In 2014 and 2015, Oxfam Australia released a report highlighting the issue of land grabbing and the role financial institutions play.
We see the problem of land grabbing connected to the wider area of responsible agriculture and trading of soft (agricultural) commodities, including the important and growing industries of timber, soy, and palm oil.
Our existing Sustainability Risk Management Framework guides our approach to all environmental, social and governance risks within our business. Before Oxfam published its report, we had already begun giving specific attention to soft commodities and deforestation as signatories to the Banking Environment Initiative's (BEI) Soft Commodities Compact, and more recently the New York Declaration on Forests. In both of these, we were the first bank in Australia and the Asia Pacific region to do so.
The BEI Soft Commodities Compact provides us with a framework to explore new ways of supporting our large customers that produce soft commodities in locations that are at high risk of tropical deforestation and the associated and specific problem of land grabbing, and to operate in a way that is consistent with zero net deforestation.
We take seriously our responsibility to take action and to use our influence to help protect the rights of local communities in all the countries in which we operate. In line with the principles of our Sustainability Risk Management Framework, we will exit relationships in circumstances where customers fail to maintain responsible practices.