Our materiality assessment

For our materiality assessment of the most relevant Corporate Responsibility Topics, we use our own risk expertise and insights from dialogue with our stakeholders. The assessment process involves a sequence of defined stages.

When identifying material Corporate Responsibility Topics, we draw both on our internal, embedded risk expertise and the insights we gain from our stakeholder dialogue. In addition, we take into account the views of various standard setters on materiality, eg: reporting requirements, materiality definitions by sustainability rating agencies, multilateral discussions such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, relevant academic research and regulatory developments.

Material insights from our internal risk expertise

As a leading re/insurer, we act as ultimate risk taker in society, which requires us to have a very sound understanding of the risk landscape. This risk expertise embedded in our company and the deep understanding of re/insurance markets also give us a solid foundation to assess material sustainability issues. In many areas of our business, we have special teams, functions and processes to identify and address issues relevant to sustainable development.

Opportunities

In our core re/insurance business there are special units, such as our Global Partnerships function in the Group or the Environmental & Commodity Markets department in our Corporate Solutions Business Unit, that identify underinsured markets and risks, and seek to expand re/insurance protection through commercially viable solutions.

Sustainability risks in our core business

In our risk management, meanwhile, we have a process and the capabilities to identify risks we feel we should not re/insure, be it for ethical reasons, because they might lead to losses, or both. We conduct this analysis through our Sustainability Risk Framework and other tailor-made risk management tools.

Emerging risks

We also maintain a formal process to identify emerging risks called SONAR ("Systematic observation of notions associated with risk"). This enables us to spot, at an early stage, newly developing or changing risks that may have an impact on our business, including risks related to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.

Material insights from dialogue with our stakeholders

Our role as ultimate risk taker in society means that we have an intrinsic interest in maintaining active and ongoing dialogue with our key stakeholders. Generally speaking, this dialogue works in both directions: our partners expect us to share our risk expertise, thus helping them – and society at large – to form effective responses. In turn, we also benefit from this exchange, because it helps us to sharpen our understanding of key risks, including ESG issues, and to set priorities.

Key stakeholders

With regard to such issues, we consider the following groups as our principal stakeholders:

  • Financial community: investors/shareholders, rating agencies, shareholder associations and stock exchanges in addressing sustainability concerns;
  • Clients: cedents, brokers and corporate clients;
  • Employees;
  • Political and legal entities: multilateral organisations (UN), governments, regulators, standard-setting boards;
  • Civil society: general public, NGOs, media, academia.

The Swiss Re Institute

Launched in March 2017, the Swiss Re Institute plays a key role in our stakeholder dialogue. It incorporates successful Swiss Re brands, such as the sigma publication series and the Centre for Global Dialogue, our own in-house conference venue near Zurich. The institute further acts as a coordination point for research output from research-focused business lines within Swiss Re and from external partners.

Our publications

Our publications form another important element of our stakeholder dialogue: in 2017, we published approximately 13 new expertise publications and 17 new fact sheets.

Data from third parties

Complementing the insights we gain directly through dialogue with our stakeholders, we also evaluate and use data provided by specialised third-party organisations such as RepRisk, Sigwatch, MSCI and Sustainalytics as well as the results of academic research.

Our process to assess materiality

When identifying material Corporate Responsibility Topics, we draw both on our internal, embedded risk expertise and the insights we gain from our stakeholder dialogue. In addition, we take into account the views of various standard setters on materiality, eg: reporting requirements, materiality definitions by sustainability rating agencies, multilateral discussions such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, relevant academic research and regulatory developments.

The stages of our materiality assessment

To assess the information from all these sources, we use a process with several steps:

  • Expert analysis by our Sustainability, Emerging & Political RM unit;
  • Interviews with key internal decision makers, our sustainability risk stakeholders (eg investor meetings, events at the Centre for Global Dialogue, project and business related interactions) and external experts (academia, NGOs, consulting firms);
  • Validation of final topics by the Sustainability, Emerging & Political RM unit;
  • Approval and endorsement by the Risk Management Executive Team, Group Executive Committee, Board of Directors;
  • List of material topics finalised by Sustainability, Emerging & Political RM unit;
  • Development/adjustment of sustainability strategy based on final Corporate Responsibility Map.

In our Corporate Responsibility Report, you can view descriptions of our Corporate Responsibility Topics, their links to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the internal targets we have set for them and the progress we have achieved.

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