"The droughts and fires that occurred in France this summer are a reminder of the extent our forest ecosystems are exposed to climate change. "
- Stéphane Hallaire, Reforest'Action president and founder
When the commitment was first announced, AXA noted that “deforestation is one of the main causes of biodiversity loss and carbon emissions,” and that the destruction of the world’s forests is a double loss for the planet’s climate.
Hence, to protect the world’s forests, AXA pledged £1.27bn to support sustainable forest management, including reforestation projects in emerging countries.
Commenting on this commitment, Thomas Buberl, AXA chief executive, said:
"Forests represent 80% of the Earth's biodiversity and play an essential role in the fight against climate change. AXA has been a pioneer in the financial industry by adopting, in 2013, restrictions on unsustainable palm oil operations to protect stressed ecosystems.
“In the face of the climate emergency, and prior to the COP26, we are proud to extend our commitments and announce new measures to fight deforestation, protect forest ecosystems, and preserve biodiversity.”
As well as its commitment to sustainable forest management, the insurer also announced that it had joined the World Heritage Sites initiative. This project was launched by the United Nations Principles for Sustainable Insurance and WWF.
Through this partnership, AXA implemented exclusions in its insurance activities to protect biodiversity reserves that have been identified by UNESCO.
In a press release, AXA prefaced that it would continue its ongoing commitment to biodiversity conservation as a founding member of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures.
A year on, AXA has launched the Forests for Good programme, which seeks to help restore damaged forest ecosystems and make them more resilient to climate change.
According to AXA, the Forests for Good programme has four main objectives: to study the impact of global warming and land artificialisation on the loss of biodiversity, restore the forest, strengthen the insurer’s leadership on climate and biodiversity issues, and contribute to a better understanding of the role of forests.
Commenting on the programme, Ulrike Decoene, AXA head of communication, brand and sustainability, has said:
“We are proud to launch the AXA Forests for Good programme today with recognised experts in this field. This is another important step in our commitment to protect forest ecosystems, following on from our actions in this area in 2013 against unsustainable palm oil exploitation and in 2021 for sustainable forest management.
"This programme is also part of our global strategy to fight global warming and preserve biodiversity.”