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The importance of prevention for the future of mutual and cooperative insurance

This webinar discusses the importance of prevention for our members in the mutual and cooperative insurance industry and also globally. This is the first in a series of special webinars to celebrate ICMIF’s centenary this year and more webinars will be hosted during 2022 on a wide range of topics.

Later this year, we will launch the ICMIF and United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) Prevention Benchmark. This benchmark will be the world’s first tool for insurers, developed especially for ICMIF members to be able to measure their organisation against the global standards for prevention activities. The webinar presents the ICMIF and UNDRR Prevention Benchmark working group’s plans and activities which will drive the creation of the benchmark tool.


  • Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of UNDRR
  • Hilde Vernaillen, Chair, ICMIF and Chair of the Management Committee, P&V Group (Belgium)
  • Rob Wesseling, President and CEO, Co-operators (Canada)
  • Ylva Wessén, President and CEO, Folksam (Sweden)
  • Shaun Tarbuck, Chief Executive, ICMIF, moderator

Shaun Tarbuck:

Welcome everybody to the first in the series of high level webinars in the run up to the ICMIF Conference in Rome in October. We’re going to be doing one of these every month, just to get people excited about what is going to be happening in Rome later this year. This time we’re talking about “The importance of prevention for the future of the mutual and cooperative insurance”, as well as the wider insurance sector.

We signed a partnership with the United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) unit back in November, 2019. That partnership has grown from strength to strength over the last two years. We issued a joint report in April in 2021, which is now downloadable, and we’ve created seven mechanisms by which we should be able to assess how well we are doing against DRR and resilience. We’ve had a high level political group, which was set up in January, 2021 to direct the work, and Mami is the contact from the UNDRR side.

And we have five CEOs from the ICMIF board of which four of them will be online here this afternoon. So without further ado, I’m just going to introduce the panel. So we have Mami Mizutori, who many of you met at the conference in Auckland in 2019. And she’s going to kick us off shortly with the overview of where the UNDRR is and where resilience is globally. We have the ICMIF chair, Hilde Vernaillen from P&V in Belgium. We have Rob Wesseling, from The Co-operators in Canada, who is also the vice chair of ICMIF.

We have Ylva Wessen, also vice chair of ICMIF for Europe, who is the president and CEO of Folksam. And we hopefully will also have Robert Otto, who is a member of the executive board of Achmea. He’s just struggling to get in a little bit, so he hopefully will join us later. So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Mami, to introduce us, introduce the topic. Thank you.

Mami Mizutori:

Well, thank you very much Shaun. Dear leaders and members of the community I’d like to join Shaun in welcoming you today to this exciting event on the importance of prevention for the future of the mutual and cooperative insurance industry, and many congratulations for celebrating your centenary this year, how exciting. As Shaun mentioned, our partnership started in 2019 in Auckland and it has been growing from strength to strength.

And now heading towards the next ICMIF conference in Rome later this year, I’m delighted to be with you here today, so that we can take the next step in our partnership, which is to develop a prevention benchmark for the mutual and cooperative insurance sector. This will be done within the next six months and it’s a really important and exciting development of our partnership. And as we embark on this development of the benchmark, I would like to thank my fellow panelists today.

Hilde, YlVA, Robert for your commitment, enthusiasm about prevention, because it’s a tough one without commitment and enthusiasm you can’t take it forward. I also like to thank the ICMIF secretariat under Shaun’s great leadership for your unwavering support for driving the topic of prevention forward. And in this regard, I would like to sincerely thank the entire ICMIF membership for your engagement, for your interest reflected in the many case studies published on the Prevention Hub, as well as for your attendance to our joint events and webinars.

I’d like to update you a bit on what’s happening globally around prevention. So last year 2021, disaster risk reduction and prevention featured in all global policy processes and I am not exaggerating here. Processes related to SDGs, food security, humanitarian relief and of course, climate change. At COP26, specifically brought the disaster risk reduction high on both the political and business agenda.

Strong commitment were made by leaders, both of the political arena and the business arena to accelerate climate change adaptation and risk reduction across the globe. And in four regions, the regional platforms conferences for disaster risk reduction were also held last year involving all stakeholders, including of course the private sector and the insurance industry. Now this year is even more, at least equally important for the agenda.

UNDRR, we will be convening the global platform for disaster risk reduction, which will be hosted by the government of Indonesia from the 23rd to the 28th of May in Bali and the overall title from risk to resilience, a sustainable future for all in a COVID transformed world, says a lot and all. Financing, investment and risk knowledge, climate action and DRR, these are all key themes for your industry and they will be featured at the discussions at the global platform.

Another important development, the midterm review of the Sendai Framework has kick started. The framework was adopted in 2015 and has to be implemented by 2030. That’s why we are now at the midpoint where we need to review where we are, what are achievements to date, what are the challenges and how can we renew our commitment for prevention towards 2030.

While the voluntary national review processes of member states governments are leading this process, I would like to emphasize that the experience, views and lessons learned from all other stakeholder groups in particular from the private sector is critical in order to understand where we stand in implementing the Sendai Framework, because Sendai Framework says risk is everybody’s business and we should approach it as a whole of society.

Now, I would like to invite you all to engage in both the global platform and this midterm review process, please share your community focused hands on experience in leadership. Within the wider sustainable development agenda, again this year DRR will be a priority at, for example, the commission for the status of women deliberations, the financing for development summit, the high level political forum, and of course, COP27 in Egypt.

While UNDRR will continue to work with ICMIF to bring real life examples and solutions to these policy arenas for stronger advocacy and enhanced political commitment, I’d like to say that it’s time for all of us to together have more action towards resilient and sustainable world. We need more action on one, how to assess, understand and reduce systemic risk. Two, how to establish public private collaborations. Three, how to make investment risk informed.

And fourth and most essentially, how to increase financing for risk reduction. These are all areas where ICMIF members can take a leadership role in showcasing how prevention can be done in practice. And we need to move fast because time is running short. Greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. Financial flows continue to pour into risky assets and inequality continues to cause political, societal and economic turmoil. Business as usual is not we can afford in order to achieve the Sendai Framework and the 2030 goals.

I welcome the steps that we have already taken collectively, the steps that your industry has taken and allow me to encourage you to step up further to accelerate innovative action, to challenge, establish processes and perceptions, and to create avenues for change. I’d like to thank you very much for your attention. And I look forward to hearing your views in the discussion and how we can answer the important questions that will be posed to all of us. Thank you.

Shaun Tarbuck:

Thank you Mami, that was a great call to action and certainly took a lot out of that, but business of as usual is not an option anymore. Does any of the panelists want to make a comment on what Mami just said?

Rob Wesseling:

Well, Mami thank you for those introductory comments. They’re inspiring quite frankly, and it’s becoming so clear that if we stay on the path that we’re on, we will end up having a disorderly transition to a net zero economy and a net zero world. And so we have the opportunity to have a more orderly transition, which will be more equitable, it will be less damaging along the way. But I couldn’t agree with you more that if we stay on the path that we’re on, we will have a disorderly transition and that will be worse for everyone on the planet. So Shaun, thanks for that opportunity.

Hilde Vernaillen:

If I may Shaun, thank you, Mami. And indeed we fully agree that business as usual is not an option at all. I would only like to make a call for all small initiatives as well, because when we say business as usual is not an option, it can create a perception that we need to do huge things. I really believe that all actors in industry can do small things and if you add all the small things then we will change the world as well.

Shaun Tarbuck:

Very valid comment. I think we all need to do our own little bit, don’t we? In order to make the big picture bigger. Ylva, any comments from you?

Ylva Wessen:

Yeah. In spite of what Hilde just said that I think that we as the collective of ICMIF and as individual members, we do have the power and we do have the resources to change and we shouldn’t underestimate the impact we can have on the world.

Shaun Tarbuck:

That is very true. Thank you all for your initial comments. I know Robert is trying to get in, so he should be with us in a minute or two. So I’ll just move to a quick update as to where we are in the partnership with UNDRR. We’re very much on track. We did issue in April last year, and you can see there if you want to download the report on the joint report with ourselves and the UNDRR.

In there, there were 20 case studies, which I do believe well, they definitely helped towards framing the seven mechanisms, which we’re all working towards. And those seven mechanisms just in quick summary are around pricing on how do we utilize pricing prerequisites and exempts, it’s around investment and how do we make that work better.

It’s around awareness and advice. It’s around how do we better use modeling and data. It’s around social capital and lastly it’s around the collaboration and how we work together. So there in a nutshell, and we’ll be delving into some of those shortly. So we started with 20 case studies in April, we’re now up to 56 and we’ve now developed a Prevention Hub so that anyone can access that. It’s free to access, not just for ICMIF members, it’s external as well.

So these are 56 case studies that are housed on the ICMIF website. And you can see that in the screen there, if you to go and have a look, see who’s doing what and where. We’re always welcome, we want to keep adding to that because the richness is in all of the small and big things that we’re all individually doing, and this should showcase what we’re actually doing.

And that will also help us then move into the benchmarking, which we’ve literally just kicked off on the 1st of February. We have 12 members who’ve offered to join initially. And I think there’s three or four more hoping to join and that’s probably about the right level. And we are going to test those seven mechanisms. We’re also going to try and develop a range of what looks good and what looks excellent and what’s just at the start.

This isn’t trying to say that anything’s wrong, it’s just making a start for many organizations is appropriate, but then there should be a path in which on they can travel to sort of reach the level of excellence. And I think what we do very well as ICMIF is we’re really good at peer to peer review and benchmarks against each other and helping each other. And I think this benchmark, we’re aim to do that. We do aim to develop the measurements that will then enable ICMIF members to benchmark their progress in all of the seven mechanism.

It’s going to be a voluntary code of course, but it’s going to encourage that best practice in the peer to peer learning. And we hope members will then start to use this in 2023 to report back on what happened in 2022 and then we’ll continue to build that. So at the moment we have 56 case studies, from around about 40 members. So that would mean 40 members are already on track, but I know there’s lots of others out there that haven’t given us case studies. So I would say maybe we’re already up to half members are doing this sort of thing.

It’ll be great to be able to benchmark and learn from each other. And then the next part of the output was going to be around the pilots. And this is how we can do maybe some of the bigger things and try and change the ecosystems in which we’re currently working, particularly around the investment side, but also in how we help ocean resilience, for instance, how we help with the climate change debate through projects that we’re utilizing in different parts of the world, as well as our own country.

There’s a couple of pilots, so I’m sure we’re going to be talking about later with some of the panelists here. And then lastly, just to say out of a webinar, when we launched the Prevention Hub in November, and also out of seminar that we held jointly with UNDRR, a subgroup was formed including Sean Kidney, who is the head of the Climate Bonds Initiative, the UNDRR team, the Swiss Re team that’s helping us develop the SDG mutual calculator and some of the members from ICMIF.

And we’re just trying to see if we can reframe the green bond movement so that it really does embed resilience and the SDGs into that. So that’s quite an exciting group that anything goes, it’s a real think tank. We’ve had our first meeting last month and the aim is to keep progressing that to see if we can work with the green bonds team and trying to change the way things have been done in the past. And I think that fits nicely with some of the pilots that we have ongoing as well.

That’s a quick update as to where we’re at. Our focus is both on the global platform for the UNDRR team in Indonesia in May, and giving an update then, and also on launching the benchmark and other things at ICMIF conference in Rome. So we’ve got two trigger points, which we will be working towards to make sure that we continue to move away from BAU into the real action side of things.

And at the same time, keeping in mind what all of you just said on the last point is to making sure this is as equitable as well, and we utilize our assets and our liabilities and our strengths with an insurance company in the best possible way. So that’s a brief update. Would anyone like to sort of add anything here in from the panel there?

Rob Wesseling:

Shaun, just very quickly. It really is incredible what’s been accomplished in such short period of time and I really commend you and the secretariat and also the UNDRR. This thing got bootstrapped up just really from the last conference, didn’t it?

Shaun Tarbuck:

Yes. Definitely. Yeah. And we sort of pulled a group together didn’t we Mami? And about 20 people and it started there. Go on Mami.

Mami Mizutori:

And the steps we’re taking are really, very well structured. Now with the benchmarks we can measure what we’re doing. And as you said Shaun, as you said, Hilde, every step is important, nothing is wasted. But to be able to measure, I think is a very important thing. And that is something that this benchmark will allow us to do. Global platform as I mentioned, it’s really an exciting place to be.

I don’t know how many of you have been there before, but the it’s not like COP that much because there’s no negotiation going around governments come, but all stakeholders equal footing on the same panel, in the same panels, in the same sessions are really presenting their view, their role. So please, we’d like to see a lot of you there. Thank you.

Shaun Tarbuck:

Thank you very much Rob, that’s very kind, but honestly we couldn’t do it without the members and the technical experts that you give to us to help. It really is. It’s the only way we can do this together. So excellent. Right. Just moving towards the next question. So I’m going to start with, just to give you a bit of a heads up, we’ll start with you Rob, how can purpose led organizations best integrate prevention into their strategy?

Rob Wesseling:

Yeah. Thanks for that Shaun. I’m going to, if you’ll indulge me, do a bit of a thought experiment here. So if you’ll bear with me. Just imagine for a moment that we do what Mami suggested we should not do, which is maintain business as usual. So let’s walk down that path for a moment. So let’s assume that we continue to focus on protection, to focus on indemnity, to focus on helping our members and communities fix things after disasters happen.

In that circumstance clearly the protection gap continues to grow all around the world, not just in developing countries, but in developed countries as well. Our traditional products they become less relevant because the cost of the risk is too great. And purchasing an indemnity product against a risk that you can’t afford, well that’s not really very helpful for anyone. And at some point in the not so distant future, I think the insurance industry itself and most certainly mutual and cooperative insurers, we start to ask ourselves, why do we exist?

So it’s a crisis from that perspective certainly. That’s not a future that I would like to see and I suspect it’s not a future that many would like to see. So let’s imagine a different future now, one where we focus on prevention, we focus on resilience as an industry, as a whole, but within the cooperative and mutual sector specifically, this is really about what business we’re in at that point.

We would be in the resilience business in this future as opposed to the protection or indemnity business. And everything that we would do in our organizations would be solving for resilience, would be solving for the protection gap, not necessarily by offering more insurance products, but by offering products and services that reduce risk. Imagine that it encompasses every part of our business, the liability side with our products and services, the asset side with the way that we invest our assets.

And in that future, we continue to be able to fulfill our common cooperative and mutual purpose and we can play a role in that orderly transition that we all desire to a net zero future. And so Shaun, your question specifically was how could we integrate within our strategy? And the view that I have is that it’s actually a bigger question than that. How do we make the business that we’re in prevention and resilience? And if that is the business that we’re in, then our strategies will most certainly follow that. Thanks.

Shaun Tarbuck:

That really is big pictures stuff. So the challenge there is how can we transition to a resilient and protection business. Great. Thank you very much. So that’s got to be the strategy. Ylva, how would you like to answer that one?

Ylva Wessen:

I would start with Folksam’s vision. And our vision is for our customers to feel safe in a sustainable world and that is within our DNA. And the customer’s best interest should always be at the center, especially for us who are customer owned, a mutual company. And as Rob said, for our customers, it’s of course the best damage it should never occurs. And it’s also the best for us, of course, and the use of the earth resources.

And at Folksam, our preventive work goes hand in hand with our mission and purpose. And we have actually been working with this since the ’70s, and it started with our road safety research. And as a result, we are today, one of the foremost Swedish experts in the field, and we are contacted by journalists and politicians and other influences on issues or facts to get the information and knowledge. And how we do that in practice to answer customers well, quite hands on and practically, if we know that there are extreme weather coming we warn customers by targeted text messages.

And our impression is that the customers are quite thankful for this because they don’t want to be damaged as well. So it’s the win-win situation. We do inspection of houses when we have new customers. We go home to their house to do some inspection and to identify where there may be a risk of damage. And in connection with this, with information is also providing on how to avoid that injury. That’s just two simple examples of what we do.

And as you also know, we are quite a large investor and we work with injury prevention in the longer term by investing in building productive dikes and walls. And we are investing in other types of climate measures in municipalities and regions. And we also try to. And we work quite hard on influence the companies that we own, that we have invested in so that those companies should move their business models in more sustainable path.

As a concrete example of that, we just increased our investment in a global steel company in Sweden called SSAB to take more active role in supporting their transition to fossil free steel production. And that’s in the long run, we see a benefit our business model as well. Not only providing good returns to our savings customers, but also for our general and house insurers, policy holders, it benefits them as well. So there are different types of things that you actually can do, which are quite hands on as an insurance company.

Shaun Tarbuck:

Thanks Ylva. It’s obviously, if you’ve got a vision to keep your customers safe in a sustainable world, you’ve kind of set it right from the beginning. But one of my staff just sent me just this morning, actually minutes from the ICMIF meeting in 1970, just to support what you’ve just said is worth a quick note. So [ Klaus Schubach 00:27:21] who was one of your predecessors, wrote a paper on the pollution of the environment, and it says here, he asked to prepare a proposal, sorry. You undertake in creating fronts against environmental destruction, and that was in 1970. So I didn’t prep that, just because we’re looking back at history at the moment and trying to find things, she sent me this, this morning. So yeah. So there you go. Well, spot on in the 1970.

Ylva Wessen:

Walk the talk.

Shaun Tarbuck:

Absolutely love it. Hilde, any comments?

Hilde Vernaillen:

Well, yes. I would say that as purpose led organizations should not only have prevention and risk reductions in the core of their strategy, but they should also show the way to others. And I could make that statement as an ICMIF chair, of course, but I do also make that statement as P&V Insurance in Belgium. As Rob and Ylva, we do have prevention in the core of our strategy.

Strategy, well division of P&V is still offering protection to as many people we can, but offering protection is not only selling insurance policies, offering protection is it’s about inclusivity. We don’t want to leave anyone behind and that it’s a big constraint because it’s not easy in insurance to make sure you don’t leave anyone behind. But in the top of strategy, it’s inclusivity, prevention and sustainability development.

And then we try to translate that in everything we do, which is well, as I said, not always big, spectacular things, but make sure that we offer prevention tips together with an insurance policy, make sure that we price risk correctly and we explain to people how they can reduce risk and can reduce price of insurance and so on and so on. And it’s adding all those things together that you can make a difference.

And well, in Belgium now we see a bigger movement of insurance companies going in that way. And it’s about communication. It’s warning people about risks, but it’s more than communication. It’s educating people how they can handle risk and how they could prevent risk as well. So yes, we should show the way.

Shaun Tarbuck:

I like it Hilde. Yes, we should show the way and I believe we are showing the way hopefully. Mami, any comments on those three there?

Mami Mizutori:

As always listening to your CEOs really encourages me. And I think the answer is really in the question, how can purpose led organizations integrate prevention? And that’s what all of you said. Your purpose, the purpose of your industry is for cooperation, for mutual support, for safety, sustainability, long term benefits. So it’s already written in new business that it has to be about prevention and about resilience, not only protection.

And if you put that into the current rather frightful context that we’re living through, right? The current landscape, risk landscape, which is unfortunately getting worse and worse with all the systemic risk, all the systemic connected impact, where we are asked to have a systemic solution, but the world is not quite ready, but there you have your industry, which has been doing this for decades. And so that’s exactly why we are partnering with ICMIF, because you have it in your DNA and it’s not something that we need to convince you about. So again, really encouraged as always. Thank you.

Shaun Tarbuck:

Thank you Mami. Yes, I think it is in our DNA and that’s the point, isn’t it? But I also find it very inspirational listening to all of you as well, because that inspires to go that extra mile. Moving to the next question, and start with you again, Rob, if that’s okay. How can we change consumer behaviors towards prevention using our products and services as well as pricing and underwriting criteria?

Rob Wesseling:

Thanks Shaun. And I appreciate the way that question is articulated. Historically certainly before the seven mechanisms were developed, it was fairly normal for people in this industry like myself to talk about underwriting and pricing as being the signals that will help others make sound decisions related to risk and increasing risk. I think it’s far more important now that we think about our products and our services, as well as pricing and underwriting, all four are critically important.

Then you’ve heard some good examples from Hilde and Ylva already, with respect to services like e-blasts that warn members and clients that something dangerous is coming and letting them know what they can do in the very near term to protect themselves and to protect the things that are important to them. Something that we’ve been doing recently at The Co-operators as well. It’s a wonderful way to engage clients and members.

I suspect in the future we’ll have more significant opportunities even than we have now to offer services that will be preventative. Whether it’s working with communities to reduce risk in the urban forest interface, there are some examples of that in Canada, that The Co-operators is working with. Whether it’s working with individuals, sharing with them, helping them understand the specific risks that they’re exposed to, and then helping them to protect their homes, their businesses, the critical infrastructure, that is important by providing either products or services that will allow them to do that.

That may not be traditional insurance products. They may be consulting, they may be selling a set of best practices that will help harden those buildings, that infrastructure in a way that helps us prepare for the increased risk that is coming. I’m feeling very optimistic for The Co-operative mutual sector’s ability to be able to operate in these spaces effectively for exactly the reasons that Ylva and Hilde identified.

We’ve been at this work for a very long time because it is built into the DNA, to the purpose of our organizations. So I’m very hopeful that we’ll be able to take a lead, demonstrate to others how this can be very, very powerful in our society.

Shaun Tarbuck:

Thanks Rob. That’s also very inspiring. And I move on to Ylva, same sort of question to you. I know you’ve sort of made a couple of examples already, but I know there’s lots more.

Ylva Wessen:

This is a huge challenge for all insurance companies in the future or in the future there, it’s already here. And the combination are more frequent and more extreme disasters can create situations where insurance policies become just too expensive for most customers or make it impractical for companies to provide coverage. And we do not want to end up in such situation. I mean, everyone should have access to insurance and we wish to maintain the current levels of insurance premiums.

So it’s even more important to work preventively with customers in the future. And as Rob said, to meet that need we will probably need to develop completely new products and services that do not exist today. And what we do today is that we, as Hilde mentioned, an example as well, we offer our customers lower prices if they themselves help to prevent damage in certain ways, or buy certain products that we believe are safer or more sustainable, but in the future, there will be new products and services, I’m sure of that.

Shaun Tarbuck:

Thank you, Ylva. Yeah. I think you have a very good point there. It struck me when you said about everyone should have access to insurance, that’s where we all started back in our creation. And are we getting to a point now where that’s as relevant now as it was at the beginning of the 20th century. Anyway, something to think about. Hilde, you got any comment? From last time you bring a lot.

Hilde Vernaillen:

Not a lot to add because I fully agree with what Rob and Ylva said, and actually we are trying to do this kind same things, and it’s really not easy. If you want to be inclusive, it’s really not easy. And I think still a long way to go to make sure we understand what’s needed for people to it’s, well, I think pricing is a good way, but it’s not the only way, to me it’s really about understanding. And understanding the importance of reducing risks on the one side and be well protected on the other side, but it’s really not an easy way, but.

Shaun Tarbuck:

But we have to do it is what you’re saying.

Hilde Vernaillen:

Yes. That’s the only way. So yes.

Shaun Tarbuck:

I think we have to change the consumer’s behavior and that’s ultimately what it is and that will help us drive what we want to drive in the safest sustainable world. But Mami, have you got any concluding thoughts on that question?

Mami Mizutori:

Yes. So this is a very important question because actually the core of the Sendai Framework is how can we make a paradigm shift and stop trying to manage disasters after they wreck us and instead manage disaster risk and prevent them from becoming disasters and this needs behavioral change. But we all know just thinking about ourselves, to change our behavior is very difficult, whether you’re a consumer or you’re a provider of service, or you’re just a community member it’s very difficult, but that’s where we need to do it and that’s why like all of you were saying it’s not easy, it’s a challenge.

Now, I do believe that the insurance sector and especially your sector has been doing it for quite a long time, haven’t you? Through enhancing the understanding of risk. A simple example of just wearing a seatbelt when you’re driving a car, of course, once they become regulations then it becomes more powerful, but connecting your service, your product, your pricing, your underwriting to these things that can again, gradually change people’s behavior is I think the only way that we can change it because it’s not going to change behaviors from day to night, right?

And that’s where I really believe that the power of your industry lies. So yes, it is the right thing to do. It is the right thing to do for consumers. It is the right thing to do for business interest as well. And it’s the right thing to do for societies.

Shaun Tarbuck:

Thanks Mami. So definitely hearing we need a paradigm shift in how we’re doing business, but it sounds as if we’re pushing at a willing door here and collective intelligence may help us get there I think fully. Moving to the next question. What role can we play by utilizing our assets to create a more sustainable infrastructure projects and help to build resilient communities? And I’ll start with you again, Rob, if that’s okay.

Rob Wesseling:

That’s perfect, Shaun. I also, I almost started blathering on mute there, but I managed to save you from having to interrupt me. So here I want to talk a little bit about a journey The Co-operators has been on, but before I do that, I want to reference a point that Hilde made and also a point that Ylva made earlier. So Hilde said that, we can be a beacon for others in society and others in the industry.

I like to use the word catalyst. We can be a catalyst for others to act because we are purpose built organizations. And in a moment I’m going to reference one of the examples that Ylva shared. And I’ll reference it because Ylva’s organization has actually been a catalyst for The Co-operators. And so look for that in a moment.

The journey that I want to take you on is really about The Co-operators trying to find ways to use the asset side of its balance sheet, our invested assets to drive the changes in our society and in our economy that we believe are in the best interest of our members and our clients and our communities. And so sometime ago we started down the path of impact investing.

What I can share with you today is that more than 21% of our invested assets are in externally verified impact, they are doing things like creating renewable energy. They’re creating beds and long-term care homes and hospitals, they’re creating educational opportunities, they’re creating resilient farming opportunities. And what I can also share with you is this is good business. This is a very low volatility portfolio.

It’s held up extremely well through all the volatility in the pandemic period, and we get market rates of return. So it’s not only aligned with the change that we desire to see in our society, it is also just very good business. This asset class didn’t exist at any scale 15 years ago. And so it’s incredible that we have this opportunity now. We’ve just made a new set of commitments and the new set of commitments are aligned with our net zero asset owners by 2050 commitment.

And so the interim commitment is that by 2030, fully 60% of our invested assets will be in one of three categories. The first one is impact, I’ve just talked about that. The second is transition. So we will be investing in businesses that have made commitments or have made interim targets that are hitting them to a net zero economy by 2050 aligned with the Paris Accord. And the third is resiliency investing. And this is where I want to give Ylva and her team credit.

We at The Co-operators, we’re trying to find a way to think about how, to imagine how we could use the asset side of our balance sheet to build resiliency in the communities that we serve and lo and behold it’s already been done. And so Ylva, when I first heard you tell the story of the flood resilience that was being built using your members assets and using the assets of your organization, it just a light went off and we lept forward probably five years in our thinking as a result of that. And we now have a.

We’re building a pilot program that will follow in those footsteps. And it’s our goal that we will use the asset side of our balance sheet, that we will invest in infrastructure projects that will make the urban forest interface in areas that are at risk for wildfire in Canada safer, that we’ll build flood defenses for communities in Canada that are at significant risk for flood, et cetera, et cetera.

It takes a very large set of partnerships in the Canadian context to be able to do it, but I’m convinced that we’ll be successful. And part of that confidence comes from the inspiration of other cooperatives and mutuals that are part of the ICMIF family. So Shaun, I’ll pause there.

Shaun Tarbuck:

Great story. And I suppose that sets you up perfectly Ylva, isn’t it? And I know you’ve got a few other things to add to as well.

Ylva Wessen:

First thank you Rob, for all the words, nice words telling about us. And I’m really happy to hear that we can be an inspiration because I would say that’s the best grade we can have. And yeah. Well, what should I say? I could start to talk about that example, where we built new walls that Rob is referring to, and that is in Kristianstad in Sweden. It’s low lying and coastal city that risks being affected by climate change when rainfall increases and water level rise.

And we saw that housing for thousands of people and several important societal functions are threatened by flooding if the water cannot be shielded from the buildings. So we have invested in new walls in Kristianstad, and the new embankment will withstand water level up to 3.7 meters above normal. It’s a total of 10 kilometers of embankment that will be built and the project is expected to be completed in 2025.

And that is just one of many examples where we have invested our customers money, both sustainably and without compromising on returns because as Rob said, it’s good business. It’s good business for the savings and it’s good business for the policy holders on the insurance. And for us we have a tradition of investing in green bonds. We were one of the initiators of the UN-Convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance, which I’ve been talking previously about. And I can give you a quite new example.

This just happened last week, we invested almost U.S. $400 million in a green bond from the World Bank, which aims to finance sustainable development around the world and Folksam is the sole investor in that bond. And among other things, it will contribute to supporting projects in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and biodiversity. And as an example, it will finance an energy project in Indonesia that will reduce the carbon emissions by 30 million tons over the next 30 years.

And in Botswana, it will help to finance a water project with aim of facilitating and improving the water supply for areas that are regularly affected by drought. So it’s good to invest in your own community, but you also have to go globally, I would say because the challenge of climate change it’s globally. So Rob, I hope I can inspire you to go even further.

Shaun Tarbuck:

I like this. Can I just ask. Go on, Rob.

Rob Wesseling:

I just wanted to say challenge accepted over.

Shaun Tarbuck:

That’s what I love. Can I just ask Ylva, do you have any influence over where the projects in the developing world are chosen, or the type of projects through the World Bank bond?

Ylva Wessen:

Of course when we initiate dialogue with the World Bank or the European Investment Bank, it’s the banks who decide where to, they have the knowledge to where to put the money and we have the money, but of course we are interested in how the money is used. And it’s a dialogue, of course it is, but the expertise is at the World Bank and the European Investment Bank, I would say.

Shaun Tarbuck:

Okay. Thanks Ylva. Hilde, your examples please.

Hilde Vernaillen:

Well, I can only be very modest when I listen to Rob and Ylva on what they’ve been doing. And I can say that Co-operators and Folksam are names that we use here as an example, as well in the investing teams, because well, what you are doing is really above average of anybody. So we also have criteria of course, for investments in impact investment in using the SDG framework with a very difficult again, balance in investing for instance, in assets that can make a difference in climate change, but also other things like fighting… for instance, which is an important SDG for us.

So we’ve really compared to Co-operators and Folksam at the beginning of the journey, but we will be there once. And yes, more focused on local community and in Belgium also trying to invest in infrastructure in private public partnership. And we have a difficult country when you’re talking about private public partnerships, it’s quite similar to Canada, but this is much smaller, so it’s even worse when you try to do something with impact future, we’re be there.

Shaun Tarbuck:

Thanks Hilde. We’re all on this journey. Sorry, go on Ylva.

Ylva Wessen:

Yeah. So I just wanted to refer to Hilde, as you said so wisely in the beginning that we can all do something. You don’t have to go for the big bang, you have just to start somewhere and that’s have you done doing.

Hilde Vernaillen:

That’s true. Thank you.

Shaun Tarbuck:

Exactly. It’s a journey, isn’t it? And the journey we all need to start. So that’s brilliant. Mami, any comments on that?

Mami Mizutori:

So risk informed investment, that’s what we’ve been really advocating for because where the money goes is really going to determine whether we’re going to build the resilience society or the opposite. I mean, there have been quite good studies like World Bank as lifeline saying that every dollar spent in resilience for infrastructure will save up to $4 in the post-disaster reconstruction, recovery phase. And so it’s something that we know it’s true.

So really and how can we have more people like Rob, Ylva and Hilde, making this a goal. And the asset side of your industry’s balance sheet is going to make a big difference either way. And I can see that you’re making the difference in a positive way. And as you say Rob, we can only do these things in partnership.

That’s why we as a UN organization, we’d like to work more on the resilience of infrastructure, trying to make, it’s a big ambition, but global standards for different types of resilience in infrastructure, working more with regulators. And that’s why Rob I’m delighted I can join you at your global conference in March because we need to advocate working with you, being at your site, showcasing what you’re doing. And that I think is really the importance of ICMIF and UNDRR, the UN system working together.

Shaun Tarbuck:

Thanks Mami. Moving to our last question. We’ve both got big forums this year with the GP conference in Indonesia and ICMIF one in Rome. So I’d like to position this as a forward thinking question. So where do you think we’ll be by 2030, both as the mutual sector, but also as the insurance sector collectively? Because that is the end of the Sendai agreement, 2015 to 2030.

I’m sure there’ll be another one, but that’s when we benchmark. And as you said Mami, quite rightly we’re halfway through and there’s going to be a measure now. Well, where do you think we will be and will that be enough to fulfill the goals of the Sendai agreement? So again, now I’ll turn to you for first, Rob.

Rob Wesseling:

Okay. Thanks Shaun.

My honest answer is, I don’t know, but I am hopeful. I believe that the work that ICMIF is doing, that ICMIF members are doing in partnership with UNDRR and others, we have the opportunity to have made a real difference towards the seven goals of the Sendai Framework by 2030, we have a real opportunity to do that.

Mami talked about all of the progress that’s been made globally in the last seven years and a bit. It feels to me we’re at the point now where we need to operationalize, we need to act and take advantage of the opportunities that have been created. So I believe the mutual and cooperative sector has a wonderful opportunity to make an impactful difference in that timeframe. And to the point I’ll mention it again, that Hilde made earlier, if we do so we can be a catalyst for others.

And I believe we can show the way and demonstrate this is simply good business and others will follow. The last point that’ll make is I’ll reiterate though that story is not written yet. We have to choose the path that we will go down over the next seven and a half years to 2030. And it’s important that collectively, we pick a path that is a path that is towards resilience, a path that is towards a transition to net zero that is going to be as orderly as possible. And so that’s the challenge for all of us, I think, is how do we operationalize that? How do we make it happen?

Shaun Tarbuck:

Excellent points Rob, thank you. Ylva.

Ylva Wessen:

Thank you. This image was inspired by a quote by Canadian biologist and environmental, activist named David Suzuki. We’re in a giant car heading towards a brick wall, and everyone is arguing over where they’re going to sit. And Mami, I was really inspired by your words in the beginning. They say, all of us together we need to have more action in an orderly way to tackle the climate change. And I think that this picture gives an idea on what we need to do.

We need to steer and to yeah, to do it in an orderly away. The picture has a point. Climate change affect us all. And we are all on the bus. And we the insurance and pension industry, we do have the power and the resources to change, but to solve this, it might be the most complex problem in human history, and we need to corporate and scale up. And it’s not far to 2030. And yeah, I will stop there because the time is running.

Shaun Tarbuck:

Thank you. I love that. That does sum up I think the industry and all the different people on the bus. So that’s maybe through ICMIF, we can steer it in the right direction, that’s the aim. Hilde, you’re our chair, are we steering the right way?

Hilde Vernaillen:

For me it’s very easy being after Rob and Ylva all the time, because then I don’t need talk too much because again, I can only agree. I do think we are on the good way with partnership ICMIF and UNDRR. There’s still a long way to go. We will start measuring and then I think that’s very important. And it’s showing the way to the insurance industry, but maybe not only to the insurance industry, also to other industries, because the insurance will not do it alone.

Insurance is even only mentioned once I think in the Sendai report. And it’s talking about making the difference by investment in resilience. That’s one part, but that’s not the only thing. Also at ICMIF I do think we do play a role as an association. And it’s also mentioned in the report that professional associations, well, somewhere should show the way and sharing best practices and creating awareness and so on.

That’s something we are doing. So again, that’s only good way, but still a long way to go. And in the partnership, we are also showing an example of international corporation, which is also a very important one. And Shaun referred to history where I think we were in contact with UNDRR from the beginning, even before the Sendai report and we’re still there today. I think that’s really because our purpose is the same and our belief is the same, and we will see each other again in Indonesia and in Rome and go forward from there and as Rob said, still a long way to go, but I think we can make it.

Shaun Tarbuck:

Thank you, Hilde. Thank you for linking back to the Sendai agreement, which I’m sure is going to set Mami up for her final remarks.

Mami Mizutori:

Definitely Shaun. Well, if there is a silver lining of the terrible past two years, is that the awareness for more prevention, need from more prevention in resilience. Sendai Framework 2015, your of group people, I think you were already convinced you were there, but not many people. It took us a pandemic. It’s taking us also climate emergency, but the awareness is there. Now we always say, we cannot waste any disaster.

If we waste this disaster, there’s multi hazard situation and if we don’t get our act together and get it done in 2030, although we are derailed, I think we are really not in the right minds. There are the number of people who are with us, the number of groups, different groups, especially young people, the vulnerable people is getting larger and their voices are getting stronger, I actually feel that failure is not an option. And midterm, yes, we already had seven years, but we have seven more years from 2023. So I really look forward to working with this committed group, your committed CEOs and your entire membership towards 2030.

Shaun Tarbuck:

Thank you, Mami. That’s great. And I want to thank you all for a great debate. I hope it’s inspired many to do more or learn from your peers. Robert Otto, I think you’re still listening. You managed to get into the listening side, but not into the panel. It would’ve been great to have you on board, but I’m sorry. You tried really hard and just thank you very much for keeping on trying, but next time Robert, we’ll make sure you are the focus as well.

Thank you all for listening. Just a reminder again, here’s a couple of links. If you want to find out more, there’s the report there and the Prevention Hub. This is part of the series as of high level webinars that we hope to produce every month as we build up to our conference in Rome. And you’ll see all of these panelists here speaking in Rome. So we are launching the website this week.

So thank you once again panelists, that was excellent. Thank you.


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