Banks and financial institutions have large roles to play in sustainable development. When done right, they can engage in financial practices that can contribute and have a positive impact on the environment, as well as support carbon emitting customers’ low-carbon transition. As ReThink Hong Kong, the city’s best attended and most ambitious business event for sustainable development, makes a return on October 5-6 at the HKCEC, it’s a unique opportunity to gain insights and solutions from sustainability practitioners and business leaders on wide ranging topics including sustainable finance and sustainable policy in the banking sector.
Earth.Org had a conversation with Nancy Wang, Director of Sustainable Finance at ANZ, ahead of her panel at ReThink, on how businesses can provide drivers and opportunities for sustaining and restoring Earth’s biodiversity.
EO: What are ANZ’s Overarching Sustainability Goals and Why Is It Important for the Bank to Set Them Out?
Wang: Businesses have a critical role to play in achieving and enabling sustainable development and ANZ believes that financial institutions have a key role to play. Our purpose is to help shape a world where people and communities thrive which we do through our three strategic pillars: improving the financial wellbeing of our customers, employees, and the community by helping them make the most of their money; supporting households, businesses and financial practices that improve environmental sustainability; and improving the availability of suitable and affordable housing options for all Australians and New Zealanders.
We have over 8.5 million customers across retail and businesses, operating across 33 markets. ANZ also has a group-wide target to fund and facilitate over AUD$50 billion by 2025 across sustainable solutions.
EO: How Does ANZ Support Customers and Companies’ Transition Towards Low-Carbon?
Wang: As part of our commitment towards environmental sustainability, we are focussing our efforts on energy, water and waste due to their relevance to the customers we bank and the markets in which we operate. But fundamentally, it’s really just hearing from our customers. We encourage and support 100 of our largest customers to establish, and where appropriate, strengthen existing low carbon transition plans. Each company has their own journey and our relationships with them have really shifted from understanding their sustainability reporting practices to having conversations with them to get a deeper understanding of their plans.
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EO: What are the Biggest Challenges in Sustainable Finance?
Wang: As our customers continue to recognise the importance of sustainability, the surge in demand and subsequent growth of the sustainable finance market has occurred rapidly. The biggest challenge is not only in managing the volumes but, most importantly, ensuring transactions are relevant to our customers and structured in line with internationally recognised principles.
Our international team spans Hong Kong, Singapore, and London, all of whom are dedicated to structuring credible sustainable finance transactions with experience across capital markets, loans, corporate sustainability and advisory.
EO: What are Some Key Highlights and Successes for ANZ’s Sustainable Finance?
Wang: ANZ remains on track to meet our sustainability target of funding at least AUD$50 billion by 2025 towards sustainable solutions for our customers. We have also been recognised as a leading Sustainable Finance House in APAC having won a number of industry awards.
It’s pleasing to see that as customers form their own sustainability strategy and targets, they are eager to tie their financing structures to their broader ambitions. To support this shift, we continue to deepen our sustainable finance product offering including the recent release of sustainable supply chain, green guarantee, and sustainability-linked derivative offerings.
EO: Your Panel at ReThink is On the Business of Biodiversity. How Can Banks and Companies Contribute in Improving and Restoring Nature and Biodiversity?
Wang: Nature and biodiversity are integral to the way we operate. With the recent launch of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), and with the UN Biodiversity Summit approaching, awareness around the topic continues to grow. As a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Banking ANZ has set targets that are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. We also continue to closely observe and support the rapidly evolving landscape to ensure we uphold the expectations of our customers, employees and the community.
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