“As a father, how could I not be worried?”

UN Climate Summit in Madrid: Three questions for the CEO of the Spanish DKV Seguros

Responsibility & dedication, 12.12.2019

Over 20,000 delegates from all over the world attended the UN Climate Change Conference at the Exhibition Centre in Madrid, Spain. The common goal is to speed up climate protection, as the past five years have been the warmest since weather records began. For Central Europe, this meant two hot summers in a row. Spain is not only the venue, but also one of the countries in Europe most severely affected by climate change. Reason enough to ask the long-standing CEO of DKV Seguros, Dr. Josep Santacreu, what he thinks about environmental and climate protection.

Madrid Climate Summit

Environmental protection plays an important role in your company. In 2004, you measured the company's ecological footprint for the first time. What was the result and what consequences have you drawn since then?

At DKV, we care about a healthier world, as reflected in the vision of our strategic plan. That refers to the health of human beings, but also to that of the planet, since both are closely linked. Since we started measuring our carbon emissions back in 2004, we have achieved a 83 percent reduction in the carbon footprint.

Josep Santacreu, DKV SegurosBack then, according to that first measuring, the company contributed 2.780 tonnes of carbon dioxide to air pollution, fifty percent of which were due to the consumption of electricity. Three years later, in 2007, DKV began to offset the remaining emissions that could not be reduced, and became a carbon-neutral company. The latest official data showed that our current emissions of 482.25 tonnes mainly stem from the business trips we make, which is certainly a field where we would like to improve further. 

A number of measures have enabled us to achieve this reduction of 83 percent, and our employees actively contributed to this success. Let me highlight the substitution of recycled paper, the single paper contract for clients, the switch of paper publications to digital ones, the implementation of videoconference meetings to avoid trips, the use of hybrid vehicles in the commercial fleet and the purchase of exclusively green energy in Spain in the past five years.

Beyond involving the employees, we have also tried to make our agents, partners, doctors, suppliers and in general every stakeholder along the whole value chain aware of this reality and get involved in it, in addition to developing insurance solutions that are sustainable.

How do your customers perceive the environmental commitment of DKV Seguros?

We work in a field that is not particularly harmful to the environment. That’s why people are surprised when we explain the vast amount of environmental projects we are involved in. In fact, throughout all these years, we have received multiple awards and recognitions for our work.

In spite of all the measures already in place, we continue to work day after day to improve. For example, our Environmental Unit tries to intervene in all company processes so that they are more efficient in terms of resources and materials, and in turn sustainable. And the Department of Communication devotes enormous efforts to communicate our advances in the field.

DKV can look back at a long history of doing sustainable business. This is the reason why our goal in 2020 is to support our clients’ performance: We would like to sell carbon-neutral insurance policies by then. It is also important to highlight that, in 2010, our company was the first certified company on a European level that measured the footprint impact of the services offered

How do you assess the general awareness of Spaniards today with regard to climate and environmental protection, and how has it changed in the last 20 years since you joined DKV Seguros?

Five or six years ago, environmental issues were quite ignored because they were not perceived as serious problems. However, since the Paris Agreement was signed, there has been a rise in the awareness about the planet’s health. But there is still a long road to travel.

As a health company, our main mission is to create awareness about the close link between the environment and humans’ health.

To reach the general public, we created the Health and Environment Observatory within the DKV Institute of Healthy Life. In the past ten years, it has been a pioneer in connecting environmental challenges to health in its studies - such as the impact that plastics, noise, or air pollution may have on health.

DKV Seguros has more than 60 branches in Spain with 780 employees. What can employees contribute to environmental protection?

We have a network of volunteers called “ekoamigos” spread across the different departments. Their goal is to achieve DKV’s objective regarding the carbon footprint reduction. The “ekoamigos” are extremely critical and very active in spotting weak points where the company could improve further.

Furthermore, since 2011 DKV organizes voluntary meetings for employees and their families to plant trees in order to mitigate the effects of climate change as well as to preserve biodiversity. In this sense, the reforestation carried out with autochthonous species not only absorbs CO2, but also contributes to restoring the natural balance of the area. 

What do you personally do to protect the environment and climate?

As a father, how could I not be worried about the planet my three daughters are going to inherit? That is why, when the founder asked me to help implant and to chair the “Plant-for-the-Planet” organization, I had no doubt about the answer. It is my humble contribution so that future generations may have the planet they deserve. Apart from that, I actively try to participate in all the environmental activities set in motion by DKV: tree planting, beach cleaning, recycling workshops... I also try to be sustainable in my everyday life. I barely consume red meat, I walk an average of ten kilometers every day (which has resulted in a decrease in the cost of taxis and other transport), and the last car I bought is an electric one.

What are your wishes for the Madrid Climate Summit?

Overall, I would like all the countries to agree on and walk towards a common objective. It’s high time to act.

Your opinion
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