"These events are further evidence that - as the insurance industry has constantly highlighted - society urgently needs to better manage environmental risks," said Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.
Mr. Toepfer was speaking at a meeting of members of the UNEP Insurance Industry Initiative, a voluntary initiative of the insurance industry and UNEP to help the industry integrate environmental considerations within their internal and external business operations. The UNEP Insurance Industry Initiative has expanded to 86 international companies operating in more than 50 countries.
The chair of the Initiative's Steering Committee, Mr. Walter Jakobi, said that the insurance industry can use its combined skills and expertise through the Initiative to help policy makers develop and implement policy frameworks to minimize environmental risks. He stressed that "The first and foremost action in this process is that governments ratify the Kyoto Protocol."
Mr. Toepfer called on insurance companies to join the Initiative and reinforced the need for the insurance industry to redouble its environmental efforts. "It is now time for aware and active insurers, acting as responsible global citizens, to move from simply assessing the environmental risks to implementing solutions to minimize or avoid those risks," he said.
Background on the Initiative
The UNEP Insurance Industry Initiative forms part of the UNEP Financial Services Initiatives facilitated by UNEP's Economics and Trade Unit. In 1998 the Unit was attached to the newly created Division of Technology, Industry and Economics which is headquartered in Paris, France. Ms Jacqueline Aloisi de Larderel is Director of the Division.
The Initiative is led by a Steering Committee with representatives from CGU plc.(United Kingdom), Gerling-Group (Germany), NPI (United Kingdom), Storebrand (Norway), Sumitomo Marine & Fire Insurance Co.(Japan), and Swiss Reinsurance Company (Switzerland). Recent work undertaken includes policy on climate change and CO2 indicator accounting methods.
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UNEP News Release NR2000/2