With the events of 2020 – such as the bush fires and then the pandemic – the need to future proof Australian businesses has never seemed more imperative. But what does this mean in a practical sense?
NAB has been a leader on investment in green infrastructure and sustainable business practices for nearly 20 years and, with the launch of its inaugural Sustainability Report in 2020, has now embedded sustainability in its corporate strategy at every level.
To find out more we talked to David Jenkins, Global Head of Sustainable Finance, and James Bentley, Associate Director Natural Capital, about some of the NAB’s major green innovations and what sustainability looks like in the finance sector heading into the next five years.
Building resilience and prosperity through sustainable investment
According to Deloitte’s 2021 Climate Check Report - based on a survey of 750 executives worldwide between January and February 2021 - 82% of respondents are concerned or very concerned about climate change, however, there remains a significant gap between ‘sentiments and action’ in terms of implementing changes.1
This is definitely not the case at NAB, as David Jenkins explains: “We invested in renewable energy 20 years ago and we’ve been leveraging and building on those investments ever since. More recently, we’ve taken what we’ve learnt locally over that time offshore.”
NAB is now the leading renewable energy financer in Australia and is fast becoming a leader in the global finance sector as well.
Supporting businesses in the transition to renewables
“In the case of investing in and financing renewable energy, it’s been a foundational approach at NAB,” says Jenkins. “We wanted to be leaders in terms of helping businesses transition their energy mix, whether it's in the utility sector or elsewhere.”
“We then saw the opportunity to create investment opportunities on the other side, for customers that wanted to support the shift to renewables, and that success is reflected in the flow of investment capital that, over recent years, has really accelerated.”
In response to the enthusiasm for investment in renewables, NAB was the first bank in the world to issue a Climate Bonds Standard certified green bond.
“It took significant leadership from our end in creating an opportunity to develop a green financing or green bond platform,” says Jenkins. “We had some challenges getting it to market, but in 2014 we issued a green bond in the domestic market, raising $300 million and financing a raft of renewable energy projects around Australia.”
In 2019, NAB increased its commitment to green energy and infrastructure to the tune of $70 billion by 2025.2
Growing sustainable businesses and communities from the ground up
One of the keys to NAB’s success in tackling climate change and sustainability is its organisation-wide commitment to reducing its own impact on the environment, giving the bank insights into the process that can benefit its customers.
James Bentley notes that, “The focus on customers and supporting them on their sustainability journeys is where we know we can have the biggest impact. And making sure that our own house is in order has been a key priority for the bank.”
“We’ve been carbon neutral for 10 years now and we’ve undertaken integrated reporting for even longer than that. From an internal perspective, our sustainability program covers a huge range of issues, from the sourcing of ethical inputs into our business to dealing with things like modern slavery, to mention just a couple.”
Partnering with business and community on environmental sustainability
A core pillar of NAB’s 2020 Sustainability Report and its approach to the years ahead is the concept of partnering with businesses and communities to protect the environment and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
“We’re working with businesses like Australia Post who have the same long-term vision and goals to tackle environmental impacts and climate change. NAB is also a Bank@Post3 partner, which allows us to provide inclusive agency banking services to all Australians through participating Post Offices – another way we’re supporting communities on their sustainability journeys.”
“There's a clear realisation that the future relies on us acting collectively for the long term. From our perspective, we're embedding sustainability in our business, in how we do business, and in how we can support our customers to do the same,” says Jenkins.
“It's all about addressing society's biggest challenges through commercial responses, such as providing financing opportunities and solutions and incentivising our customers to take more sustainable actions.”
To find out how Australia Post can help your business become more sustainable, please reach out to your Account Manager.