PSI-WWF World Heritage Sites initiative



Protecting our world heritage

The insurance industry’s commitment to protect World Heritage Sites



1. Background

Many of the world’s most famous places—those with unparalleled natural and cultural beauty, significance and/or biological diversity such as the Galápagos Islands, the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef, Mount Kilimanjaro, and the Pyramids of Egypt— have been designated as World Heritage Sites by the .

These places are recognised globally for their outstanding universal value—“cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity. As such, the permanent protection of this heritage is of the highest importance to the international community as a whole”.


Currently, there are nearly 1,100 natural, cultural, and mixed (i.e. natural and cultural) World Heritage Sites across the globe. Natural World Heritage Sites, in particular, provide economic, social and environmental benefits. They provide vital resources such as food, fuel and water; perform environmental services such as stabilising soils, preventing floods, and capturing carbon; and contribute significantly to economies through jobs, tourism, recreation, and exports.

However, almost half of natural World Heritage Sites are threatened by harmful industrial activities such as exploring and extracting oil, gas and minerals; illegal logging; overfishing; unsustainable use of water; and large-scale infrastructure projects such as dams, pipelines, roads, and mega ports.

Furthermore, one of the ten targets under —i.e. “Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”—is to “strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage”.

2. Aims

As risk managers, insurers and investors, the insurance industry can play a key role in protecting the priceless and irreplaceable assets that make up our world heritage.

The PSI, WWF and UNESCO worked together with the insurance industry to deliver the world’s first insurance industry statement of commitment to protect the outstanding universal value of World Heritage Sites. This initiative spans risk management, insurance and investment activities of the insurance industry, as well as education, awareness raising and stakeholder engagement.

The statement was launched at the, which was held from 24 June to 4 July 2018 in Manama, Bahrain. See the press release.

Furthermore, this initiative complements other major PSI initiatives—particularly the initiative to develop global guidance to manage environmental, social and governance risks in insurance underwriting and the Insurance Industry Development Goals for Cities launched by the PSI and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability at the ICLEI World Congress 2018 in Montréal in June 2018.

3. The insurance industry’s statement of commitment to protect World Heritage Sites

Download the Statement, Protecting our world heritage: The insurance industry’s commitment to protect World Heritage Sites

Signatories (country of domicile) include:

Certified Sustainable Insurance Partners (United States)

Earth Security Group (United Kingdom)

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability (Germany)

Interamerican Hellenic Insurance Group (Greece)

La Banque Postale (France)

National Reinsurance Corporation of the Philippines (Philippines)

Microinsurance Network (Luxembourg)

Peak Re (China)

Philippines Insurers & Reinsurers Association (Philippines)

RepRisk (Switzerland)

Risk Management Solutions (United States)

Swiss Re (Switzerland)


See all signatories

4.  How to become a signatory to the statement of commitment

There are two signatory categories:

Category 1

  • Signatory companies:  Insurance and reinsurance companies, intermediaries (e.g. agents and brokers), and other companies and organisations that provide insurance and reinsurance products or services

Category 2

  • Supporting institutions: Insurance and reinsurance associations, institutes and initiatives; insurance regulatory and supervisory authorities; civil society organisations; academic institutions; and other institutions that work with the insurance industry

To become a signatory to the Statement—either as a signatory company or as a supporting institution—simply e-mail the project team at [email protected] and confirm that your organisation would like to sign the Statement.

Signatories will be recognised in various PSI, WWF and UNESCO communications and events.

5. Next steps

Follow-up activities include:

  • A webinar series to promote the aims of the Statement and best practices across risk management, insurance and investment
  • Guidance on how the insurance industry can protect World Heritage Sites and protected areas
  • Exploring environmental risk management tools for the insurance industry

To learn more, please [email protected].

6. Reference materials and links

UN information




  • (Ecofact and WWF, 2017)
  • (Dalberg Global Development Advisors and WWF, 2016)
  • (Aviva Investors, Investec and WWF, 2015)
  • (IUCN, 2014)





  • WWF
  • Article: (June 2018)
  • Article: (UNESCO, May 2018)
  • Article: (ICMM)
  • Article: (International Banker, March 2018)
  • Article:   (International Banker, Sept 2017)
  • ICMM Position:
  • UK’s on the role of banks in protecting world heritage sites (RI, June 2017)





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Signatory companies & Supporting institutions