Insuring a sustainable future for all

10 Sep 2019

Insuring a sustainable future for all

Climate change is taking over the world’s agenda as the number one concern for governments, businesses and individuals in recent years, and it is about time. In fact, a 2019 survey by the World Economic Forum of business leaders and experts reveals that climate and environmental issues dominate the ranking of top global risks for the third year in a row.

At the same time, it has been encouraging to see businesses around the world taking a proactive stance towards adopting sustainability measures into their operations, long-term growth plans, and overall business visions and missions.

Working towards a sustainable future for the survival of humanity should be an ongoing commitment for everyone, and there is still room for more to be done and for more businesses to get involved.

The role of the insurance industry

Managing risk is at the heart of insurance – for years, insurers have been instrumental in managing and mitigating the risks of climate change and other emerging threats to essential ecosystems. Looking ahead, I see an increasingly important role that the insurance industry will need to play in contributing to the ongoing efforts around global sustainability.

Around the world, the green movement has gained traction within the industry with initiatives ranging from green insurance products to incentivising insureds for adoption of green practices, and with insurers themselves embracing digitalisation to streamline internal processes and reduce their carbon footprint.

With their deep understanding of the emerging risks, insurers are well placed to inform and work closely with their clients and business partners to raise awareness of environmental, social and governance issues, mitigate risks and co-develop solutions. Given the scale of the sustainability challenges that the world is facing, insurers who form strategic partnerships and collaborations with stakeholders across levels, will drive a more transformational and impactful change.

Insuring against biodiversity loss

Of the many sustainability milestones that we must work towards, safeguarding our biodiversity to counter the effects of climate change, may well be the greatest priority and deserves our immediate attention. This is because the health of our environment is linked to the conservation of our natural ecosystems, flora and fauna, and is closely tied to the survival of humanity. Protecting biodiversity is a key focus for us across the region, and also at the MS&AD Group level. Over the years, our Group has introduced multiple initiatives aimed at conserving biodiversity, while deepening engagement with local communities in the areas of environment, people development and social welfare.

An example of these initiatives include the “Animal Alert Smartphone Service” which is offered through a safe driving app, Suma-ho, owned by our Japanese head office, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance. The app sends an audio alert when a car approaches areas that are prone to accidents involving wild animals. The service was developed because roadkill is one of the key reasons for the declining number of endangered species and finding an effective measure had been an issue for the local communities and authorities.

In Indonesia, our local MSIG office works closely with the Indonesia Ministry of Environment and Forestry to develop the Rainforest Recovery Project, which has successfully restored and rehabilitated the forest of the Paliyan Wildlife Sanctuary in Yogyakarta Special Province on Java Island. The forest will absorb about 70,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. On top of reducing the environmental impact of deforestation, the project also educates the community about the importance of conserving biodiversity for future generations.

In Singapore, I am proud that MSIG is building on the Group’s sustainability initiatives with the launch of the MSIG Biodiversity Trail. This community-based initiative was recently launched and aims to raise greater awareness about the protection of biodiversity for a sustainable future. Produced in partnership with WWF-Singapore and District Race, the initiative combines urban exploration of the Singapore Botanic Gardens with gamification, for an enjoyable and educational experience.

Through this interactive trail, we hope to leverage digital technology to engage and educate more members of the public on the importance of biodiversity conservation.

Like other businesses, insurers should look beyond their own organisations and contribute to the greater progress of society towards a sustainable world. By addressing the risks and the long term impact of our business activities on our stakeholders, we can contribute to the economic, social and environmental well-being of the community. Governments, businesses and individuals around the world must each play their part to fight climate change, advance their sustainability efforts and confront the most critical issue of our time.

The article was contributed by Craig Ellis, CEO, MSIG Insurance (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.