UN, WWF and world’s insurers launch insurance industry guide to protect UNESCO World Heritage Sites


The first guide for the insurance industry to protect our world’s priceless and irreplaceable assets was launched yesterday at a major event by UN Environment’s Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) in São Paulo, Brazil, convening leading insurers, investors and banks.

The pioneering guide, Protecting our World Heritage, insuring a sustainable future, builds on last year’s launch of the first insurance industry statement of commitment to protect World Heritage Sites. The statement is supported by leading insurers—writing about USD 170 billion in gross premiums and managing USD 2.7 trillion in assets—as well as by insurance associations and key stakeholders around the world.

To develop the guide, UN Environment’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative (PSI)—the largest collaboration between the UN and the insurance industry—worked with its member insurers, WWF and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Centre,  and was supported by ECOFACT, a sustainability service provider.

The main aim is to provide practical guidance to insurers on how to prevent or reduce the risk of insuring and investing in companies or projects whose activities could damage World Heritage Sites, particularly in relation to sectors such as oil and gas, mining, and large-scale hydropower. Other relevant sectors include logging, fishing, agriculture, plantations, and large-scale infrastructure such as pipelines, roads and mega-ports.

World Heritage Sites are recognised for their unparalleled beauty, global significance and/or biological diversity and the important economic, social and environmental benefits they provide. Natural World Heritage Sites, in particular, provide vital resources such as food and water, and contribute significantly to economies through jobs, tourism and recreation. They also deliver critical environmental services such as stabilising soils, preventing floods and capturing carbon, all of which increase our resilience to the most harmful impacts of a warming climate. However, almost half of all natural World Heritage Sites are threatened by industrial activities and large infrastructure developments, which may cause irreversible damage

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