For this month's Partner profile, Peter Huber, CEO of Zurich International, writes about the company's commitment to sustainable practices:
When I think back to this time last year, little did I know that the outbreak of COVID-19 would end up being the biggest thing I’ve ever lived through. News of the daily rise in case numbers, followed by lockdown and our borders closing, was enough to get all of us down, but we saw some incredibly inspiring things take place too.
Who could forget how communities joined together to raise vital funds for charities, and how we all got to know our neighbours better than ever before? During lockdown the air was cleaner, more families started walking or cycling together, and flora and fauna flourished in urban environments.
The dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions during lockdown showed what we can achieve for the environment. It proved beyond doubt that it is possible to make the dramatic global reductions necessary to address climate change. Within my role at Zurich International, and within the overarching Zurich Insurance Group, I’ve seen many examples of how we, as businesses, can continue to drive the sustainability initiative forward and I’m confident we can deliver a ‘green recovery’.
Let me provide a little background. As part of Zurich’s sustainability commitment, which also includes confidence in a digital society and work sustainability, we became the first insurer to sign up to the UN 1.5 Celsius business pledge to limit the global temperature rise. Most recently, Zurich was rated as the number one company in the insurance sector for 2020 in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), which evaluates the sustainability performance of thousands of companies.
Not only does this evidence demonstrate our drive to become one of the most responsible businesses in the world, and continue Zurich’s proud record of steering a safe course through every global crisis since it was founded in 1872, it also inspires projects at a local level.
As CEO of Zurich International, I’m very pleased to say, that in the Isle of Man, we have had a tremendous response from everyone in the business and our business partners on the Island. Here are just some of the highlights:
- Our Isle of Man office, Zurich House, has BREEAM sustainability certification.
- We have removed all single use plastics, reviewed processes where it’s included (e.g. new starter gift packs), and set up collection points for reusable plastic items that can be recycled.
- Printing has been reduced by 80%.
- We use renewable energy from a hydro-electric plant here on the Island, and have found lots of ways to reduce electricity consumption at our office (one example being to only use digital boards from 6am to 6pm).
- Thanks to a partnership with Cycle 360, our employees can commute via e-Bikes. When we were working remotely during lockdown, the bikes were loaned to the police to help officers inform people about social distancing.
- A high level of participation in volunteering projects which allow employees to take time out to provide practical help to charities such as Beach Buddies, and planting 240 trees with the Isle of Man Woodland Trust.
- Awareness campaigns. For example, our Climate Month campaign in September 2020 which highlighted the need for urgent action to tackle the climate emergency and saw employees volunteering to help with litter picks and tree planting.
- We also support a Group project called ‘Zurich Forest’ which invites every employee to become a shareholder by ‘planting’ their tree.
Being a UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man Partner is an important part of our local commitment. It’s an excellent project and one that we support by adhering to the six-point Biosphere Pledge.
We are also passionate advocates for the project and actively encourage more businesses to become partners (a recent Biosphere event hosted by the Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce event being one example).
Biosphere is one example of how we can all work together to drive the climate change campaign here on the Island, and it’s why everyone at Zurich International is proud to support it.