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We’ve signed up to transform soft commodity supply chains

2 April 2014

Westpac Group is a founding signatory to the Soft Commodities Compact, the first bank in the Australia and Asia Pacific region to do so.

By signing up to this global initiative, Westpac is committing to do its part to help achieve zero net deforestation by 2020.  

In practice, this means supporting initiatives that will transform the supply chains of soft commodities - those commodities that are grown rather than mined, starting with palm oil, timber products, soy and beef - so as to reduce tropical deforestation.

Siobhan Toohill, Head of Group Sustainability and Community, said the launch of the Soft Commodities Compact is an important step forward for the global banking sector and squarely aligns with Westpac’s stated strategic priority to help find solutions to environmental challenges.    

“Adopting this Compact means we’ll be among global banking leaders working in partnership to support soft commodities markets to operate in a more sustainable way,” Siobhan said.

“It provides a framework for us to explore new ways to support our corporate customers that produce palm oil, timber or soy in locations that are at high risk of tropical deforestation, to operate in a way that’s consistent with zero net deforestation standards.

“It’s another real example of how we are meeting our goal of helping customers to adapt to global environmental challenges.  In fact, some of our customers are already leading the way,” she said.  

Siobhan added that while the Compact references widely recognised standards of best practice likely to already be adopted by many Westpac Group clients in these sectors, it will be particularly beneficial as we expand our lending activities across Asia.

“As we increase lending to customers operating throughout Asia, potentially in countries with less rigorous environmental and social standards than those with which we are familiar in Australia and New Zealand, the Compact will provide a standard to guide our decision-making in this area,” she said.

She said the full compliance deadline of 2020 will give ample time for the relevant business units of Westpac to take appropriate steps to implement the Compact and work with impacted customers.

About the Soft Commodities Compact

The Soft Commodities Compact has been developed by the Banking Environment Initiative working in partnership with the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) to support CGF member companies to transform their commodity supply chains to achieve zero deforestation by 2020.

A range of major international banks have become founding signatories to the Compact, representing approximately one third of the global market for lending to soft commodity supply chains.

The Banking Environment Initiative was formed in 2010 by the Chief Executives (including Westpac Group’s Gail Kelly) of some of the world's largest banks as an exciting new approach to sustainability in the banking industry, working in partnership with customers. The mission of the Banking Environment Initiative is to lead the banking industry in collectively directing capital towards environmentally and socially sustainable economic development.

The Consumer Goods Forum is a global platform for the consumer goods industry.