SUSTAINABILITY IS ABOUT MORE THAN THE ENVIRONMENT

GROUP CHIEF EXECUTIVE, AVIVA

SUSTAINABILITY is a word that crops up in a lot of the conversations going on at Davos. For many, it’s a shorthand for environmentalism, but for us it has to mean much more than that. Our relationships with customers can last for decades – running a sustainable business is how we safeguard the financial futures of our 44m customers.

We know that we can only provide our customers with prosperity and peace of mind if we act responsibly, sustainably and with integrity. Well-managed, responsible businesses will perform better and create more sustainable value over the long term.

We want our employees to be able to build a rewarding career with us. We want our customers to stay with us – and recommend us to others. We want to be a responsible corporate citizen and make a lasting, positive contribution to society. All these approaches build sustainability into the heart of the business.

Later this year at the Rio+20 summit, we’ll be leading a coalition of financial institutions, professional bodies, NGOs and investors in calling for agreement on a global convention on corporate sustainability reporting. The idea is to get company boards to consider and report on the future sustainability of the firms they govern and thus encourage more responsible long-term approaches to investment.

However, it isn’t enough just to talk to the financial community. We also have to concern ourselves with the communities in which we live and work. Our international Street to School programme aims to help children living and working on the streets get back into some form of education and training. We intend to help half a million children by 2015. Our employees have dedicated over 30,000 volunteering hours to Street to School project work. Here in the UK, where the issue of street children is often less acknowledged, our staff are helping deliver run-away awareness and prevention lessons to young people.

In investments, insurance, as an employer and as a company, we think long term: we try to ensure there is sustainability in everything we do.