The Co-operators, a Canadian financial services co-operative with over two million customers and $35B in assets under administration, has a vision to be a catalyst for a sustainable society. To advance this vision, they adopted an Advocacy Policy and Strategy in 2009 and have been focusing their advocacy efforts in climate change mitigation and adaptation (including flood resilience), healthy lifestyles and fire safety over the past five years. These priorities were chosen because of their strong resonance with the company’s core business as a property, casualty, health and life insurer.
In 2011 The Co-operators adopted a 10-year advocacy goal to 2022, called “Our Public Voice: We are strong and effective public advocates for sustainability and inspire others to take action”. This advocacy goal is one of six in its sustainability strategy.
The company set four-year targets to influence government on building code changes to address wind storms and flooding, mandatory installation of fire sprinklers in new homes and residential care facilities, mandatory installation of carbon monoxide detectors in all homes and increased access to safe cycling in communities. Working in collaboration with other partners, they are making progress with governments on a number of these issues. For example, the Ontario government announced in 2014 that all care homes for seniors, homes for people with disabilities and vulnerable Ontarians will be retrofitted with fire sprinklers.
To support their health advocacy commitments they participate in provincial Bike Summits and sponsor receptions for Ontario’s Members of Provincial Parliament. This bicycle safety initiative also launched their partnership with Share the Road Cycling Coalition.
In 2012 The Co-operators CEO became a founding member of the Corporate Knights Council for Clean Capitalism — a group of influential CEOs with a mandate to advocate for policy changes and to create an economic model in which what is good for business is good for the environment and society. The group has realized success in its promotion of green bonds to finance sustainable infrastructure: in 2014 the Ontario government issued its first green bond to Canadian and international institutional investors to finance transit and other environmental initiatives.
As Canada is the only G8 country without overland flood insurance, the company committed to initiating industry and government dialogue on this gap to help Canadian home owners protect themselves from flood damage. They commissioned and publishedacademic research on the issue in 2013 which called for a multi-stakeholder approach. In 2014 The Co-operators held an industry and government roundtable to pursue solutions, publishing another report summarizing the dialogue.
The Co-operators reports on their advocacy commitments and progress in their annual sustainability report. In addition to tracking the success of their advocacy efforts, they also monitor the positive media they generate and have realized a marked improvement over four years since they set and advanced on their advocacy goals. It is likely that their advocacy work has contributed to this result.
Public Policy Advocacy
Advocate for public policy that advances sustainability.