Insider perspective: FERMA Forum

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26 November, 2019


WBCSD insights



Eleanor Leach

From 17 – 20 November, the Federation of European Risk Managers Associations (FERMA) held its biennial Forum in Berlin. Over 1,700 risk and insurance professionals gathered together to increase their understanding and awareness of potential future risks.

The ambition of the Forum was to ‘aim for the future’ while discussing varying risks from new technologies as well as environmental, social and governance (ESG) challenges. However, participants clearly recognized in many cases, ESG-related risks are actually happening now.

The conference featured keynotes by Guy Verhofstadt, former Prime Minister of Belgium and current Member of European Parliament, leadership pitches from senior executives in the insurance industry, panel discussions and breakouts on the role of technology in advancing the profession and navigating the landscape of risk management.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) took the opportunity to help educate mainstream risk and insurance professionals about the need to integrate ESG considerations into existing business processes to ensure long-term resilience and competitiveness.

Prof. Dr. Rodney Irwin, WBCSD’s Managing Director for Redefining Value and Education, and Member of the Senior Management team, participated in a panel discussion about why risk management is vital to improving business resilience while also supporting a sustainable economy and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The challenge is that reporting often guides the risk management process. Rodney emphasized the need for companies to have an improved understanding of ESG-related risks and to take these into account as part of their strategic decision-making processes. 

On the last day of the event, WBCSD delivered a masterclass on aligning enterprise risk management (ERM) with ESG-related risks. We took conference delegates through a 90-minute workshop explaining sustainable development and the need for business resilience, with a deep-dive into the application guidance developed by WBCSD and COSO.

WBCSD was joined by Chris Bonnet, Head of ESG Business Services from Allianz Global and Corporate Specialty (AGCS), who shared how AGCS incorporates ESG-considerations into its decision-making. Chris shared insights and practical examples of the process of, and benefits from, incorporating ESG-related risks into ERM.

Chris said “The workshop provides practical tools that people can use to integrate ESG-related risks considerations into their ERM, and to better identify related opportunities.’

WBCSD also circulated its guidance on applying ERM to ESG-related risks, demonstrating a practical way in which risk managers and insurance professionals can broaden and strengthen their view of “risk”.

To be successful over the long-term, companies must consider potential ESG-related risks related to their business. That information should be included in executive decision-making and appropriately reported to the market, including the way in which the company is managing those risks.