A speech delivered by The Prince of Wales in the Underwriting Room, Lloyd's, as part of the Sustainable Marketing Initiative
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
It really is an enormous pleasure to be able to join you here, at Lloyd’s, in the heart of the City of London, to hear the bell rung twice – that mark of good news I’m told– and to celebrate a most important day for this market, and indeed for the global insurance industry, as it joins the global challenge to put Nature, People and the Planet at the heart of our entire economy. With the U.K. hosting COP26 later this year, I can only say how grateful I am that so many different insurance companies, some of the biggest in the world, have come together to help avert the accelerating disaster of climate change. After nearly eighteen months of my Sustainable Markets Initiative establishing transition Task Forces from different sectors of the economy, I am thrilled that we have been able to add the Insurance Task Force to those industries and businesses committed to changing the way we run our economy – by, above all, working in harmony with Nature’s own economy, which we tend to have forgotten over a very long time.
Standing here in this Underwriting Room, I am reminded of the extraordinary role that Lloyd’s, and the global insurance industry, have played over the course of history in supporting economies, communities and people all around the world to avoid crisis or, when it comes, to help us all recover from disaster.
Now you Ladies and Gentleman, have provided the confidence that industry needs to invest in the future. For the last three centuries, whenever society has faced disaster your finance and innovation have helped it recover. We have never needed you more than we need you today, that’s the point I really wanted to bring to this Underwriting Room. The coronavirus has demonstrated just how fundamentally interconnected human, economic and planetary health are, and the urgency with which we simply must all act to build a productive and sustainable future.
Over the past eighteen months, I have convened leaders from across industries and investment in almost every sector of the global economy to accelerate, if possible, the transition to a more sustainable future – one where we build the world’s capacity to be resilient. Having listened to these industry, finance and investment leaders, I would like, if I may, just to outline three ways the Insurance industry can help:
- First of all, we must ensure we have the right market signals so that industry, investment and governments know the direction of travel.
- Second, we must unlock the ‘investment-to-investables’ pipeline and increase the number of investable and genuinely sustainable projects, including those that support adaptation and resilience. This also requires that we shift investment away from carbon-intensive assets towards climate risk-resilient assets, including natural capital.
- Third, we must find ways to mobilize capital and investment for building climate risk-resilient infrastructure, particularly in the most climate-impacted regions of the world, and I know a lot of them, I can assure you after visiting them over and over again throughout the Commonwealth. Surely it is better to invest in and build up the right type of infrastructure that will reduce the risk of damage, destruction and costs in future climate events? In fact, in the long run, it saves us money by putting the right resources upfront.
So, Ladies and Gentleman, as an industry, you have a unique and deep understanding of the evolving impacts and risks of climate change, and can help us mitigate and manage extreme weather events. As I have tried to indicate to this industry over a considerable number of years, the scale of the challenge that insurers face caused by new types or scales of climate-related events cannot be underestimated. Winter storm “Uri” earlier this year is but one example. My sincere hope is that the industry will rise to these challenges and regard them as opportunities, and that it will avoid the temptation to restrict coverage but, rather, innovate new products.
If we are to realize the aspirations of moving to a low carbon world by the middle of this century, there will have to be a seismic shift of investment into new industries and sectors. This transition in favour of Nature, People and Planet can also represent the biggest opportunity for the insurance industry in recent times.
What I have always hoped is that the world will properly understand that what we do to the world around us, we do to ourselves. This is why we must put Nature at the centre of our thinking. Nature after all has to profit too. If it doesn't then, with every day that goes by, we curb and compromise the economic health and physical well-being of our children and our grandchildren.
Indeed, this is why, after many years of attempting to get the message across, I thought it essential, in this moment of critical acceleration – and with the generous and energetic assistance of John Neal of Lloyds – to convene an Insurance Task Force, whose membership represents some of the largest insurance and reinsurance companies around the world. Without you, we would not be seeing the investment in, and growth of, renewables, nor the large-scale advances in the private sector that are creating the necessary transition in carbon-intensive industries. But, with time running out, the urgency for action has, I fear, never been so great. With this in mind, I can only ask you to join us in our efforts.
So, Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for ringing the bell twice. If there is one insurance policy we need, it’s the one that guarantees the survival of the natural systems that sustain all life on Earth and us. We have to put Nature at the centre of our entire approach. With your active and committed help, I have no doubt that we will build a better future for the planet and the generations to come.”