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Corporate Responsibility

In 2019 the ABA commenced a program of work to highlight for Australians the social and environmental initiatives.

Its purpose is to define and promote the implementation of best practices within the ABA membership to respond to the financial risks and opportunities stemming from climate – and environment – related changes, such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

Large organisations like banks have a responsibility to be transparent with stakeholders about their social and environmental impacts. As the world works towards a myriad of sustainable goals and ambitions, business functions such as finance must shift to suit the needs of organisations and governments.

Financial institutions must recognise the role of the financial services sector in making our economy and lifestyles sustainable and commit to the integration of environmental and social considerations into all aspects of their operations.


UNEP Finance Initiative

The United Nations Environment Programme – Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) is a partnership between United Nations Environment and the global financial sector created in the wake of the 1992 Earth Summit with a mission to promote sustainable finance. More than 230 financial institutions, including banks, insurers, and investors, work with UN Environment to understand today’s environmental, social and governance challenges, why they matter to finance, and how to actively participate in addressing them.

Financial institutions must recognise the role of the financial services sector in making our economy and lifestyles sustainable and commit to the integration of environmental and social considerations into all aspects of their operations.

The UNEP Statement of Commitment by Financial Institutions on Sustainable Development represents the backbone of the Initiative. By signing up to the Statement, financial institutions openly recognize the role of the financial services sector in making our economy and lifestyles sustainable and commit to the integration of environmental and social considerations into all aspects of their operations.
In 2019 the ABA commenced a programme of work to highlight for Australians the social and environmental initiatives. Its purpose is to define and promote the implementation of best practices within the ABA membership to respond to the financial risks and opportunities stemming from climate – and environment – related changes, such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

APRA member, Mr. Geoff Summerhayes, is also Chair of UN Environment’s Sustainable Insurance Forum. APRA’s views on the economic risks of climate change, recently echoed by the Reserve Bank of Australia, are consistent with those of financial regulators internationally. These risks are material, foreseeable and actionable now.

Community

Australia’s banks value the communities in which they find themselves and are committed to engaging with their stakeholders – whether that be their customers, employees, suppliers, community partners, the broader community or the environment.

For pensioners, students, people with a disability or those financially disadvantaged, there are substantial fee discounts and exemptions provided by most banks.

Many banks assist their customers and the broader community by providing financial education, financial literacy and financial inclusion programs and activities. 

Banks make a difference in our community in many ways. It could be supporting a helicopter which helps save lives, volunteering to help people in their suburb, actively helping raise money for medical research, developing programs to help our young people in sport, business and to improve life skills, sponsoring sporting clubs and associations, or providing grants and funding of education and scholarship opportunities.

Environment

Climate change

The ABA supports the view that climate change is a material, foreseeable, and actionable risk which will present challenges to the Australian economy if action is not taken. Banks have a key role to play in the management of physical and transition risks associated with climate change.

Each ABA member is undertaking specific actions tailored to the individual characteristics of their bank to address climate change. The banking industry in Australia supports the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Click on the links for more information about banks’ environment and sustainability programs:

ANZ Banking Group
Commonwealth Bank of Australia
NAB
Westpac

Water and land management issues

The Australian banking industry supports the sustainable commercial use of land and water.  Land and water ownership are the main forms of collateral used by agribusiness as security for loans.  The regulation of water and land can have a significant impact on their value as security for loans.  The regulation of water and land can also affect their use in producing cash flow and therefore the ability of a business to meet their financial obligations. The ABA therefore has an active interest in the regulation of water and land.