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Sovereign to host landmark UN meeting in Auckland

Media release
For immediate release
Monday 20 June 2011

Sovereign to host landmark UN meeting in Auckland

A United Nations-facilitated meeting in Auckland in August will develop ground-breaking new sustainability principles for the global insurance sector.

Auckland has been chosen as the venue for the Oceania round of the global talks, which are designed to help the insurance industry better address environmental and social concerns, and risk. Industry leaders and other interested parties, such as government and academia, are being encouraged to attend.

“As an industry, we’re laying down a great challenge,” says Charles Anderson, CEO of Sovereign, which is hosting the meeting. “This initiative will lay the foundations for a global insurance industry that will be stronger, better adapted to the needs of the environment, and better able to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”
The Principles for Sustainable Insurance Regional Consultation Meeting for Oceania, to be held at Auckland’s Hilton Hotel on 12 August is one of seven meetings being held around the world ahead of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (‘Rio+20 Conference’) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in May 2012.
The Oceania talks will be hosted by The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), a strategic partnership between UNEP and the global financial sector; in collaboration with Sovereign, the UNEP FI Insurance Commission Board member for Oceania; the Investment Savings and Insurance Association of New Zealand; and the Insurance Council of Australia.

Speakers will include mountaineer and philanthropist Peter Hillary; Robert Whelan, Executive Director and CEO of the Insurance Council Australia; Peter Neilson, Chief Executive Officer of the Investment Savings and Insurance Association (ISI); and Butch Bacani, programme leader of the UNEP FI Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative.

CEO of New Zealand’s ISI Peter Neilson, strongly encourages key leaders in the insurance industry to attend the Auckland talks.

“Despite the best efforts of regulators and advisers, the long term success of the insurance industry rests on policy holders’ confidence that they can trust their insurance company to act in their best interests.

“In the past that was often measured in having lower premiums and reliably paying out claims. Today consumers not only want appropriate coverage, they also want to know that insurance providers act ethically with respect to their employees, customers, suppliers and the investment activities they undertake.
“Insurance companies rarely have a significant direct footprint on the environment, but we can still reduce our adverse impact and save money in doing so if we make it a focus.”

Neilson adds “The biggest impact we can make in helping to make the world a better place is in how and where we invest. Increasingly, both our customers and investors want to know that we are investing in ways that are sustainable.”
The seven UN-facilitated, insurance industry-led and multi-stakeholder meetings will develop global Principles for Sustainable Insurance. These will give the industry clear and actionable guidelines for systematically and pro-actively addressing environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities.

“It’s an ambitious goal, but it’s an achievable goal – and a necessary one,” says Charles Anderson, who is also a board member for the UNEP FI Insurance Commission, Oceania. “To be successful, the Principles for Sustainable Insurance must be embedded into our everyday business, industry-wide. This meeting is not about talk; it’s about commitment.”

A draft Principles for Sustainable Insurance consultation document has been prepared ahead of the regional meetings, and will be discussed in Auckland. Once all the global regions have weighed in, the Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative will be launched at the UN Conference for Sustainable Development in Brazil.

“At this landmark meeting, the global insurance industry will stand with the United Nations to make a long-term commitment to the goals of sustainable development,” says Charles Anderson. “This is a very rare and invaluable opportunity to ensure our future impact on the environment and the community is a positive one.”


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