Funding a sustainable world

The transition to zero carbon is gaining momentum as more entities commit to sustainable financing, according to Kaylene Gulich, Chief Executive Officer of the Western Australian Treasury Corporation (WATC).

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Maintaining that momentum, she said, means not making the perfect the enemy of the good.

"Progress, not perfection, is I think going to be really important at the whole of Australian level.” - Kaylene Gulich, Chief Executive Officer, Western Australian Treasury Corporation

Speaking on the latest On Air podcast, Gulich said it is critical all bodies, public and private, focus on “how we continue to show progress… to give confidence that we're building that momentum”.

Equally critical is honesty around when progress slows, she said. This may be due to “supply challenges or delivery challenges”, but it’s crucial these factors don’t stop progress.

“Progress, not perfection, is I think going to be really important at the whole of Australian level,” Gulich said in conversation with Bronwyn Corbet, an Executive Director of Sustainable Finance at ANZ Institutional.

“[And] not allowing perfection to get in the way of progress, because progress becomes really important given it won't be a linear transition.”

Gulich and Corbet were speaking after WATC secured a $A1.9 billion dollar 10-year inaugural green bond in June, a first for the state. ANZ acted as joint sustainability coordinator and joint lead manager on the deal.

Corbet said a commitment to this kind of progress was critical as more Australian issuers turned to the finance industry for sustainable funding.

“Capital is a huge, hugely important part of this story,” she said. “The transition and how banks and investors are approaching this.

“It's really critical to have that open dialogue and transparency around where everyone's at in the transition, because it's not going to be linear by any means. It will be lumpy.

“It's our role as capital providers to support our clients with the transition.”

Gulich agreed - and said the challenge would be maintaining success amid growing interest and “a crowded field”.

“We are all racing to the same end goal,” she said. “Needing exactly the same materials, the same resources and the same skill set at a global level.”

“And what's the role of state governments, of financing mechanisms such as what we've done, and [the role of] banks?”

What transition looks like

Gulich said the WATC bond was a “culmination of what's been a really long journey for WATC on behalf of Western Australia”.

More than three times oversubscribed, the demand came on the back of an unprecedented positive response from investors, she said.

“We received a lot of really positive interest from both domestic and offshore investors, interest from names we haven't seen for a long time, and interest from names that are both green and deep green,” Gulich said.

“Which means the breadth of story we were able to tell through that roadshow and all the supporting information really did support, I think, a deepening of an understanding of what the West Australian economy is and what the West Australian Government is doing to progress good environmental outcomes.”

Post-deal feedback has been similarly pleasing, Gulich said.

“The feedback is that we were able to add to… contribute to an understanding of what the transition starts to look like,” she said. “We're able to be really honest about the parts we don't know yet, but we're working towards and how we're going about that, and that seems to have resonated really well, even for those who didn't participate in the deal.”

Corbet agreed.

“That's exactly what came out in the discussions with the investors,” she said. “Thinking about the transition for the national economy and what that means for governments and revenue sources going forward.”

“And what does that mean for supply chain and supply constraints? So the discussion just about some projects the Western Australian government are doing [is driving] a lot of thought about how we're, as a country, approaching the transition.”

As for the future, Gulich said any further issuance is “something that we're thinking through over the next 12 months”.

“It certainly won't be in the next 12 months while we allow this bond to settle down,” she said.

Understanding your own footprint

For parties private, public or otherwise looking at getting involved in the sustainable finance space, Corbet said securing a clear understanding of your own footprint is the best place to start.

“[Understand] your sector's transition pathways because there are multiple dynamics at play,” she said. “Understand what that looks like, what are the challenges and how your company, your organisation will get there.”

For Gulich, being genuine about why the space is of interest to your organisation is critical.

“If you just wanted to do it to have the label, then pause, because it's a lot of work and it actually becomes an ongoing reporting obligation piece,” she said. “If you just want the label, then you're going to get caught short.”

For Corbet, it’s a journey that states and banks like ANZ are on together.

“We're rolling together and nothing's going to be perfect,” she said. “It's just about supporting each other.”

You can listen to the podcast above to find out more.

This note reflects the edited version of the conversation as it appears on the podcast. 

Shane White is Editor at ANZ Institutional Insights

This article first appeared on ANZ Institutional Insights

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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