Melissa Leitner provides an update on the latest Sustainability Board activities.
Engagement is the word I'd choose to pull a common thread through the key agenda items of the latest meeting of the IFoA Sustainability Board on 16 March 2021.
Engagement within the Board(s)
After a fresh round of recruitment at the end of 2020, Board Chair Nick Spencer welcomed our new members, further strengthening the Board’s diversity and what we can aim to achieve in terms of both quantity and quality going forward. We also welcomed Gilli Engel, the Board's newly assigned IFoA Council representative, and said farewell to immediate past-Chair, Simon Jones, who is stepping down after an impressive tenure since 2013. Simon, a sincere thank you for your generous service, influence and leadership in making sustainability an imperative within the actuarial profession.
The Sustainability Board has been working closely with all other Practice Boards to develop bespoke engagement plans arising from the recommendations of the Climate-Related Risk Taskforce (CRRT). The engagement plans are now at an advanced stage of drafting for all practice areas, and moving into execution mode.
Engagement within the profession
The weekly Sustainable Finance Newsletter continues to grow in subscriptions, click-throughs and LinkedIn followers, and more readers are always welcome. The same applies for the Sustainability Volunteer Group, which has also attracted strong support from the profession's international members. The SDG podcast series reached its fifth episode exploring the Universal Ownership concept, with more inspiring speakers scheduled in future. We have also started event planning around COP26 (the United Nations climate conference) which occurs later this year.
The Board reflected on the need to appropriately support actuaries, however deep their appreciation of sustainability risks may be. Certain Board deliverables should guide those who already recognise ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) risk, and want to know what to do about it. Other deliverables should support those who are newly developing an understanding of the intersections between sustainability, their work and professional interests. A good starting point is the Climate Change Curated Library.
Engagement outside of the profession
Our guest speaker was Andrew Adams of the CCLA Modern Slavery Project. Andrew shared a sobering reality check on the extent of forced labour still persisting in supply chains today, and affecting an estimated 25 million people. "Find it, fix it, prevent it" is the call to action, and for the financial industry especially, the Liechtenstein Initiative sets out a blueprint of five goals for mobilising finance against slavery and trafficking.
Lastly an important contribution from the Policy & Regulation portfolio in recent weeks was, prior to submission, reviewing the IFoA's response to HM Treasury, which requested feedback on the UK Financial Services Future Regulatory Framework Review. The IFoA’s Leadership Team submitted a statement that places society and the public interest at the forefront, and calls for discourse and action towards capitalism that is more responsible.
The next Sustainability Board meeting will take place on 12 May 2021. We welcome actuaries across all practice areas to continue engaging and learning. Please reach out to the Board should you wish to make any comment or suggestion.