Insurance industry can propel transition to ‘green’ economy – UN

Green Economy

22 October 2009 – Top executives from global insurance companies believe their industry can play a crucial role in speeding up the transition to a ‘green’ economy, according to a new survey backed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The industry can also support sustainable development, and to ensure its long-term growth, it must integrate environmental, social and governance factors into insurance underwriting guidelines, the report found.

It was launched today in Cape Town, South Africa, at a gathering of the UN Environment Programme’s Financial Initiative (UNEP FI), a partnership between the agency and more than 180 financial institutions around the world.

“The insurance industry has long been in the vanguard of understanding and managing risk, and has served as an important early-warning system for society by amplifying risk signals,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

It has helped to protect society, shape markets and bolsters economic development through its actions in loss prevention and mitigation, he said.

“And the message is loud and clear: insurers are communicating strong risk signals stemming from a wide range of environmental, social and governance issues, from climate change, biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation and water scarcity, to poverty, emerging man-made health risks, ageing populations, child labour and corruption,” the official added.

The 100-page survey, entitled “The Global State of Sustainable Insurance – understanding and integrating environmental, social and governance factors in insurance,” was also welcomed by United Kingdom’s Prince Charles, who wrote the foreword to the new report.

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