Written by José Galamba, President of the Portuguese Association of Insurance Companies
sIn addition to the macroeconomic and geopolitical challenges that are so evident today and largely occupy the agendas of business leaders, we cannot help but continue to pay attention to the major structural challenges of our society, specifically those arising from climate change, winter demographic conditions, and climate change. The increasingly intensive use of new technologies, which calls us, as managers, to be aware of the evolving risks associated with these trends and the need to develop new responses and solutions that mitigate these risks.
With regard to climate change, what we are certainly observing is an increase in the frequency and intensity of catastrophic events, such as storms, fires, floods, etc. These environmental risks, although certainly more prevalent in some industries than others, are finally beginning to be taken into account by business leaders and managers in their decision-making processes.
Regarding the demographic winter, a situation in which Portugal stands out, we are witnessing the opposite demographic development – a very low birth rate, while the lives of the older generations are getting longer. On the other hand, this reality poses significant challenges to financing future pensions or even health care costs often associated with innovative treatments made possible by advancing science to respond to the increasing and predictable prevalence of chronic diseases, with implications for financial availability. On the other hand, for families, the welcome longevity of the elderly brings new opportunities for new product and service offerings to this new social reality (the emergence of the “gray” or “silver” economy).
Finally, the presence and increasing use of new technologies in all aspects of our lives, both personal and professional, creates many opportunities for comfort and well-being in our lives in society. In fact, the use of predictive models and AI tools opens new opportunities to create products with prices and features that adapt to consumers’ needs and concerns, at the right time, which is essential to improving the customer experience. But this development in the use of data brings new challenges and new dilemmas and means strengthening the need to act ethically in this digital age, especially the need to find a balance between the individual’s right to privacy and the specific needs of economic activity. . But not seizing the opportunity offered by these new technologies puts creativity itself at risk. Innovation that must be based on ethical rules and values, because this is the only way to achieve a positive impact on consumer society and, ultimately, to build more resilient societies. It is also worth noting that as a result of the levels of interconnectedness that these new technologies allow, they create an increased level of exposure to cyber risks, with the potential for systemic impact if not adequately mitigated.
Building a more resilient and sustainable society that accommodates the major structural challenges mentioned above is an inevitable issue in the era in which we live. It is an issue that has increasing prominence in terms of public opinion and is therefore increasingly present on the agenda of not only political decision-makers, but also of business leaders and managers.
Although environmental issues, especially climate change, are the main drivers of this global movement, we cannot forget that the Sustainable Development Goals, as defined by the United Nations and generally accepted by society, also include social and health concerns. Areas that are collectively referred to as ESG.
This turns sustainability into a topic with a very broad scope of action, with its own dynamism, as we witness developments from very diverse sources that will inevitably have direct and indirect impacts on the corporate and business world.
However, adequate management of ESG issues, in decision-making processes, will enhance everyone’s contribution to building a resilient, inclusive and sustainable system. Given that environmental and social challenges are so broad and complex, the commitment of society as a whole is essential to promoting and developing innovative solutions with long-term impacts. This will only be achieved if, on the one hand, all economic sectors work in a coordinated way and contribute together to the transition to a more sustainable economy; On the other hand, if there are strong commitments, both on the part of governments, embodied in public policies, and on the part of companies, to develop projects in line with sustainability goals.
The role of responsible management has never been more important – in the challenging times in which we live, business leaders and managers have increasing responsibilities in promoting a sustainable society that achieves economic and social development for all. In this sense, they must apply new references in their decision-making processes, and incorporate new standards and goals that respond to society’s challenges.
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