Westpac NZ Unveils Sustainable Farm & Business Loans

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Westpac NZ, a prominent financial institution, has taken a significant step forward by unveiling two groundbreaking sustainable loans catering to the needs of farming and corporate business customers.

The introduction of New Zealand's inaugural comprehensive sustainable loan for farming showcases Westpac NZ's dedication to fostering environmentally responsible practices across various sectors.

Catherine McGrath, the Chief Executive of Westpac NZ, emphasises that the newly launched Sustainable Farm Loan and Sustainable Business Loan offer practical avenues for customers to enhance their climate change resilience, minimise greenhouse gas emissions, and generate positive impacts for communities.

The recent devastation caused by severe weather events has reinforced the far-reaching consequences of climate change on households, businesses, and communities. Recognising the crucial role that businesses and farms play in driving sustainability, Westpac NZ is determined to provide support to facilitate even greater sustainability among farms and businesses, ensuring the preservation of New Zealand's cherished environment.

The Sustainable Farm Loan stands out as the first loan in Aotearoa to promote sustainability comprehensively throughout all facets of farming, encompassing all term debt associated with farms.

By launching the Westpac Sustainable Farm Standard, Westpac NZ encourages farmers and growers to adopt sustainable practices and develop resilient farms. This loan is designed to assist farming customers in assessing and mitigating on-farm vulnerabilities and risks arising from climate change and extreme weather events, covering aspects such as land, farming systems, and infrastructure.

Additionally, it encourages the adoption of farm management strategies, preservation of waterway biodiversity, enhancement of nutrient management, and the understanding and management of agricultural emissions.

Collaborating with AsureQuality, Westpac ensures that the Westpac Sustainable Farm Standard meets stringent industry-agreed guidelines outlined in the Sustainable Agriculture Finance Initiative.

To reduce duplication and reporting commitments for customers already employing on-farm assurance programmes, the Westpac Sustainable Farm Standard is harmonised with these existing programmes.

The standard sets forth requirements for farmers to meet to improve sustainability outcomes in vital areas like water management, fertiliser application, waste management, climate change mitigation, adaptation to climate change, biodiversity preservation, and soil health.

Farmers are given a two-year timeframe to comply with the Westpac Sustainable Farm Standard and are offered immediate support through a competitive 0.20% discount on the existing loan interest margin covering all term debt associated with their farms.

Additionally, Westpac NZ has introduced the Sustainable Business Loan to assist corporate and agribusiness customers in advancing their sustainability endeavours, whether focused on environmental improvement, positive social outcomes, or both.

Customers indicate a growing demand for change from consumers, suppliers, and shareholders. Being a sustainable business not only makes sound business sense but also helps foster engaged teams, connect with consumers, reduce operating costs, and support the community.

The Sustainable Business Loan serves as tangible support for customers seeking to invest in sustainability initiatives. It enables corporate and agribusiness customers to finance projects that enhance the environment, facilitate climate change adaptation, or deliver positive social outcomes for communities or specific groups.

It complements the Sustainable Farm Loan while targeting specific assets and projects. Eligible examples include green buildings, solar panels, electric vehicles, waste reduction, biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation, affordable housing, and financial education programmes.

Both the Sustainable Farm Loan and the Sustainable Business Loan offer a competitive 0.20% discount on the loan interest margin, emphasising Westpac's commitment to collaborating with customers for greater outcomes and supporting a sustainable, resilient, inclusive, and successful future for Aotearoa.

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Source: Westpac

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