Six of the nine largest insurers in the Netherlands have too limited a biodiversity policy, despite being aware that biodiversity loss is a financial risk, thus preventing effective action and impact. This is according to new research released today by the Dutch Fair Insurance Guide in collaboration with IUCN NL. Insurers can do more for biodiversity by supporting the transition to a more sustainable, plant-based food system with their investments.
The nine insurers surveyed, together invest at least $3.5 billion in fifteen companies that are monocultures i.e companies that aim to maintain and expand large-scale industrial food productions of one crop or animal. As a result, wild animals see their habitat and food disappear. This is evident from research by the Fair Insurance Guide conducted by The Hive, an agency specializing in the intersection of biodiversity and finance.
Between 1970 and 2016, there was already an average 68% decline in populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish, while an estimated 1 million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. Athora Netherlands and ASR are currently leading the way in the field of biodiversity, partly due to their policy of actively investing in companies and projects that focus on restoring nature. Achmea is also doing relatively well. CZ and NN Group clearly score less well, but considerably better than laggards Aegon, VGZ, Menzis and Allianz.
Investments in monocultures
Improvement is needed in the area of investing in companies that are part of the food system. Monocultures are the opposite of biodiversity and are a major contributor to deforestation, soil depletion, high pesticide use and plant and animal diseases. With the exception of Athora Netherlands, none of the insurers surveyed has a policy to stimulate a transition to a sustainable, more plant-based food system that benefits biodiversity.
Need for more action
According to the Fair Insurance Guide, to protect biodiversity, insurers need a clear vision and concrete goals for the transition to a sustainable and more plant-based food system.
Speaking on the issue Dirk-Jan Verdonk, Director of World Animal Protection and spokesperson for the Fair Finance Guide said 'The consequences of biodiversity loss are catastrophic for animals and humans. Only if companies in the food chain drastically change their approach in the coming years can further loss of biodiversity be prevented. The transition to more plant-based foods and less meat, dairy and fish is necessary for this. It is good to see that biodiversity is on the radar of Dutch insurers, but more action is really needed. With a clear vision of the future and measurable goals, we can help preserve the diversity of life forms and help restore nature.”
Maxime Eiselin, Senior expert on nature-based solutions at IUCN NL said “Insurers can play a key role in preserving and restoring biodiversity. With their investments, they can choose positive or negative impact. A risk lens for harmful investments is no longer sufficient: the added social role of insurers means increasingly they need to lead on this issue. This means that they must set goals to contribute to a nature-inclusive economy and actively adjust their investments to achieve these goals.”
As a result of this investigation, all insurers surveyed, except Aegon and Allianz, indicated that they would make improvements in this area.
Read more: Six out of nine insurers do too little for biodiversity | Fair Finance Guide