Sustainability has long been at the heart of the European Union project and is key in ensuring long-term competitiveness of the EU economy.
In June 2018, EIOPA agreed on a sustainable finance action plan in order to coordinate different projects with the aim of ensuring that insurers and pension funds operate in a sustainable manner by:
- Managing and mitigating Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) risks appropriately: this reflects the role of insurers in underwriting risk for the whole economy;
- Reflecting preferences of policyholders and pension scheme members for sustainable investments;
- Adopting a sustainable approach to their investments and other activities: this reflects the importance of insurers and pension funds as owners of a substantial portion of investments in the European economy.
EIOPA carries out its action plan via several projects in all areas of EIOPA's work and consults with stakeholders, including on the following:
- Participation in the European Commission's technical expert group to assist the Commission in developing an EU classification system – the so-called taxonomy – to determine whether an economic activity is environmentally sustainable; an EU Green Bond Standard; benchmarks for low-carbon investment strategies; and guidance to improve corporate disclosure of climate-related information.
- Supervisory opinion on the integration of sustainability considerations in fiduciary duty, risk management and public disclosure in IORPs.
- Technical advice to the European Commission on potential amendments to, or introduction of, delegated acts under Directive 2009/138/EC (Solvency II Directive) and Directive 2016/97 (Insurance Distribution Directive) with regard to the integration of sustainability risks and sustainability factors.
- Opinion on Solvency II and sustainability, with a particular focus on climate change mitigation, including the impact of prudential rules on (re)insurers' sustainable investments and underwriting practice.
- Integration of ESG considerations in scenario analysis and as an element of analysis in EIOPA's stress testing, starting with the Pension Funds Stress Test of 2019.
EIOPA also contributes to the cross-sectoral work regarding the impact of short-term pressure on financial corporates as well as the impact of IFRS standards on long term and sustainable investments.
In addition, EIOPA is aiming to improve its environmental performance and to lower its impact on the environment. The goal is to register EIOPA to the EMAS (Eco Management and Audit Scheme).
In 2013, the European Commission adopted an EU strategy on adaptation to climate change.
Following the adoption of the 2016 Paris agreement on climate change and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the European Commission adopted its Action Plan on Financing Sustainable Growth in March 2018, with the following three main objectives:
- reorient capital flows towards sustainable investment in order to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth;
- assess and manage relevant financial risks stemming from climate change, resource depletion, environmental degradation and social issues; and
- foster transparency and "long-termism" in financial and economic activity.