Staying the course: Swiss Re supports global initiatives to create a sustainable world

Swift response to pandemics, climate change among topics tackled by Swiss Re and partners during UN & Clinton Global Initiative summits in New York.

Formal adoption of the UN's new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were high on the agenda for Swiss Re CEO Michel M. Liès and other public and private sector officials  gathered for a series of meetings in New York on the eve of the  UN General Assembly.

The SDG's focus on ending hunger and poverty by 2030; making countries, cities and villages inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; and urgently combatting climate change and its impacts. 

"As a founding partner of the 100 Resilient Cities initiative, I regard the new UN Urban Partnership for the Sustainable Development Goals a very powerful addition to the cause. City Mayors around the world are calling for world leaders to take concrete and decisive steps to create economies based on the principles of sustainable development.

"We want governments to recognize insurance and pre-emptive risk management as crucial components of the future-proofing toolbox," Liès said.

Former Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Swiss Re Group CEO Michel Liès at the CGI panel discussion "Investing in Prevention and Resilient Health Systems." Photo: CGI/flickr

Swift pandemic response

Disasters or rising climate impacts aren't the only shocks a society can experience – pandemics are too. Liès outlined the status and development of the innovative Pandemic Emergency Facility (PEF) during the panel session "Investing in Prevention and Resilient Health Systems" at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting on 27 September.

Spurred by the Ebola crisis in West Africa, the World Bank and insurers are working together to allow funds to be quickly released in the event of future pandemics, so that emergency workers, equipment and medicine can be deployed to an affected area as soon as possible.

"A pandemic is an actual catastrophe," argued Liès. "Pandemic bonds allow governments better risk management, and importantly to free up significant response capital when a pandemic happens."

Paul Polman, the Group CEO of Unilever; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala former Finance Minister of Nigeria, and Charlize Theron, Founder of the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP) were also on the panel.

Addressing the world's problems in our DNA

In addition to being an SGD signatory, Swiss Re was one of the first private sector companies making a UN climate commitment last year, and will be represented at the UN Paris Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in December.

"To quote Ban Ki Moon, a more sustainable world will also be a safer world. It has never been more urgent that the public and private sectors join forces to address the growing challenges we all face, shifting to a more equitable and more sustainable trajectory," Liès said.

"I'm proud to say that insurance plays a fundamental role in this effort, and that we're committed for the long term."

Published 29 September 2015

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"A pandemic is an actual catastrophe," argued Liès. "Pandemic bonds allow governments better risk management, and importantly to free up significant response capital when a pandemic happens."

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