We all love and rely on nature 

Australia is one of the few mega-diverse countries on the planet. Over 80% of Australia's animals and plants are found nowhere else on Earth.

Nature underpins our lives, our health, our climate and our economy. It's the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the places we escape to.

Yet modern societies have operated as if they exist externally to the natural world, rather than within it. This is concerning, given the complete dependence of all human activity on nature to meet our needs. Our society derives benefits from nature, known as ecosystem services which we depend on for our prosperity and survival.

Nature provides us with:

  • Fresh water for drinking, farming and industry,
  • Carbon regulation by oceans and forests to stabilise our climate,
  • Bugs, beetles and insects to turn the soil or pollinate crops,
  • Raw materials for building housing and goods,
  • Mangroves and reefs to stabilise landforms and mitigate against climate impacts,
  • The cultural and psychological benefits that come from spending time in nature.

The prosperity and resilience of our society depends on the overall state of the natural environment and the supply of these ecosystem services. Roughly half of Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) has a moderate to very high direct dependence on nature, and indirectly every single dollar that flows through the Australian economy depends on the health and survival of natural systems.

Banks and super funds can help protect nature

Given that our health, quality of life and survival are dependent on nature, the rapid and unprecedented rate at which the natural environment is being degraded is concerning. The changes we have made to the land and seascapes in Australia have driven more mammals to extinction than on any other continent.

We don’t often consider banks and super funds as vital nature protectors, but financial institutions can play a key role in protecting the nature we love because they finance industries that have the most impact on it.

The policies and strategies implemented by banks and super funds to minimise nature damage are critical because their operations stretch across our entire economy. Almost every activity in the economy is financed by a bank or super fund, including some of the most destructive activities.

By committing not to finance destructive practices like deforestation, banks and super funds can ensure funding for nature destruction disappears, and instead direct money towards restorative practices.

The financial system is built on the assumption of a healthy natural world, but as the nature crisis worsens, financial institutions will become more vulnerable if they do not acknowledge their role in protecting and restoring nature.

As customers of Australia’s biggest banks, we can call on them to stop bulldozing and start restoring nature. Send a pre-written email to ANZ, CommBank, or NAB right now!

Audrey van Herwaarden

Corporate Analyst, ACF