Walter B. Kielholz
Michel M. Liès
It is our pleasure to present to you our 2014 Corporate Responsibility Report. In this publication, we describe how we contribute to sustainable progress and what we achieved during 2014. As in previous years, our Report doubles as our disclosure document for two voluntary commitments we have made to the United Nations: the UN Global Compact and the UNEP FI Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI). We remain committed to both initiatives and will continue to play an active role in the PSI.
Our strategic priorities have largely stayed the same in recent years. By building on our earlier work, we made some notable achievements and launched important new initiatives in 2014. Incidentally, we believe that this focus on continuous improvement is a key reason why we regained the sector leadership in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices. It is a distinction we are proud of, because it shows that our stakeholders appreciate how we live our commitment as a responsible company.
Below, we would like to summarise some of last year’s highlights:
In our core re/insurance business, we continued to create innovative solutions that help our clients and society at large to tackle major sustainability-related risks. Natural catastrophes and climate change, volatile weather, renewable energy and funding longer lives remained our focus areas. Across these risks, we have continued to place special emphasis on giving vulnerable communities in emerging and developing countries better access to insurance protection.
Reflecting this goal, we have recently made two significant commitments. In 2012, we pledged to the Grow Africa Partnership that we would help insure up to 1.4 million smallholder farmers against bad weather that may threaten their crops and thus their livelihoods. We are happy to report that, at the end of 2014, a total of two million farmers were newly insured thanks to innovative index-based products. Last year, we signed a second commitment, this time to the United Nations: addressing its Climate Summit in New York, we announced that we would advise 50 sovereigns and sub-sovereigns by 2020, offering them up to USD 10 billion of re/insurance protection.
Through our solutions we expand insurance protection; in our risk management, however, our focus is on detecting and addressing risks that we feel we should not insure for ethical reasons or that may pose a challenge to our business. We have specific tools to address sustainability, political, regulatory and emerging risks. In 2014, our underwriting teams referred a total of 454 transactions to our Sensitive Business Risks process, up from 210 in the previous year. This marked increase was due to our expanding business in high growth markets and our ongoing training efforts. All of the transactions were carefully screened by our in-house sustainability experts; in 43 cases we decided to abstain from the transaction.
Many of the large-scale risks facing society today are complex, and finding viable responses to them requires cooperation between various partners. This is why we place a strong focus on open, constructive dialogue.
Guided by our five Top Topics, we continued to engage with our partners and share our risk expertise in many ways during 2014, including several new publications. Our own conference facility, the Centre for Global Dialogue near Zurich, organised events on a range of different risk topics. For example, a two-day conference put the spotlight on the gradual advent of autonomous cars, which are going to pose a major challenge to established insurance practices and require new solutions.
As a typical knowledge company, we do not cause large environmental impacts. Yet, we firmly believe it is essential for any responsible company to minimise its footprint, thus leading by example. Given the strategic relevance of climate change for our business, our CO2 emissions and energy consumption remained top priorities. After launching new seven-year cycles of our pioneering Greenhouse Neutral Programme and COyou2 Programme in 2013, both continued seamlessly last year. We also launched the RE100 initiative as one of its founding members: in a joint effort with several other large companies, we want to encourage better supplies of renewable energy in some key emerging markets, so we can cover 100% of our energy requirements from renewable sources by 2020.
None of these initiatives and achievements would have been possible without our committed and skilful workforce. Remaining successful in today’s fast-moving marketplace and at the same time making a substantial contribution to sustainable progress can be challenging. We are fully aware of this and would like to thank all our employees for the great work they achieved for Swiss Re in 2014.
Zurich, June 2015
Walter B. Kielholz
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Michel M. Liès
Group Chief Executive Officer
The Swiss Re Foundation in 2014 – Heading for resilience
This separate report describes in detail how the Swiss Re Foundation helps communities to build resilience to risk.