African Insurance and UN Leaders Meet in Lagos to Drive Collaborative Action For Sustainable Development

Leading African insurers and reinsurers are meeting in Lagos this week with the UN to drive economic, social and environmental sustainability.

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Under the auspices of the United Nations Environment's Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) — the largest collaborative initiative between the UN and the insurance industry — international experts are meeting leading Nigerian insurance practitioners to focus on three key themes:
  • Closing the Risk Protection Gap
  • Resilient Cities
  • Sustainable Food Systems and Agriculture

The purpose of what has now become an annual PSI African Market Event is to bring together leading practitioners and thinkers, the UN and key stakeholders within the African insurance "ecosystem'.

The aim is to share experiences and ideas to support the growth, profitability, responsibility, resilience and sustainability of the African insurance industry, and to drive sustainable development on the continent.

"As risk managers, insurers and investors, the insurance industry has an important role to play in making communities and economies inclusive, resilient and sustainable," says Dr Femi Oyetunji, Group Managing Director & CEO of Continental Re plc, the first African reinsurer to sign the UN's PSI principles.

"The recent devastation wrought by Cyclone Idai, and now Cyclone Kenneth, is yet another wake-up call for the urgent need for action and collaboration to better manage risk and support sustainable development."

The inaugural PSI African Market Event

The inaugural PSI African Market Event took place in Johannesburg in April 2018 and was hosted by Santam Insurance, the first African insurer to sign the UN's PSI principles.

"The world is facing an increasing number of sustainability challenges—from climate change, environmental degradation, and pollution; to social inequality, financial exclusion and major health risks. This is why world leaders have committed to delivering prosperity for all on a healthy planet through global goals such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change," says Butch Bacani, who leads the PSI Initiative at UN Environment.

"We are delighted that the African insurance industry is working together and demonstrating the leadership and ambition needed to drive sustainable development."

The 2nd PSI African Market Event, hosted by Continental Re plc at the Wheatbaker Hotel in Lagos, will consider key environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues—also known as sustainability issues—for the Nigerian insurance industry, as well as the wider African insurance industry.

It will look at how these key sustainability risks and opportunities are being addressed across the following insurance industry activities:

  • Risk management (risk assessment, risk analytics and modelling, risk reduction)
  • Insurance (across lines of non-life and life & health insurance)
  • Investment (across asset classes)
  • Insurance regulation and supervision

"Sustainability issues such as climate change and environmental degradation are leading to diverse, interconnected and complex risks, but also present new opportunities for collaborative action to mitigate risk and improve physical and financial resilience," says John Melville, Chief Underwriting Officer of Santam Insurance.

"This is why it's crucial that African insurance leaders, the UN, and key stakeholders are gathering in Lagos to find solutions to tackling the continent's most pressing sustainability challenges."

"Whether it's the cyclones in Mozambique, the droughts and wildfires in South Africa, Ebola and malaria across the continent, or the floods in Lagos, there is no question that we must urgently meet the sustainability challenge," says Dr Oyetunji.

"We are proud to host the 2nd PSI African Market Event in Lagos and look forward to working with our peers in the African insurance industry and the UN to move from awareness to action, and deliver positive impact."

Related: Why All Businesses Can Benefit from a Guiding Social or Environmental Purpose