International insurance regulators establish forum to address sustainability issues
News: 2016 Press Release
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – A new international network of insurance regulators and supervisors has been launched to promote cooperation on critical sustainable insurance challenges, such as climate change. Held in San Francisco, the first meeting of the Sustainable Insurance Forum included insurance supervisors and regulators from Brazil, California, France, Ghana, Jamaica, Morocco, the Netherlands, Singapore and the U.K., as well as the International Association of Insurance Supervisors.
The insurance sector is pivotal to an effective response to sustainable development. This includes providing coverage against natural disasters as well as integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into the management of their assets. Increasingly, insurance regulators and supervisors are exploring how these factors impact upon their goals of ensuring the safety, soundness and accountability of the sector. For the first time, the Forum provides an international platform for insurance regulatory and supervisory bodies to share experience and explore common approaches.
The California Department of Insurance and UN Environment co-hosted the inaugural meeting of the Forum.
"Insurance regulators have an important role to ensure that critical sustainability risks and opportunities are effectively managed," said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "The new Forum will enable supervisors to learn from each other and take common action against shared threats to the insurance sector such as climate change."
"Insurance is one of the pivotal sectors underpinning the transition to sustainable development," said UN Environment's Assistant Secretary General Elliott Harris. "As part of this, regulators and supervisors will play a vital role and UN Environment is delighted to be the secretariat for the new Forum."
The Forum builds on UN Environment's long-standing work on sustainable insurance—and UN Environment will provide the Forum's secretariat. UN Environment is home for the Principles for Sustainable Insurance, which provides a structured framework for insurance companies to integrate ESG factors into their operations. In addition, UN Environment's Financial Inquiry has explored how the rules that govern the financial system, including the insurance sector, can best promote long-term sustainable development. A leadership group of eight jurisdictions—including Brazil, France, the Netherlands, the Philippines, South Africa, the U.K. and the U.S. States of California and Washington—has guided the design of the Forum.
The San Francisco meeting approved the Forum's first year work programme for 2017, including a focus on disclosure, access to insurance, sustainable insurance road maps, climate risk, disaster risk reduction and capacity building for supervisors.
The Forum's inaugural meeting also benefited from presentations from the insurance sector and sustainability experts including from Aon, Bahamas First General Insurance, CERES, DLA Piper, Insurance Association of the Caribbean, Mercer, S&P, SwissRe and the 2Degrees Initiative.
Natalie Haanwinckel Hurtado, Secretary General of Brazil's Superintendence of Private Insurance (SUSEP) said: "SUSEP welcomes the launch of the Sustainable Insurance Forum as a way for us to both learn from the experience of others and share Brazil's lessons with our peers in other countries."
Commissioner Lydia Bawa of the National Insurance Commission of Ghana said: "In providing a space for supervisors and regulators to convene and collaborate, the Sustainable Insurance Forum can inspire other jurisdictions to tackle critical sustainability issues."
David Rule, Executive Director of Insurance Supervision at the U.K.'s Prudential Regulatory Authority said: "The potential for an international network to share experience among regulators was highlighted in our landmark review of the insurance sector and climate change. We are delighted that this seed of an idea has now come to fruition."
Yoshiro Kawai, Secretary General of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors, said: "As IAIS' Secretary General, I welcome the establishment of the Forum as a platform for insurance supervisors to discuss how they can support the development of an insurance industry that contributes to environmental, social and economic sustainability."
Nick Robins, co-director of the Inquiry added: "The launch of the Sustainable Insurance Forum highlights the leadership that exists across the world among a growing number of insurance supervisors. Its work programme aims to make a real difference in the way that insurance supervisors respond to the world's sustainability challenges."
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- Photo from the event is available on CDI's Flickr site.
- The California Department of Insurance: As regulator of the largest insurance market in the United States, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones leads a national, multi-state insurance regulators group that surveys annually more than 1,000 companies regarding their response to climate risk, capturing approximately 77 percent of the entire U.S. insurance market. In January 2016, Jones launched the Climate Risk Carbon Initiative to enable the industry, regulators, consumers and investors to assess climate risks posed for insurers' investments in fossil fuel holdings and thermal coal enterprises. Commissioner Jones is the first insurance regulator in the nation to call on insurance companies to divest from thermal coal. Jones is also the first to announce that he will require insurance companies to provide detailed and public disclosures of their investments in the carbon economy. The data received will be used to better inform regulators, interested members of the public, and the insurance companies themselves on the extent to which they hold carbon investments facing potential climate risk. The information also enhances regulators' future in-depth financial analysis and financial examinations of insurers with regard to climate risk. More information on the Climate Risk Carbon Initiative.
- UN Environment's Principles for Sustainable Insurance: The Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) serve as a global framework for the insurance industry to address environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities, and to strengthen its contribution to building resilient, inclusive and sustainable communities and economies. Endorsed by the UN Secretary-General and insurance CEOs, the PSI was launched at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development and is the largest collaborative initiative between the UN and the insurance industry. Nearly 100 organizations worldwide have adopted the PSI, including insurers representing more than 20 percent of world premium volume and USD 14 trillion in assets under management. More information on the PSI is at: www.unepfi.org/psi or from: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- UN Environment's Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System: The Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System has been initiated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to advance policy options to improve the financial system's effectiveness in mobilizing capital towards a green and inclusive economy—in other words, sustainable development. Established in January 2014, it published the first edition of 'The Financial System We Need' in October 2015, and the second edition 'From Momentum to Transformation' in October 2016. The Inquiry's mandate currently extends to the end of 2017, with work focused on deepening and taking forward its findings. More information on the Inquiry is at: www.unep.org/inquiry/ and www.unepinquiry.org or from email@example.com.
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.