Swiss Re Updates Sustainability Risk Framework

Reinsurance giant Swiss Re has updated four policies within its sustainability risk framework (SRF), in response to recent risk developments.

The Zurich-based group, which is the world’s second-largest reinsurer, describes the framework as “an industry-leading risk management instrument to identify sustainability risks in Swiss Re’s core re/insurance business.”

“In risk management, we focus on detecting and avoiding risks that pose a threat to our commitment to sustainability,” said group chief executive officer (CEO) Michel M Liès. “Reflecting recent risk developments affecting the defence industry, nuclear weapons proliferation, oil and gas exploration and forestry, we made important adjustments to four policies of our SRF in 2013.”

The framework is applied globally to Swiss Re’s business transactions as well as investment decisions and comprises eight policies on sensitive sectors or issues. These policies are enforced through a so-called ‘sensitive business risks process’, which works like a due diligence process for case-by-case assessment.

In 2013, a total of 210 business transactions were screened through this due-diligence process, up from 170 transactions a year ago. Out of this, 27 business transactions received negative recommendations and were stopped, while a further 26 transactions received positive recommendations but with certain conditions attached.

Last year the company also successfully ended the first phase of its Greenhouse Neutral Programme, which it launched in 2003. Over the ten years since then, the company was able to achieve a total reduction of CO2 emissions per employee of 56.5%.

At the same time, Swiss Re launched the second phase of the programme running until 2020. The key elements of the new phase are to maintain the substantial emissions reductions achieved and continue to fully offset the remaining emissions. In addition, the company pledged to explore the potential to further reduce its energy intensity, i.e. in power consumption and heating.

Extending the company’s own commitment to its employees, Swiss Re also extended to 2020 its proprietary ‘COyou2’ programme, which provides subsidies to employees around the world for private investments that help cut their own CO2 footprint. The new phase of the programme will end in 2020, in line with the company’s climate change strategy.

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