02 April 2019
The judges of Environmental Finance's bond awards saluted Zurich Insurance Group's pioneering work on green, social and sustainability bonds.
For Zurich, green bonds are part of its impact investment strategy. As of December 2018, Zurich had invested $2.7 billion in green bonds, and a further $425 million in social and sustainability bonds.
Most recently, Zurich has developed a "first-of-its-kind" impact measurement framework, with the help of BlackRock, that allows it to aggregate two key environmental and social metrics across different asset classes.
In a pilot, the framework measured the majority of its $3.8 billion impact investment portfolio, which includes green, social and sustainability bonds, private equity funds focused on areas including financial inclusion and clean technology, private debt and real estate in Switzerland.
It found that, as of December 2018, the portfolio helped to avoid 3.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions and improved the lives of 2.4 million people, annually.
This is more than half way towards meeting its impact investment target it introduced in 2017 to achieve total impact investments of $5 billion, avoiding 5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions while improving the lives of 5 million people each year.
Zurich said it would make the framework available for others to use and called for more work to be done in setting standards for the structure of impact reports as well as for the metrics used.
Johanna Köb, head of responsible investment at Zurich, commented: "We remain committed to scaling this market with innovation and integrity, and have spent a lot of time as a very active investor in this space, also formally as part of the Green Bond Principles (GBP) executive committee and steering committee.
"Winning this award now is such a beautiful appreciation from our peers for the work we have done over the past six years. And it will certainly encourage us to keep going!"
One award judge said: "Zurich has been a pioneer in green bond investment. Johanna Köb has worked hard on the GBP executive committee."