Sustainability is part of our DNA
Q: Why is sustainability an important topic for an insurer such as AG?
“The question is no longer whether a company chooses a sustainable strategy, but how it can make an optimal contribution to a more sustainable world. At AG, we firmly believe that insurances – and especially our investments – are a powerful lever to build a more sustainable, just and equitable world. Because the investments we make, serve as a guarantee of our commitments towards our customers.
In fact, sustainability is part of our DNA. As our Chief Investment Officer Wim Vermeir would say: “It is natural for us to take into account the social and environmental risks of our investments, because these are often risks that only occur in the long term. Just think of climate change or the growing inequality in the world. Recognizing, acknowledging and evaluating these risks in all our investment decisions is therefore both a social duty and a form of efficient risk management, and proof of good governance.”
More concretely, our approach to sustainable and responsible investing is based on three principles:
- the exclusion of controversial activities (e.g., weapons, tobacco and fossil fuels);
- the incorporation of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in all of our investment decision processes;
- an active ownership in companies we invest in through our engagement and voting policies.“
Walk the talk
Q: Do consumers care about their insurers’ actions around sustainability?
“More and more customers, private individuals as well as companies and government institutions, attach importance to the way insurers invest their savings and ask questions about it. This explains, among other things, the success of labels such as Towards Sustainability. This initiative, founded in 2019 by the Belgian financial sector, defines a number of minimum requirements that sustainable financial products must meet. After an audit by an independent external institution, products that meet the standard will receive the sustainability label. Yet, consumers hear a lot of vocabulary circulating on the topic of sustainability: labels, certificates, EU taxonomy, UNPRI, etc. Our role is not only to invest in sustainable goals, but also to guide our clients through what we can call ‘the jungle of sustainability’.
To be relevant for consumers, it’s also important that a brand’s sustainability positioning goes hand in hand with its general positioning, and is backed up by concrete actions. Otherwise, you are greenwashing, or communicating without installing real change. That’s not right. You have to walk the talk.”
Focusing on 10 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Q: Can you share some concrete AG Insurance initiatives around sustainability?
“Since 2018, we have aligned our business strategy with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and we selected 10 of the 17 objectives to act upon.