The role of businesses in delivering against the sustainable development goals, by Maurice Tulloch, Aviva.

The eyes of the world were on New York last week, with the launch of the UN Sustainable Development Global Goals – 17 ambitious targets for sustainable development, to tackle climate change, end poverty and improve health – for everyone – by 2030.

And it was a big week for Aviva too – as Mark Wilson, our Group CEO, was speaking at the UN General Assembly about the role of business and finance in turning the Goals from words on the page to reality.

This is something that’s built into how we do business – through our day to day business operations and in collaboration with organisations across the world.  In particular we focus on programmes that aren’t just aimed at one aspect of sustainable development – but cut across several, particularly on climate change and empowering communities.


Goal 13 is close to my heart: urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. Climate change is already having a significant impact on our business, our customers and the global economy.

So in response, we continually strive to reduce our environmental impacts and carbon emissions. That means seeking internal energy and consumption efficiencies, investing in low-carbon technologies and setting ourselves targets year on year to reduce our environmental impacts. And we constantly assess and review the actions we can take to help tackle climate change.

But we don’t just consider Climate Change in isolation. The Global Goals are interconnected, and we use our resources effectively by tackling multiple challenges through innovative programmes and partnerships to have the maximum impact.

Working with climate and sustainable development experts ClimateCare, we offset our carbon emissions through a range of innovative, award winning projects that deliver measurable social impacts for local communities.

Since 2011, Aviva’s Climate+Care programme has not only reduced enough CO2 emissions to offset our global operational footprint, it has measurably improved the lives of over 800,000 people, in vulnerable and at-risk communities and in the markets that our business relies on.

We’ve helped smallholder farmers increase their crop yields and improve their land through improved irrigation, empowered women by reducing their exposure to harmful indoor air pollution from cooking on open fires and inefficient cookstoves, and increased household incomes in many communities.

We can have the maximum positive impact in delivering the Goals by working with experts, sharing our own expertise and making the right investments to deliver a whole range of outcomes.  The Goals present a huge global opportunity – and a huge global responsibility.  As Mark said in New York, this isn’t a matter for governments, NGOs or business on their own.  They’re too big for that.  They’re for all of us, working together.  to use one of the values we hold dear at Aviva, that would create a legacy to be proud of.

Maurice Tulloch is Chairman, Global General Insurance and Chief Executive Officer at Aviva UK & Ireland General Insurance.