Advocacy

A sustainable society will require participation from all – individuals, communities, government and business.  As a key component of our vision to become a catalyst for a sustainable society, The Co-operators is committed to using our expertise, networks and influence to advocate for solutions. 

Our strategy offers a definitive path for our advocacy efforts. We are effective public advocates for issues that align with our business and we advocate for solutions for unmet needs and risks of Canadians and their communities. We’ve defined these advocacy goals:

  • To influence government(s) on climate change adaptation policy.
  • To be a catalyst for greater public education/awareness regarding wildfire prevention and greater government support towards mitigation initiatives.
  • To influence government(s) on safety objectives, with a focus specifically on fire sprinklers and access to cycling in Canadian communities.

Here are some examples of our advocacy at work. For more examples, see Extreme Weather and the Insurance Industry.  

Smart Prosperity – mapping Canada’s course to a stronger, cleaner economy

With the global economy changing, there’s a once in a generation opportunity for Canada to transition to a cleaner, stronger economy, and make Made-in-Canada a global brand for economic performance and clean innovation.

To achieve this goal, Smart Prosperity, a diverse group of Canadian leaders from all parts of society, has come together to deliver a roadmap of practical, achievable and ambitious solutions. In particular, there are five key actions the group has identified that Canada can focus on to accelerate our transition:

  • Accelerate clean innovation
  • Boost efficiency
  • Price pollution
  • Invest in advanced infrastructure and skills
  • Conserve and Value nature

The Co-operators is pleased to be an active participant in this initiative and we look forward to playing an ongoing role in the progress of Smart Prosperity.

To learn more about the opportunities Canada has, check out the Smart Prosperity Executive Report and the Smart Prosperity Full Report.

Ceres

We are a member of the Ceres Company Network. Ceres provides expert advice, access, and support for companies’ sustainability needs. The Ceres Company Network includes more than 80 companies from a range of sectors, including technology, food and beverage, oil and gas, and footwear and apparel, financial services, among many others. Approximately one third of Ceres members are Fortune 500 companies.

Ceres works with member companies to improve their sustainability performance and develop strategies to enhance their competitive advantage in this arena. Through Ceres membership, companies are better positioned to understand their critical environmental and social impacts, efficiently engage with key stakeholders, identify emerging risks and seize opportunities.

As part of membership, Ceres network companies commit to:

  • Public release of their sustainability mission or principles
  • In-depth engagement with stakeholders and shareholders
  • Public disclosure of environmental and social commitments and results
  • Continuous performance improvement

The Ceres Resilient Cities Project

First piloted in Boston in 2012, The Co-operators is one of three insurers who have signed onto a project to create ‘resilient cities’. Swiss Re, Aviva Canada, and The Co-operators are partnering with Ceres and other non-governmental organizations, municipal officials, developers, investors, and city planners to examine Toronto and San Diego in 2013. The project utilizes the lens of insurance and multi-stakeholder collaboration to determine what is required to create more resilient cities.

To view the documents published as a result of this process please click on the links below:

  1. Building Climate Resilience in Cities: Priorities for Collaborative Action”:  This document distils the key priorities that emerged for collaborative action between key urban resiliency stakeholders.  It is a concise summary designed to catalyze and expand cross-sector collaboration.
  2. A second, more detailed report “Building Resilient Cities: From Risk Assessment to Redevelopment” explains in much greater detail, a new strategic planning framework, called a “Resilience Zone” which was introduced and explored during the workshops.

United Nations Environment Programme

The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), a partnership between UNEP and the insurance industry, has led the development of a set of guidelines, The Principles for Sustainable Insurance, for embedding sustainability across the insurance industry. The process involved extensive global consultation including seven regional workshops worldwide. The Co-operators hosted the North American consultation workshop in June 2011.

In collaboration with other leading insurers and reinsurers, we were actively involved in the development of these principles and were proud to be a founding signatory in 2012, the first in North America. We are committed to advancing these principles throughout our business and serving as a strong advocate for the principles within the broader insurance industry.

Following the launch of the principles, our President and CEO sent a letter to our reinsurers encouraging them to join us in becoming signatories. To learn more about our progress in implementing these Principles please see our Annual Disclosure of Progress in our Integrated Annual Report appendices.

The Co-operators co-chairs the North American Task Force of the UNEP FI and sits on the Board for the Principles for Sustainable Insurance and the UNEP Global Steering Committee.

Council for Clean Capitalism

In 2012, we became a founding member of the Corporate Knights Council for Clean Capitalism — a group of influential CEOs who are dedicated to the promotion of “clean capitalism” in Canada. Clean capitalism is an economic system whose prices fully incorporate social, economic and ecological benefits and costs, and whose actors know the impacts of their marketplace actions. 

Inclusive wealth accounting has been a key priority of the Council since its inception. As such, the participants welcomed Statistics Canada’s efforts to begin integrating natural capital (including a portion of energy, mineral, timber and land resources) into its national macroeconomic accounts in December 2015. Another area of focus for the Council has been the promotion of green bonds as a tool for funding sustainable projects. This advocacy work contributed to the successful launch of Ontario’s first green bonds in 2014. We hope the enthusiasm generated by the Ontario green bond launch will spur other provinces to pursue similar initiatives. Our investment company, Addenda Capital, invested in these bonds for The Co-operators and other clients.

Carbon Pricing

As an insurance company, we see first-hand the impact that increasingly severe and volatile weather is having on Canadians and their communities. The cost of damage from extreme weather has doubled every seven years since the 1980s, impacting communities from coast to coast. Damage from individual events such as the 2013 flooding in Alberta and Toronto and the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire now reach into the billions of dollars.

Building the resilience of our communities requires both adaptation and mitigation action. Reducing the amount of carbon emissions is a necessary part of any effective mitigation strategy. Pricing carbon drives innovation and encourages both industry and consumers to be more efficient in their use of energy. In our view, putting a price on carbon is one tool that can help effectively reduce emissions through the use of market forces while preparing the economy for a cleaner, less carbon-intensive future.

It is worth noting that 85 per cent of Canadians already live in jurisdictions that have a price on greenhouse gas emission: these are in effect in B.C. and Quebec, and have been announced in Alberta and Ontario. The federal government recently announced that all provinces must do likewise by 2018 putting Canada on the path to meet its Paris climate commitments.

Revenue raised by governments through a carbon tax can be used to fund infrastructure improvements, public transportation systems, renewable energy projects and other measures that improve communities’ resilience and help us transition to a low-carbon economy.

We have been involved in climate change advocacy for many years, including voicing our support for Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan when it was announced and joining the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition in July 2016. As an organization, we have reduced our own carbon emissions and committed to becoming carbon neutral equivalent by 2020. We were the first Canadian insurance company to sign on to the Montreal Carbon Pledge, committing to publicly disclose our investments’ carbon footprints.

We will continue to support a broad range of adaptation and mitigation measures that will make our communities more resilient and help us transition to a low-carbon economy.

Wildfire Protection

Recent wildfire seasons across Canada have illustrated the vulnerability of communities to wildfire, as well as the potential for devastating loss. The personal, social, and economical costs associated with large wildfire occurrences highlight the degree to which citizens, their property, and our natural resources are at risk from wildfire.

For this reason we have been a founding partner since 2015 of Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, along with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR). Spearheaded by Partners in Protection under their FireSmart brand, approximately 20-30 communities are awarded funding each year for local mitigation efforts to protect homes and communities from wildfire.

We recently expanded our partnership with Partners in Protection to develop a guide to help Canadians protect their homes and loved ones from wildfire. The FireSmart Home Development Guide outlines specific measures to reduce the risk of damage from wildfire, and help homebuilders and property owners make informed decisions. We are continuously partnering with stakeholders to bring workshops, programming and resources to Canadians to help reduce the risk of spread, especially within heavily populated areas.

Fire Sprinkler Advocacy

The Co-operators is an advocate of home fire safety and a leading proponent of the mandatory installation of fire sprinklers in new residential home construction. Fire sprinklers help protect lives, reduce injuries and minimize the severity of property damage. Today’s home contents burn hotter and faster and are more toxic; this combination can lead to conditions becoming fatal within two minutes of a smoke detector sounding. This is why having a fire sprinkler in your home, and ensuring that it is operational at all times, is critical.

We work closely with many organizations, including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC)  to develop research, build awareness and mandate change. For example, we partnered with the HFSC and the Canadian Automatic Sprinkler Association  to recently launch a new comprehensive website that presents videos, fact sheets and key information about sprinkler systems installed in homes and their life-saving benefits. Visit HomeFireSprinklerCanada.ca for more information. A recent video we produced with the NFPA also sheds light on common misconceptions about having fire sprinklers at home.

Talk to your advisor today if your home has fire sprinklers; you may be eligible for a discount of 10 per cent.

This discount is part of our ongoing efforts to advocate for the mandatory installation of fire sprinklers in new residential homes.