Sustainable development creates win-win situations: Swiss Re supports new UN Sustainable Development Agenda 2030

We've got just this one Earth. Let's preserve it for future generations.

In essence, that's what the 193 member states of the United Nations have committed to by declaring the new Sustainable Development Goals – the new SDG agenda 2030. It contains a broad range of sustainable development goals for fighting hunger by increasing food security to ensure availability of water; and from combating climate change to developing cities in a sustainable manner that reduces their vulnerability to natural disaster risks. This is a remarkable political milestone: for the first time, all nations commit to a common agenda for sustainable development.

Swiss Re strongly endorses the new UN SDG agenda 2030. Our long-standing commitment to sustainable business is well known and broadly acknowledged, most recently by being named as the insurance industry sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) for the second consecutive year - and the ninth time since 2004.

New goals challenging, but doable

What does the new UN SDG agenda 2030 mean for Swiss Re? Thomas Wellauer, Group Chief Operating Officer, says: "We see this as a great opportunity. Sustainable development benefits all. The new goals provide a strong vision and alignment of efforts by governments, NGOs, and the private sector. Swiss Re will analyse the goals to identify areas where we can make a contribution based on our business focus, our competencies and our partnership network".

To achieve the new UN goals for sustainable development by the set year 2030 is indeed a tall order. But then, so were the Millennium Development Goals the UN set for the timespan 2000-2015. Very substantial progress was made towards many of these goals in areas like the reduction of poverty, hunger and access to improved water sources.

This is an encouraging lesson: setting ambitious goals helps align efforts at national and hopefully also at international levels towards driving the new SGD agenda. It also provides great opportunities for a multi-stakeholder approach where international institutions, governments, NGOs and the private sector team up to develop innovative approaches that help make progress on the path to sustainable development.

Michel M. Liès, Swiss Re's Group Chief Executive Officer says: "The new agenda for sustainable development creates opportunities for win-win situations: when Swiss Re works with partners like Oxfam, the UN World Food Programme, Columbia University and others to develop solutions that help smallholder farmers in Africa to cope with the negative effects of climate change, this reinforces the resilience of local agricultural communities. But it also contributes to creating insurance markets where there were none, and thus lays the ground for further development steps."

Public-private partnership in action

Swiss Re actively participated in the three-year national consultation process in the run-up to the new agenda 2030. We provided insights from a private sector perspective to the Swiss government. Indeed, this new UN SGD agenda will simply not fly without the comprehensive mobilization of resources from the private sector! Swiss Re strongly suggested that the new UN goals be backed up by a solid and transparent approach to measure progress and to hold stakeholders accountable for their commitments.

The private sector can build on strong ground here. Many companies – including Swiss Re – report annually on their efforts to ensure sustainability across all business processes. Many do so based on the standards developed by the Global Reporting Initiative. This allows investors and other stakeholders to compare achievements – an important requirement to enable investors to decide about where to put their money.

Published 25 September 2015

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