Re cut CO2 emissions per employee by 55.6% between 2003 and 2012.

Swiss Re's Group CEO Michel Liès: "This is the first time we have reported against the Principles for Sustainable Insurance, which we helped develop in cooperation with the UNEP Finance Initiative. We will also talk more about some of the challenges inherent in implementing sustainability in our business. This is because deriving concrete measures from general sustainability principles is not always straightforward."

One example for effectively translating Swiss Re's commitment to corporate responsibility into tangible actions is the continuous application of the group-wide Sustainability Risk Framework, which defines non-commercial sustainability criteria for business transactions. Out of the 170 transactions which were screened in 2012, 23 transactions were stopped. In 18 cases, certain conditions had to be met first before the transaction could go ahead.

Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI)

The four principles were developed by the Finance Initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in cooperation with leading re/insurers. Launched in 2012, they provide a global framework for the insurance industry to address both risks and opportunities arising from environmental, social and governance issues. The principles give guidance on how activities along the whole insurance value chain can be carried out in a responsible and forward-looking way. Swiss Re actively supports the adoption of sustainable business practices across the re/insurance industry and a Swiss Re representative currently serves as the co-chair of the UN PSI Board.

Tackling climate change remains a priority
Tackling climate change has been a key objective for Swiss Re over the past 20 years, including the company's own CO2 emissions. The independently assured emissions data show that CO2emissions per employee have decreased by 55.6% since 2003. This was achieved by switching to renewable energy at most of the Group's larger locations, making its facilities more energy efficient and minimising business travel whenever possible. The remaining CO2 emissions are offset by buying Voluntary Emissions Reduction certificates, making Swiss Re carbon neutral since 2003.

The 2012 Corporate Responsibility Report provides a complete update across all areas which Swiss Re considers relevant to achieving sustainable progress. It was prepared in line with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework, in addition to the Principles for Sustainable Insurance. The report also details how the company implements the ten principles of the UN Global Compact, to which it has been a signatory since 2008.

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