Environmental Finance's Sustainable Debt Awards 2024

Sustainability-linked loan of the year - other: Macquarie University

The AUD450 million ($307 million) sustainability-linked loan (SLL) signed by Macquarie University has been honoured for its unique structure, including its reinvestment of any pricing benefits into scholarships to students.

Professor S Bruce Dowton

One Sustainable Debt Awards judge described the deal as "very interesting and exciting," in particular due to the "broad range of impact areas" covered by the large number of targets.

The loan incorporates six environmental and social targets, including reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improving gender equality, and expanding its widening participation programme in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The facility also includes biodiversity targets focused on conserving the forest containing endangered Turpentine-Ironbark, of which more than three hectares is located on the Macquarie University campus. This is one of the first few biodiversity-focused SLL targets in Australia.

As well as praising the "multi-faceted" targets chosen, another awards judge praised the loan for its "unique" structure in relation to committing to using any interest savings achieved to finance scholarships for disadvantaged students. The first two of these scholarships have been offered to students starting in 2024.

The university has also committed to providing annual, public reporting on its target progress. Charles Davis – sustainable finance and ESG head at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), which acted as sustainability coordinator on the deal - said that he hoped this commitment "sets a global benchmark with regards to impact and transparency for other borrowers to aspire to".

Macquarie University vice-chancellor S Bruce Dowton told Environmental Finance the institution was "inspired by, and determined to meet, the loan's ambitious targets" and hoped that its efforts "encourage others to make meaningful inroads on their sustainability journey".