Folksam CEO Ylva Wessén says opportunities for targeted investments for better road safety are needed

Friday, 21 February 2020

To achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it is important to include road safety as a factor to be considered by large investors. That was the message from Folksam's President and CEO Ylva Wessén earlier this week when she spoke at the 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety.

Every year, over one million people are killed in traffic accidents around the world and this week Sweden played host to the 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety (organised by the Government offices of Sweden and the World Health Organisation). The aim of the event was to develop the global road safety targets for 2030. An important question considered during the Conference was how the private sector can contribute to increased road safety through investments.

A key focus of the event was on reducing deaths in traffic and on including road safety in sustainability work. As part of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN's seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) all aim for a change towards a more sustainable society, ensuring a better transport system and improved road safety fits with many of the Goals.

Sweden has what it calls “The Zero Vision” which has contributed to a reduction in mortality rates on Swedish roads by more than half despite growing traffic and they are now some of the lowest in the world. The Swedish road safety work is seen by many as a role model for other countries and this is why the Swedish Ministry of Industry hosted the global conference.

Swedish ICMIF member Folksam has been very active in the field of road safety research for over four decades. This work has contributed to both safer cars and a safer traffic environment. Folksam is also a major investor which manages SEK 455 billion in assets. The company has clear criteria for its investments, criteria that include human rights, climate and anti-corruption.

This week Folksam’s message is that now is the time to unite even more clearly the organisation’s work in road safety and responsible asset management.

“For us as an investor, we would like to see more opportunities to make investments aimed at better road safety, but also clearer reporting from companies on how they take responsibility for road safety in their operations”, said Ylva Wessén, President and CEO of Folksam.

To achieve this, Folksam would like to see two concrete measures, which Ylva Wessén put forward during her participation in an expert panel one the first day of the Conference. Other panelists included representatives from the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and ministers from a number of different countries.

A road safety bond

Folksam would like to see the introduction of a road safety bond, similar to the green bonds already available to support important climate initiatives. A bond based on increased road safety would give Folksam and other investors the opportunity to invest in projects that would involve both climate and health benefits.

Road safety as a parameter in sustainability reports

As responsible investors, Folksam says it wants to have a dialogue and make demands on the companies it invests in, in order to improve and develop their sustainability work. Road safety is an important sustainability issue that has both effects on the climate and on human health. Therefore, Folksam would like to see new sustainability reporting indicators that require companies to report on how they work with traffic safety both in their own company but also in their value chain.

Folksam says it already includes road safety as one of the issues they consider with the companies it invests in.

“We urge other large investors to join us. If we all started to look at road safety as part of achieving Agenda 2030 and clearer reporting from the companies, we can together contribute to an even more sustainable world”, said Ylva Wessén.