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Zurich appoints sustainability head in Sydney

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Shaneen Marshall has taken on the expanded role of Head of Strategy and Sustainability at Zurich as the insurer prepares to launch a customer pilot in its life business this year with platform Reforest.

Sydney-based Ms Marshall is responsible for managing Zurich’s new sustainability strategy in Australia and New Zealand.

“We want sustainability to be at the heart of our business,” she said. “Having explicit executive accountability so close to our strategy shows our commitment.

"I’m delighted to have been given this opportunity to drive forward our efforts in Australia and New Zealand.”

The local sustainability efforts come as Zurich Insurance Group fast-forwards its global net zero operations target by two decades to 2030.

During the pilot, Zurich Retail Life will purchase a tree on behalf of new life insurance customers who opt in, and they will have the option to purchase more trees. It has a goal of planting 2500 trees and removing 575 tonnes of carbon dioxide, and follows the Zurich Forest project which was launched in 2020 to support reforestation and biodiversity restoration in Brazil.

Zurich says it will reduce emissions from local operations by 60% and from printed paper by 70% by 2025, and cut the carbon intensity of its local investment portfolio by a quarter by 2025 with an aim to have a carbon neutral portfolio by 2050.

Locally, most of Zurich’s power is sourced from renewables and it uses ‘GreenPower’ energy sourced from wind farms in Tasmania, and worldwide Zurich does not underwrite or invest in companies that generate more than 30% of their revenue from mining thermal coal or produce more than 20 million tons of thermal coal per year.

Ms Marshall says with more than half a million individual customers and many large corporate partners across Australia & New Zealand, it is “our responsibility to do the right thing by our planet and encourage others to do the same”.

“Sustainability will increasingly be embedded into everything we do for our customers, advisers, brokers, employees and partners and the growth of our business will continue to be guided by environmental, social and governance goals,” she said.