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Sustainability Board update - November 2021

The November meeting of the sustainability board took place shortly after the end of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, an event which – especially for those based in the UK – underlined the extent to which matters of sustainability have become a central theme of political and economic discourse.

As sustainability touches every field in which actuaries work, the board maintains links with each other practice board, coordinating activities and materials: with each field increasing its activities in this area, the level of activity continues to increase, from educational materials to practical guides to conference ideas to consultation responses, an area which is proving especially active at the moment.

This broad interconnectedness was emphasised in the update from the communities group. This team is responsible for formal and informal engagement (through newsletters, social media, online and physical events and so on) across the profession, including partnerships with international bodies and regional societies. This work builds a two-way bridge between the sustainability board and all stakeholders.

In support of the growing demands, the board draws on a sustainability volunteer group. Planned areas of focus include international outreach and focused research: A long list of potential research areas is being narrowed down, with small working groups planned for each topic that makes the final cut. The launch of the early careers board (ECB) also draws closer, following a very strong and encouraging response to the call for potential members.

Each board meeting ends with a guest presenter, and we were happy to welcome IFoA President Louise Pryor on this occasion. This allowed an open discussion of the group’s reaction to COP26, which mixed some positive takeaways with a sense of disappointment that more progress was not made. Perhaps the feeling can be summarised by characterising the event as a symptom of a changing political environment regarding sustainability issues, rather than as a significant change of course in itself. There were, though, several key implications for actuaries that were noted: from the spotlight that has now been put onto coal, to the growing attention on biodiversity (proxied for example by the deforestation discussions), to the key role of insurance and investment and banking. There was a strong sense that the importance of physical risks needed greater recognition, too, with those too often playing second fiddle to questions of transition.

The Sustainability Board convenes again on 12 January 2022. Please reach out to the board should you wish to make any comment or suggestion.

Find out more about the IFoA Sustainability Practice Board activities

Find out more about Sustainability and Lifelong Learning