Insurers to help protect World Heritage Sites

Great Wall of China

In an industry first, a guide for insurers has been launched to protect United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites.

These are places considered to have special cultural or physical significance and include Ancient Kyoto in Japan, Lalibela in Ethiopia and the Great Wall of China in … China! ... among others.

Protecting our World Heritage, insuring a sustainable future provides practical guidance on how insurers can prevent or reduce the risk of insuring and investing in companies or projects whose activities could damage World Heritage Sites. These are largely related to the oil and gas, mining and large-scale hydropower sectors.

This guide will help insurers protect our world’s most prized assets

The guide is a joint effort between the UN Environment’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative (PSI) - which is the largest collaborative initiative between the UN and the insurance industry - WWF and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Butch Bacani leads the PSI and was responsible for launching the guide in São Paulo. Commenting on its importance, he said: “Protecting World Heritage Sites for present and future generations is not an option, but an obligation for all. Losing these treasures means losing sources of life, inspiration and human wellbeing, and losing the war against unsustainable development.”

The guide explains the risks faced by insurers and outlines recommendations that they can implement in their activities. These span the following key areas: accessing data and understanding best practice; raising awareness and supporting widespread action; developing and implementing a World Heritage Sites risk approach; protecting World Heritage Sites proactively; and engaging clients and investee companies. It also includes case studies and a sample risk assessment checklist.

“This guide will help insurers protect our world’s most prized assets in their risk management, insurance and investment activities, while curbing carbon emissions, building disaster resilience, and ensuring healthy ecosystems,” explained Bacani. “We call on insurers around the world to unite behind the science, show decisive leadership, and take ambitious action in insuring a sustainable future.”

This is a positive move for the insurance industry and with travel companies and insurers becoming increasingly active in efforts to protect our planet, we stand a chance of preserving the Earth’s beauty for future generations.