Why sustainability is so important to insurers

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AXA cares a lot about sustainability – in terms of both its social responsibility and its own business interests.

At its core, the insurance business has always been about thinking and acting in a forward-looking, sustainable, and risk-conscious way. After all, its purpose from the outset was to protect people from sudden, unforeseen risks – be it a fire in a warehouse, a wrecked merchant ship or an accident in a factory. This is in fact how the first insurance contracts came about in Europe. By covering risks such as these, insurers enabled their customers to continue doing business and moving society forward.

Sustainability is part of the DNA of insurance

The business of insurance has depended on a sustainable and risk-conscious approach ever since. Insurers have not only a commitment to their customers, but also an important responsibility toward society as a whole. A society in which risks are well balanced and broadly spread is a richer and more sustainable one.

Sustainable thinking has thus always been part of any insurance company's DNA, even though topics like climate change and social justice have only moved into the spotlight relatively recently. Sustainability as defined these days, covering environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors, is therefore nothing more than a new dimension within a long-established business model. 

Reducing risks for a livable future

"As one of the world's largest insurers and asset managers, we have a great responsibility. Ultimately, however, sustainability also serves our own business interests. Being an insurance company, our business model is based on the calculability of risks. A world in which climate change and other threats are allowed to spiral out of control and give rise to incalculable risks would become uninsurable. That's why it's very much in our interest to ensure a sustainable, livable future for the world," says Daniela Fischer, Head of Human Responsibility at AXA.

Social aspects are also important. History has taught us that a society that has its risks in check offers a higher quality of life. "That said, we're now living in a global society in which risks such as climate change and the loss of biodiversity are the biggest threats of all. With that in mind, we're committed to sustainable business practices and investments worldwide and want to encourage other firms to take the same attitude," explains Daniela Fischer.

"A world in which climate change and other global risks go unchecked would no longer be livable – or insurable"

Daniela Fischer, Head of Human Responsibility, AXA Switzerland

Customers are also becoming ever more demanding when it comes to sustainability. "We're seeing more and more customers asking for sustainable solutions and products, especially as regards investments. It's particularly important for us to be transparent and dependable here and to strike the right balance between customers' various interests by weighing up their expectations in relation to security, returns, and sustainability," says Daniel Gussmann, Chief Investment Officer at AXA Switzerland. 

AXA is a member of various international initiatives and alliances promoting a sustainable future. As one of the world's biggest investors, it bears a special responsibility in this regard, and its size puts it in a position to achieve a significant impact.

Global and local sustainability initiatives

Insurance, investment, and sustainability have been the three cornerstones of AXA's solid business model since the company was founded, and it was an early adopter of ESG as part of its sustainability approach. As a pioneer in mitigating climate change, AXA is rigorously continuing its efforts in this area and supporting various local and global projects ranging from sustainable construction to promoting biodiversity and reducing its own carbon footprint.

  • Teaser Image
    ESG: three dimensions of sustainability

    Sustainability covers a broad spectrum of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors.

    Find out more

AXA for Progress Index: AXA's sustainability targets

AXA has developed a comprehensive sustainability strategy and its own system for measuring impacts and progress on an ongoing basis: the AXA for Progress Index. This is binding for all AXA units and assesses AXA's sustainability efforts as an insurer, an investor, and a model company generally. 

As an insurer:

Thanks to our risk expertise as well as our innovative products and services, we support our customers in lowering carbon dioxide emissions and adapting to life in a changing climate. 

As an investor: 

We reduce the carbon footprint of our investments and help to shape the transition to a low-carbon future as well as the adaptation to climate change. Through our investments, we support the protection and restoration of biodiversity.

As a company: 

In our own business, we take the lead and reduce our carbon dioxide emissions to a minimum, allowing us to achieve climate neutrality from 2021 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2025. We educate our employees on climate change and empower them to have a positive impact. 

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