Insurer a.s.r is aiming to boost the sustainability of its services, investment portfolio and operational management. Ultimately a.s.r aims to be climate neutral. Until then it’s offsetting the inevitable carbon emissions via Trees for All’s sustainable forestry projects.
Insurer a.s.r has been a Trees for All partner for many years now. As a leader in sustainability the company serves as an example to others. Adri Meijdam, corporate social responsibility specialist with the company, explains: ‘We offer our customers sustainable insurance products and invest in companies making a sustainable contribution to society. As an insurer our impact is greatest through our investment policy.’ Meijdam grew up in a small village on a river and saw up close how our habitat is becoming increasingly degraded. ‘First, we were told not to eat any fish from the river, and later we were strongly advised not to swim in it. That experience taught me from a young age how important it is to look after nature.’ As such Meijdam is a passionate and committed proponent of a.s.r’s corporate social responsibility policy.
In 2018 a.s.r’s management board decided to reduce the company’s gas consumption at its Utrecht offices to nil. Today, a year later, a.s.r is entirely gas-free: 84.000 square metres is carbon neutral. ‘It’s great that we’ve succeeded,’ says Meijdam. ‘But we’ve still got a way to go.’ The insurer is making every effort to minimize its footprint. ‘Mobility accounts for ninety percent of our emissions. We actively encourage our staff to look for alternatives, and provide all kinds of arrangements and plans to encourage them, such as a mobility budget, low-energy and electric lease cars, a bicycle pan and parking perks for car poolers. The accessibility of eastern Utrecht as a whole is an issue we’re closely involved in. As far as we’re concerned, sustainability is a constant theme. You can always do more.’
‘Sustainability is a constant theme. You can always do more.’
The environmentally friendly insurer wants to make a tangible contribution to a green and healthy planet. Forest and nature play a key role, with a.s.r managing around 40,000 hectares of land in the Netherlands. The organisation’s carbon emissions are offset by Trees for All forestry projects. That’s a conscious choice, says Meijdam. ‘Through Trees for All we contribute actively to various sustainable development goals such as poverty reduction, combatting climate change and the restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity. We also regard it as very important that the local population is closely involved in the projects.’ In recent years a.s.r. has offset its carbon emissions through forestry projects in Bolivia and Uganda, which have enabled the restoration and extension of existing forest.
Meijdam has a personal affinity with trees, he says. ‘I’m going to plant an apple tree to mark the birth of my new grandson. All being well, in a few years we can pick apples together and stew them.’ It fits well with his idea for a ‘birth forest’. ‘Every village or city has a graveyard. I think it would be good if they all also had a place where parents and grandparents could plant a tree when their child or grandchild is born. In time the trees they planted would grow into a wonderful wood where everyone can feel appreciated and at home.’