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Latest corporate responsibility news and highlights from Sampo Group.
If, Sampo plc’s largest subsidiary, has included sustainability principles in its corporate customer selection and risk assessment from 1 June 2021.
The new underwriting standards are based on the UN Global Compact, an international initiative focusing on 10 principles for sustainable business operations. The principles cover the areas of human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption.
Integrating the UN Global Compact principles in insurance underwriting is one of the measures If is taking to increase sustainability in its business practices. Sustainability requirements have previously been applied to suppliers through the Supplier Code of Conduct and to If’s investment activities through norms-based research. Now If also expects its corporate clients to comply with the same principles.
If has prepared for the implementation of the new standards by establishing assessment teams specialized in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and educating employees on the principles of the UN Global Compact, norms-based research, and the new ESG framework.
At If, the principles of the Global Compact have been directly integrated into the underwriting standards and into the existing Customer Due Diligence process for corporate clients. In practice this means that new and existing customers undergo ESG screening based on an internal model. If uses research from an external partner specialized in monitoring ESG compliance to assess how corporate clients respect the UN Global Compact in their operations. The internal ESG assessment teams make decisions about client relationships based on the external partner’s research, as well as other relevant material.
If a corporate client is found to be in breach of the Global Compact principles, If will notify the company and ask them to improve their operations. However, if the company is not willing or able to change its practices, the client relationship can be terminated.
To date, a small number of corporate clients have been notified that their ESG grading is not satisfactory. So far, no client relationships have been terminated due to breaches against the UN Global Compact principles.
The real estate company Mandatum Life Vuokratontit II Oy, which is managed by Sampo plc’s Real Estate Investment unit, owns an unbuilt plot in the middle of the new neighborhood Suurpelto in Espoo, Finland. The active community association Suurpelto-seura wanted to make the surroundings more appealing and asked the real estate company to participate. Initially, the fence was set up for protection and the fence art project started to take shape in 2020 when Suurpelto-seura and representatives from Espoo School of Arts and the City of Espoo started developing the idea and the theme.
In Sampo Group’s real estate investments, improving the urban environment and strengthening the local community are perceived valuable. In addition to building the fence, Mandatum Life Vuokratontit II Oy contributed to the costs of the supplies.
Painting the fence was a community project, which engaged people of different ages and nationalities in the neighborhood. Especially local kindergartens and schools were invited to participate, and adults volunteered through a series of community workshops. The theme for the project was a clean Baltic Sea. One part of the fence is a gallery of images related to the Baltic Sea, the Lukupuro brook, animals and seafaring created by kindergarteners and school children. In their art works the children depicted the impacts of environmental problems on marine life. The part of the fence facing the square was designed by students from Espoo School of Arts. Over 100 children and 40 adults took part in the project.
The project had to be put on hold a few times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the fence art project was finally completed in 2021 and celebrated by the community on World Oceans Day on 8 June 2021. The fence is now brightening the main thoroughfare in Suurpelto and brings joy to inhabitants and passers-by.
Mandatum Life Vuokratontit II Oy is Mandatum’s wholly owned subsidiary. Sampo plc’s Real Estate Investment unit is responsible for If, Mandatum, and Sampo plc’s real estate investments. Most of these investments are in Mandatum’s portfolio. In addition to the wholly owned subsidiaries’ real estate investments, Sampo plc’s Real Estate Investment unit is responsible for Mandatum Life Vuokratontit I Ky, SaKa Hallikiinteistöt Ky, and Kaleva Mutual Insurance Company’s real estate investments.
Climate change impacts regions differently, but the consequences are global. Businesses need to adapt to changing requirements and report on their progress. In real estate, focus areas for sustainability are energy efficiency, curbing climate change, water efficiency, recycling, reducing the amount of waste, as well as providing sustainable, healthy, and safe properties for tenants.
Sampo plc’s real estate investment unit is responsible for If, Mandatum, and Sampo plc’s real estate investments. Most of these investments are in Mandatum’s portfolio. In addition to the wholly owned subsidiaries’ real estate investments, Sampo plc’s real estate investment unit is responsible for Mandatum Life Vuokratontit I Ky, SaKa Hallikiinteistöt Ky, and Kaleva Mutual Insurance Company’s real estate investments.
Sampo plc conducted a thorough assessment of the impacts of climate change on Mandatum and SaKa Hallikiinteistöt Ky’s real estate investments together with an external service provider. Climate risk is already incorporated into real estate investment decisions and property management, but there was a need for a more systematic approach to assessing climate change related risks and improve reporting on precautionary measures to stakeholders.
The aim of the assessment was to look at different climate change scenarios and to identify short, medium and long-term impacts on real estate investments. The identified risks and opportunities were mirrored against the real estate investment portfolio and their significance to business was assessed both from the perspective of risk management and the estimated financial impact of the risk.
The assessment was based on the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures’ (TCFD) recommendations and technical supplement “The Use of Scenario Analysis in Disclosure of Climate-Related Risks and Opportunities”. The scenarios used were the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) RCP 2.6 and RCP 8.5 pathways, and the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) WEO, SDS, and CPS scenarios. In addition, the CRREM tool was used.
The main acute physical risks identified were extreme weather events such as floods caused by heavy rain, changing winter temperatures leading to heavy snowfall and icy roads, as well as storm winds and heatwaves. Although extreme weather events are likely to increase, the risk on the real estate investment portfolio is expected to be small. In the long-term, the risks need to be monitored and integrated into property management, for example by paying attention to landscaping and storm water drainage in urban areas and ensuring that building structures are wind resistant. Heatwaves increase the need for cooling, which has an impact on operational costs. Energy efficiency must be considered when selecting cooling equipment and solutions.
Chronic physical risks include rising sea levels, rising average temperatures, changes in rainfall, and severe droughts. Precipitation is expected to increase in all scenarios, which causes concern for soil structure and soil-bearing capacity and increase the risk of humidity exposure to facades. Both precipitation and drought may carry a small to medium risk for properties and can have a financial impact in the form of increased maintenance and repair costs and investments in water saving solutions.
Transition risks occur in the shift to a greener economy. Changes in the regulatory environment pose a medium to large risk and must be monitored closely. Increasing regulation on e.g. recycling, energy efficiency, low carbon, and reporting will impact real estate investments already in the short term. Measures such as strong energy efficiency management, investments in renewable purchased energy, own renewable energy production, energy efficient equipment, and environmentally friendly materials, as well as increasing the number of charging stations for electric vehicles contribute to managing regulatory risk.
Other major transition risks to consider include changes in tenants’ behavior. Digitalization is likely to increase remote working, which will affect the length of leases and thus rental income. This is also an opportunity to re-think office space; create convertible spaces and digital solutions. People’s attitudes towards consumption and the use of natural resources is also changing, which means additional demands on landlords. Sampo plc’s real estate investment unit measures tenant satisfaction every two years and responds to feedback from tenants. Developing the property in cooperation with tenants and organizing charity events creates a sense of community. Green Leases are used to agree on sustainable practices for the property.
It is important to integrate climate-related risks in risk management processes and especially monitor the changing regulatory landscape. Well-managed business operations and continuous monitoring of the business environment help anticipate and adapt to changes.
- This was the first climate-risk assessment performed on real estate investments managed by Sampo plc. We gained valuable insights and plan to conduct assessments regularly in the future says Kim Westberg, Head of Real Estate Investments.
The annual carbon footprint of Mandatum’s investments totalled 994,636 (1,357,008) CO2e tonnes, showing a significant drop compared to the previous year (–27%) regardless of the increase in the assets under management.
“The carbon footprint of our equity investments, measured by financed emissions*, was as much as 51 per cent below the level of market indices. We are very pleased to see that our long-term efforts are bearing fruit. Measuring the carbon footprint is essential for us to be able to fully monitor and understand the risks affecting our investments. We look into the carbon footprint of our investments not only in absolute terms but also with respect to the market in general, which is a concrete way to benchmark our progress,” says Senior Portfolio Manager Topias Kukkasniemi from Mandatum Asset Management.
Taking climate change into account and efficiently managing climate risk is one of the focal points of Mandatum’s investment activities.
“Climate change is shaping the investment markets. If climate risk is increasingly priced in by the markets going forward, it will have an impact on the value of investments. Therefore, preparing for the impacts of climate change is a way for investors to practice sensible risk management and seek a better return–risk ratio,” Kukkasniemi says.
The reduction in the financed emissions can largely be explained by active portfolio management measures. In full-mandate customer portfolios, for example, the proportion of fossil energy was reduced during the year. In practice, every portfolio manager sees to the efficient management of climate risk in the investment baskets or funds within their area of responsibility.
As a member of the Portfolio Decarbonization Coalition investor network, Mandatum’s objective is to minimise investments’ emissions by actively managing the climate risks of investment activities and offering opportunities to invest in companies with a smaller carbon footprint. Through the UN’s Montréal Pledge, Mandatum annually publishes the results of its investment emissions measurement.
*) Financed emissions reflect the investment portfolio’s emissions in relation to the invested capital. In equity investments, emissions are proportioned to the company’s market value, and in fixed income investments, to the amount of debt. The emissions are allocated to the investment portfolio in proportion to the holdings. The emissions include scope 1 and scope 2 emissions, i.e. the emissions from the company’s operations and purchased energy.
**) Average carbon intensity is an alternative way of measuring an investment portfolio’s carbon risk. With carbon intensity, emissions are proportioned to the company’s net sales. The reported figure is a weighted average of the investments’ carbon intensity. The emissions include scope 1 and scope 2 emissions, i.e. the emissions from the company’s operations and purchased energy.
The Sampo Group companies work to reduce the environmental impact of their own operations. Each Group company has its own environmental principles and targets related, for example, to reducing energy consumption, increasing recycling, and working with suppliers and other stakeholders to contribute to the sustainable development of society.
Group-level GHG emissions have been calculated and disclosed since 2019. The emissions are reported in accordance with the Green House Gas Protocol. Scope 1 includes direct emissions from operations that are owned or controlled by the reporting company such as fuel in company-owned or leased vehicles, Scope 2 includes indirect GHG emissions from the generation of purchased or acquired electricity, heating, or cooling consumed by the reporting company, and Scope 3 includes indirect emissions that occur in the company’s value chain.
In 2020, Sampo Group’s total GHG emissions from own operations were 11,326.8 tCO2e, which equals 1.26 tCO2e per employee. Scope 1 emissions were 13.4 per cent, scope 2 emissions were 25.5 per cent, and scope 3 emissions were 61.1 per cent of the total. Most of the emissions originate from business travel, electricity, and IT and cloud services, with the shares being 31.4 per cent, 18.8 per cent, and 14.5 per cent, respectively. The carbon footprint of investments is calculated separately, more information can be found here.
GHG emissions decreased by 31 per cent in 2020, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest impact was on Scope 3 emissions, as business travel was reduced to a bare minimum.
If, Mandatum Life, and Sampo plc offset the GHG emissions arising from the companies’ own operations by supporting Gold Standard VER projects that enable global collaboration in funding and implementation of GHG emission reduction projects in developing countries.
In 2020, the companies offset the GHG emissions arising from their own operations through a project focusing on access to safe water in Cambodia. The project sells locally made ceramic water purifiers, providing clean water to communities in Cambodia. With a purifier at home, families no longer need to boil their water to make it safe to drink. This reduces indoor air pollution from wood burning, decreasing household fuel costs and reducing pressure on Cambodia’s vulnerable forests. The project supports UN Sustainable Development Goals 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 13, and 15.
More information is available in the corporate responsibility reports at www.sampo.com/year2020.
Sampo Group’s efforts to promote sustainable consumption and environmental actions in its operations contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals 12 and 13. Read more about Sampo Group’s impact on the SDGs here.