Environmental Tools for the Insurance and Financial Industries

9-10 June 1998 | Cologne, Germany The Third International Conference of the UNEP Insurance Industry Initiative “Environmental Tools for the Insurance and Financial Industries” was hosted from 9 to 10 June 1998 by Gerling Global Re in Cologne, Germany. Bringing together insurers, other financial service providers, environmentalists, academics, politicians, non-governmental organizations and journalists, four informal parallel workshops considered aspects of the environmental complex in relation to the insurance industry. They presented their findings, conclusions, and suggestions to the concluding plenary session. The conference not only provided an opportunity for insurers and the providers of financial services to exchange views and experiences but also helped demonstrate, that greening operations also offer business opportunities. For the financial sector, anticipation and adaptation to market trends and customer needs is a matter of survival. The profitability of this sector is also inextricably linked to the risks taken in working with customers that degrade the environment and at the same time are not innovating in the eco-efficient technologies and practices which will bring them economic benefits. Emerging environmental issues are creating new challenges for the insurance industry: climate change is the source of natural disasters that insurers have to increasingly cover. New risks related to the production and use of new chemicals or products are appearing and it is of crucial importance for the insurance industry to take part in the corresponding debate. The Third International Conference of the UNEP Insurance Initiative was consciously designed as a participatory event, one without predetermined conclusions. The insurance industry faces great and unprecedented challenges in the environmental arena, much like other industries, government and non-governmental organizations. The problems are of an interdisciplinary and still largely undefined nature. A practical approach requires openness and a willingness to consider contrary views. The point of this conference was therefore not for participants to listen to lectures, but to take active part in a dialogue aimed at formulating ideas for solutions.