Risky business: Australia’s banks and super funds not well prepared for nature risks

New analysis shows while Australian banks and super funds are increasing their awareness of how nature intersects with business, they still have a way to go to mitigate the risks – and seize the opportunities – that come with their dependence on nature.

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s Risky Business assesses how 10 banks and 10 super funds are addressing nature-related risks in their portfolios, where progress is being made and where more action is needed. It shows:

  • Momentum is building, with more institutions having performed nature-related assessments in 2024, than when the survey was conducted in 2022.
  • When it comes to assessing and disclosing nature risks and setting targets, banks are progressing more quickly than super funds.
  • Nature risk has been elevated as a materially financial risk, but policy and strategy to address the risk are lacking.

“Our society and economic systems depend entirely on the health of our natural world, so the ongoing destruction of nature has serious implications for financial institutions,” said Audrey van Herwaarden, ACF’s Analyst – Corporate Environmental Performance.

“Australia is set to be one of the worst affected by the decline in nature, with forecasts estimating losses of $20 billion per year in GDP by 2050.

“The financial sector has a special responsibility for reversing the nature crisis because it finances industries that have the most impact on nature.

“Our analysis shows banks and super funds still have a way to go to mitigate the risks – and seize the opportunities – associated with their impacts and dependence on nature.

“Banks and super funds need to assess and disclose their exposure to nature-related risks and set targets to manage loans or investments that are causing nature destruction.

“Australians want to know they are not unwittingly financing the extinction of much-loved animals like the koala, or the collapse of rainforests, via their savings.”

ACF research shows roughly half Australia’s GDP is directly dependent on nature (and every single dollar that flows through our economy indirectly depends on nature).

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