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Sustainability, conservation and climate justice3rd December 2021
Over 180 students joined Hiscox Re & ILS and other sponsoring partners at Bermuda’s Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI)’s inaugural Youth Climate Summit to engage in the climate conversation. We spoke to Jessie Murdoch, Senior Catastrophe Modeller about the event and the passion on the island to make positive change.
This is the first time Hiscox has been involved in such an event in Bermuda. Can you tell us a little about what it was and why it was set up?
The Youth Climate Summit was set up by the BUEI to engage a broad range of students, aged between 13-22, in the climate conversation and Hiscox Re & ILS participated as an Inspire Partner. During the week they heard from global experts, youth activists, NGOs and partner companies such as Hiscox Re & ILS about local and global environmental issues centred on three main themes; sustainability, conservation and climate justice. At the end of the week, the students joined a project group focusing on either climate justice, conservation or sustainability and have been given the challenge to create local initiatives in Bermuda over a six to eight month period, with the support of Hiscox Re & ILS and other partnering companies. One of our colleagues, Anneke Wolf – Catastrophe Modelling Analyst, volunteered as a delegate guide and spent the whole day with the students in the climate justice group; “It was encouraging and inspiring to see so many students enthused and passionate about the environment, the future and their key role in how we will move forward sustainably”.
Why did Hiscox Re & ILS get involved as an Inspire Partner?
As soon as we met with the BUEI to find out more about the event and what it was aiming to achieve, we were eager to be involved! As an ‘Inspire Partner’, it gave us the opportunity to speak with the young talent of Bermuda about the three key climate themes which was invaluable. Early on in our conversations we learned how many young people feel discouraged, questioning how small everyday changes make a difference and so as a partner, our hope was to instil in students the desire to take responsibility for their environment, empower them to develop their critical thinking skills and increase their self-belief in their ability to succeed in making a difference. We wanted to show them, through the work we do as a Green Team within Hiscox, how small changes do indeed make an impact – for example, the simple act of switching to a water machine in our office has saved thousands of bottles from being used.
We also wanted to open students’ eyes to the world of (re)insurance as a career option and showcase the many climate-related career opportunities that exist in (re)insurance. Several students even said how impressed they were with how many colleagues in Hiscox Re & ILS came from STEM backgrounds!
Why is it important for companies such as Hiscox Re & ILS to get involved in such an event?
Companies like Hiscox Re & ILS and other corporate organisations play an important role in events such as the Youth Climate Summit as we provide a different perspective on the climate fight and the support we can bring. It helps bring awareness to young talent that there is a host of organisations working alongside NGOs and activists to bring about positive change. It’s also important to help give students the confidence to go out there and find solutions and being able to continue the dialogue with them through the project-based work allows us to do that.
How does the Youth Climate Summit align with Hiscox’s ESG strategy?
We are continually seeing more interest from the younger generation to help tackle climate issues and associate themselves with companies that are environmentally conscious and this is something we are passionate about at Hiscox. We have a strong ESG framework in place within Hiscox and at a Group level, we have made significant progress over recent years on ESG issues such as being operationally carbon neutral since 2014, setting new targets that align with net zero by 2050, investing in alternative energy and the list goes on! We also have green teams all around the world, working on local initiatives and being part of the Youth Climate Summit was just that. Our involvement in the summit was driven by our Bermuda Green Team – being a partner of the Youth Climate Summit was an honest integration of our local grassroots efforts with a community event which we were proud to be part of.
What was the main thing you took away from the event?
Attending the event gave us the opportunity to hear from climate experts on topics that influence our work as reinsurers as well as find out more about projects and NGOs that share the same values as we do and what struck me most was that we cannot work by ourselves on climate-related issues. We need to work collaboratively to make positive environmental change and support the NGOs that do such incredible work, and I would hope that the projects that come out of the summit will be a big push in the right direction. Being part of the event certainly made us, as a Green Team, more inspired and proud about what we are going on a daily basis – the areas that the students were interested in and concerned about, such as reducing waste, we are actively trying to tackle.
What other great things are the Hiscox Bermuda Green Team doing to help preserve the environment and community in which we live?
We have always been passionate about working with local NGOs and our biggest involvement this year has been with Keep Bermuda Beautiful (KBB), whose mission is to get everyone who lives and works on the island to take greater responsibility for reducing waste and eliminating litter through action and education, so we have done several coastal clean-ups with them which has been really rewarding. The Hiscox Bermuda Green Team are always aiming to bring new ideas to life and we have recently been thinking of ways to rally together all the companies in the development where our offices are and get collective support to use reusable lunch containers that will be accepted at local takeaways to reduce waste…watch this space!