Mutuals and cooperatives sign up for global ‘sustainable insurance’ initiative
A major global initiative to encourage sustainable insurance practices, overseen by the UN’s Environment Programme UNEP, received its official launch in, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, yesterday with the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) confirmed as a founding supporting institution.
ICMIF is represented on the team which is overseeing the development of The Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) and one of the Federation’s members, The Co-operators (Canada), has committed to be a founding signatory.
The launch of the principles is being supported by the publication of leading case studies from the insurance industry, which includes four from ICMIF members.
The UNEP Principles for Sustainable Insurance have been in development for more than two years and follow extensive discussions by UNEP with insurance businesses and other stakeholders throughout the world. The aim is to encourage the insurance industry to foster practices which contribute to environmental, social and economic sustainability, as well as reducing risk, developing innovation and improving business performance. Although a voluntary framework, PSI is intended to put down a marker for all insurers to aspire to.
Faye Lageu, Vice President of Shared Intelligence at ICMIF, was at the Rio launch and is a member of the Principles of Sustainable Insurance team, as well as representing ICMIF and its members on the Case Studies Committee.
She says: “ICMIF and its members already have a very strong reputation for our work around sustainability, and becoming a founding supporting institution is a clear sign of our commitment to encouraging more of our members to truly embrace the Principles. Our two sustainability reports, produced in 2009 and 2011, offer practical information and guidance for cooperative and mutual insurers putting sustainability at the heart of their activities. This is an area where our principles and values directly link to business practices, and put cooperatives and mutuals in the vanguard of developments.”
There are four core Principles which companies are invited to endorse. The first is that “we will embed in our decision-making environmental, social and governance issues relevant to our insurance business”. UNEP offers practical suggestions on possible actions, in areas such as product development, claims management and investment management.
The second Principle is that “we will work together with our clients and business partners to raise awareness on environmental, social and governance issues, manage risk and develop solutions”. UNEP invites reinsurers and intermediaries as well as insurers to participate in work around sustainability.
Thirdly, “we will work together with government, regulators and other key stakeholders to promote collective action in managing environmental, social and governance issues”. Once again, UNEP offers a set of possible steps which insurance companies may wish to take to turn this aspiration into reality. And finally, “we will demonstrate accountability and transparency in regularly disclosing publicly our progress in implementing the Principles”.
UNEP says that the Principles for Sustainable Insurance complement the UN’s Global Compact scheme, the broader initiative under which major companies undertake to work in accordance with universally-accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour and environmental standards and anti-corruption. The new Principles also complement the UN’s existing Principles for Responsible Investment which ICMIF members The Co-operative Banking Group (UK), Folksam (Sweden), MAIF (France) and Tapiola (Finland) have signed up to.
A set of case studies has been published to coincide with the PSI launch this month, and includes Folksam’s work in relation to paint testing for environmental impact, HIV education at Co-op Seguros (Dominican Republic), providing services to the deaf community at MACIF (France) and encouraging safer driving at The Co-operative Banking Group.
At the same time, ICMIF is announcing the launch of a new ICMIF Leaders’ Forum on sustainability to build on earlier work which the organisation and its members have been undertaking. The Leaders’ Forum is open to other mutual and cooperative insurers.