Implementing Environmental Commitment in the Insurance Industry

20-21 May, 1996 | London, UK
For over 20 years, UNEP — which serves as the environmental agency of the United Nations — has worked closely with industry in developing environmental management strategies. Since 1991, we have worked with a small group of commercial banks in trying to understand and catalyze industry’s awareness of the environmental agenda. Two years ago a UNEP insurance steering group was established which drafted the “UNEP Statement of Environmental Commitment by the Insurance Industry“. This Statement was officially launched in November 1995 in Geneva. Only six months after the launch almost 60 insurance companies have signed this statement and committed themselves to incorporate environmental considerations into their operations and to adopt best practices. The main objective of this Conference on “Implementing Environmental Commitment in the Insurance Industry” — from UNEP’s perspective — was to facilitate a dialogue and exchange of views among insurers from various leading companies. As you know, a tremendous amount of effort is currently underway in assessing the environmental links to the financial services sector. It entails further work by the insurance and re-insurance sectors in quantifying sectorial and regional risks. It includes greater targeting of investment funds towards the multi-billion dollar market in green goods and services. UNEP is neither a financial agency, nor a lending institute. Yet, we are convinced that the greening of the financial services sector is of critical importance in building sustainable development. Although any policy and business change is gradual, it is imperative that environmental considerations be integrated into how business decisions are made, day in, and day out. Not as a matter of good public relations, but because it makes solid business sense.