Build­ing Bridges 2023: Sus­tain­abil­i­ty in un­der­writ­ing


The fourth ‘Building Bridges Conference’ was held in Geneva and focused on the topic of ‘Sustainable Finance’. SVV partnered with the Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) to host a podium discussion on sustainability in underwriting. The lively discussion highlighted the great interest in the subject as well as the importance of cooperation between the industry and stakeholders to improve the resilience of society.

From 2 to 5 October, Geneva played host to the international ‘Building Bridges’ conference. The goal of the conference was to advance the cause of sustainable finance – i.e. directing capital flows to sustainable investments – both in Switzerland and around the world. The event was a notably international and diverse gathering: more than 2,500 participants from around the world came together in the metropolis on Lake Geneva to highlight the latest developments in the field of sustainable finance, discuss obstacles, opportunities and risks, and seek solutions for the future.  

The insurance industry accounts for almost 50 per cent of the Swiss financial sector. With some CHF 540 billion of capital assets under management, the industry, like the banking sector, is keenly interested in sustainable investments. For insurers, sustainable finance encompasses risk management and underwriting in addition to asset management.


Kristine Schulze, Sustainability Officer SIA

Commitment to Sustainability

For the first time, SVV joined forces with Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) to deepen its engagement at ‘Building Bridges’ and host a panel discussion on the role of the insurance industry, and sustainable underwriting in particular. At the event, SVV Sustainability Officer Kristine Schulze, emphasised that the insurance industry is committed to supporting customers in the transition to a more sustainable economy and society. What this means is that the insurance sector has to use the tools at its disposal to achieve sustainable progress. In underwriting, the focus of this effort is on identifying ESG (environmental, social and governance) risks, formulating guidelines and actively engaging in dialogue with the insured.

Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI

The industry receives valuable support in integrating sustainability in underwriting from the Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI), which provides important guidance with its guides. In her keynote speech, Diana Diaz, PSI Programme Manager with the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), offered attendees an introduction to the guides for managing ESG risks in the non-life as well as the life and health insurance sectors.

Building Bridges Podium 2023

Panel Discussion «The Role of Insuramce in Promoting Sustainability»

Prevention, adaptation and collaboration

A lively panel discussion with numerous questions from the audience demonstrated the salience of sustainability in underwriting as well as the strong interest in the subject. The discussion centred around the current state of integration of sustainability in underwriting, the existing challenges and the importance of ecosystems.

Insurers have made varying degrees of progress with regard to their awareness and integration of sustainability risks in underwriting. The differences are due to the fact that insurers face different ESG risks and different levels of exposure to ESG risks depending on their business segments and geographic locations. There is accordingly no one-size-fits-all solution for the industry.

The discussion has also led to the recognition that the solution can’t be simply to shift all of the risks to the insurers. The primary focus must be on prevention and adaptation to climate change in order to improve the resilience of society as a whole.

Ultimately, global challenges call for global solutions. This further highlights the necessity of working together within the industry as well as with stakeholders as the central factor in transforming the economy and society.

Watch the video for some impressions from ‘Building Bridges’.