Zurich commits to new sustainability actions at Climate Week NYC 2019
September 24, 2019
After earning a top spot in Dow Jones Sustainability Index, Zurich commits to UN Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance and other coalitions; also plans climate advisory service
Mario Greco, CEO of Zurich Insurance Group, and other Zurich executives announced the company’s climate-related progress and commitments during Climate Week NYC 2019, an annual gathering of global business, government and civic leaders coinciding with the United Nations Climate Action Summit and the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit.
NEW YORK — Zurich is taking specific new steps to accelerate progress on climate change resilience after new assessments show that our company is making strides on sustainability, but the world is still not on course to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement.
“Business has a critical role to play in transforming the global economy to tackle climate change,” Greco said. “At Zurich, we are determined to play our part. The recent Dow Jones Sustainability Index shows Zurich is already ahead of 99% of its peers, but we want to go further. In June we were the first insurance company to sign the Business Ambition for 1.5°C Pledge and we continue to seek partners focused on driving meaningful impact. It makes sense economically, strategically and above all, it’s just the right thing to do.”
Zurich recently learned it earned a leading spot on the 2019 Dow Jones Sustainability Index, based on actions taken toward environmental, economic and social sustainability over the past year. Zurich raised its scores on all three dimensions and outperformed 99% of the insurance sector in the index.
Helping businesses to manage climate change risks
As a founding member of the UN Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance launched this week, Zurich is committing to a zero-emission portfolio of investments by 2050, in line with its responsible investment commitment. Zurich also has joined the just-launched Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment, whose goals include unlocking financing for more resilient infrastructure. Zurich also plans a new service to help businesses manage rapidly evolving climate-related risks.
This is fueling demand among businesses for risk management tools that measure the impact of climate change. Zurich plans to launch a Climate Risk Advisory Service during its next strategic cycle to help our business customers assess and manage weather-related risks, which range from changing patterns of severe weather to shifting regulations.
Climate change-related risks are a more critical and urgent challenge than ever for businesses. Many businesses are working to meet the Paris Agreement’s long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, but Zurich’s analysis shows that actions are still falling short of what is needed.
Zurich has updated its climate change white paper “Mitigating the impacts of climate change: Risk management responses,” which provides businesses guidance on how to assess and manage their exposures, vulnerabilities and hazards. It includes Zurich’s climate change scorecard, which since 2017 has measured progress and developments in a range of climate change-related areas.
“Building resilience means helping individuals, organizations and communities respond to changing conditions, challenges and crises in ways that enable them to emerge stronger on the other side,” Zurich North America CEO Kathleen Savio said in a recent article on global sustainability. “Zurich has a long, proud history of helping customers and communities around the world become more resilient.”
Building partnerships to combat climate change
Zurich has also recently joined the Insurance Development Forum, a public-private partnership that is part of a collaboration announced this week with the UN Development Program, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the UK’s Department for International Development, and other public and private sector entities. The goals of the collaboration include contributing risk management expertise and capital to support resilience initiatives and increase insurance protection in some of the most climate-vulnerable parts of the world.
Zurich is engaging with the World Economic Forum on several climate-related projects and has provided initial support to the newly established Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center.
“This is a proud moment for the insurance sector as it highlights how impactful our role can be in bringing resilient thinking to the climate challenge,” said Francis Bouchard, Group Head of Public Affairs & Sustainability for Zurich. “This innovative public-private partnership stands to benefit 500 million at-risk people.”
Public-private collaboration must be at the center of addressing climate change in the short, mid and long term. That is why the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance, now entering its seventh year, commits to scaling up its work in climate action by bringing to 2 million the number of people more resilient to flooding. It will elevate community voices and research findings with international donors and all levels of government.
This is a proud moment for the insurance sector as it highlights how impactful our role can be in bringing resilient thinking to the climate challenge.—Francis Bouchard, Group Head of Public Affairs & Sustainability for Zurich
The Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance has already developed its Post-Event Review Capability (PERC) methodology to provide practical post-disaster recommendations to communities around the world. The PERC framework is being extended this year to study wildfire disasters in addition to flood events, an expansion that has just earned Zurich a 2019 Business Insurance Innovation Award. Earlier this year the methodology earned an Outstanding Achievement Award from the National Hurricane Conference. A study on the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire in Canada was recently released. A study of the 2017-18 California wildfires is forthcoming.