Zurich Insurance Group is to become the first large institutional investor to prioritise the ‘impact’ rather than monetary amount of its impact investment portfolio.

Zurich will focus on its targets of avoiding 5 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions annually – the amount emitted in a year by one million cars1 – and improving each year the lives of 5 million people – comparable to the population of Ireland. As of the end of September, the portfolio helped avoid 2.9 million tons of CO2 equivalent emissions and improved the lives of 4 million people.

The commitment comes after the Group exceeded the USD 5 billion target for its impact investment portfolio set three years ago.

”Today, we are once again leading the industry by shifting away from monetary targets to actual impact achieved. The objective of our impact investment strategy has always been about the positive outcomes that we can achieve through our investment decisions. With this in mind, it makes sense for us to commit to invest as much as needed to fulfil our environmental and social goals, which remain unchanged.” Urban Angehrn Group Chief Investment Officer and member of Zurich’s Executive Committee

Amit Bouri, Co-Founder and CEO of The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN): “The GIIN applauds Zurich Insurance Group for continuing to raise the bar on its impact investing, anchoring around impact targets while allocating capital in alignment with both its fiduciary duty and intention to generate a measurable, positive impact for people and planet. To achieve our biggest global goals, like the UN Sustainable Development Goals and targets set by the Paris Agreement, we will need the commitment of institutional investors around the world. Investors have a critical role to play in transforming our future, and our hope is that Zurich inspires other investors to join the effort to drive measurable, positive impact, so we can make progress toward the more sustainable and inclusive world we all seek.”

Diane Damskey, Head of Secretariat, Operating Principles for Impact Management, said: “Congratulations to Zurich Insurance Group on their continued leadership among impact investors and taking the step to manage their impact investment portfolio solely based upon impact targets. As one of the founding Signatories to the Operating Principles for Impact Management, Zurich’s team has contributed to this growing and collaborative group of asset owners and asset managers that are shaping the future of impact investing.”

Zurich’s impact investment portfolio of USD 5.4 billion includes green bonds, social and sustainability bonds, private equity funds active in areas such as financial inclusion and clean technology, as well as impact infrastructure loans for projects such as wind or solar farms. Zurich will continue building a portfolio to deliver on its targets, going beyond the USD 5 billion investments originally targeted.

Over recent years, Zurich has developed a methodology to measure and aggregate impact across various asset classes. Measuring impact for three years in a row has led to multiple lessons in how to measure and manage impact, specifically in how to interpret the impact intensities of various types of investments.

This knowledge now allows the insurer to prioritise the targeted impact, allowing committed funds to follow. Throughout this time Zurich has openly shared its accumulated knowledge and expertise with other asset managers to support the development of common measurement standards and pledges to continue to share future learnings.