What’s ahead for sustainability and SBC in 2019

31 Jan 2019
SOURCE:
Alison Herft, Manager, Members and Consumer Programme

Regeneration, climate-friendly food production and the customers of the future were just some of the themes discussed at our first events for 2019.

In the last couple of weeks we have been privileged to connect with about 150 members in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch at our forward-looking What’s Ahead networking sessions.

Our Executive Director, Abbie Reynolds, talked about how SBC is performing against our strategy and what we’ve heard from members. She highlighted the biggest emerging issues in 2019 that our members need to be aware of, including the urgency to “double down” on climate change action.  There are growing expectations for business on transparency and disclosure of climate change risk and activity, and businesses will need to understand how to adapt in this new environment. The other significant issues businesses are likely to face in the year ahead are the ramping-up of consumer power, the push to transform global and local food systems, and the evolution of sustainability to more of a regenerative approach.

Kate Alcock, SBC’s Climate Manager, said that SBC will focus more on transport this year as we know it’s a key opportunity area for Aotearoa, and our members. There’ll be a workshop in May – run in partnership with the Ministry of Transport – to look at members’ existing transition plans and delve deeper into what it will take to overcome current barriers in relation to transport.

Other work this year in the climate work programme is the development of a CEO guide to help New Zealand business leaders understand the risks and opportunities on climate change, and working with Ministry for the Environment, EECA and WWF NZ on a large-scale event called EMBARK to connect businesses with low-emission product and solution providers.

The consumer decision-making work programme will continue to keep members at the leading edge of the evolution of sustainability storytelling and shifting consumer expectations. We want to help members see where they can play a role in the global and local shifts towards a society where sustainable consumption is the norm.

One big part of this work is the Good Life New Zealand project, which will present a unique perspective on what really matters most to Kiwis and what they really think the “good life” looks and feels like, that goes well beyond the out-dated view of consumption as “bigger, faster, more”.  Tools will be developed as part of this project to help members apply what matters most to New Zealanders to their business strategies and brand communications.

Throughout the year we’ll also run webinars, networking events, and conduct video interviews, to help build member capability in connecting with consumers in a meaningful way that supports their sustainability efforts, and to bring the latest insights from experts and leaders to members.

Rob Perry, Sustainable Leadership Manager, presented the three core components of his programme: building leadership capability, building organisational capability, and good governance and disclosure.

We’re looking to reframe SBC’s sustainable leadership programmes, by moving from developing individual leaders to developing leadership across systems. And there’ll be a focus on how work, occupations and workplaces are being reshaped by the new technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics, in the face of demographic shifts such as an aging population, as well as what this all means for a just transition to a low carbon economy.

Rob asked for feedback on the use of the recently-published Good Governance Guidance, to give SBC opportunities to build on it further this year and showcase member stories. He also flagged other potential work in this programme during the year ahead including the development of a reporting template to help the small-to-medium businesses in our membership meet the member commitments, and webinars or events on climate-related risks, strategy, and governance disclosure.

SBC’s Communications Manager, Catherine Jeffcoat, talked about what’s coming up to help SBC members build capability around storytelling, and she presented a recap of an earlier session to members of the SBC and the Climate Leaders Coalition (CLC). This earlier session was co-presented with Rachael Cox, the CLC Communications lead and included information about what journalists are looking for around stories of businesses’ sustainability and climate change.

In addition to the increasing focus on positive stories around climate change, Catherine also signalled that SBC members may have an opportunity later this year to access storytelling workshops for their experts, and we’ll also be looking for stories to include during this year’s celebrations of 20 years since the formation of the NZ Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Video of the sessions