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2017 Corporate Responsibility Report

Our Sustainability Risk Framework

In a market environment, profitable business activities create economic value. Occasionally, however, they may also adversely affect the environment and certain vulnerable groups. If such impacts are ignored, they may pose a threat to societies’ long-term sustainable development.

For companies this situation can create dilemmas. A specific business transaction may be economically beneficial and in compliance with all legal and regulatory requirements, yet may have significant environmental or social downsides. Swiss Re recognises that such dilemmas exist and develops effective responses through a well-defined approach and by taking decisions based on ethical principles.

Mine (photo)

Mines can potentially have serious consequences on the environment and local communities. A dedicated policy of our Sustainability Risk Framework clearly states when our underwriters need to carry out due-diligence checks on such risks.

Our Sustainability Risk Framework is an advanced risk management instrument specifically designed to identify and address the potentially negative effects of our transactions on local communities, workforces and the environment. This framework applies to all of our business transactions in re/insurance as well as investments, to the extent that we can influence their various aspects.

The Sustainability Risk Framework consists of:

  • Two umbrella policies on human rights and environmental protection plus seven specific guidelines on sensitive sectors or issues;
  • The Sensitive Business Risk (SBR) process comprising an online assessment tool and a referral tool – due diligence mechanisms to assess our business transactions;
  • Company exclusions; and
  • Country exclusions beyond mere compliance with international trade controls.


We define sustainability risks as ethical concerns related to potential environmental and socio-economic impacts of our business transactions, and the reputational risks they may entail.