Guest blog: Sustainability - an approach whose time has come

30 May 2019
David Benattar - Chief Sustainability Officer, The Warehouse Group

As a founding member celebrating the Sustainable Business Council (SBC) turning 20 years old, The Warehouse Group’s Chief Sustainability Officer David Benattar says the Council embodies an idea whose time has come.

As someone who was involved in the World Business Council for Sustainable Development 15 years ago, Benattar says today’s business climate is as different as our actual climate, and that’s driving change.

“Twenty years ago it was much more difficult to get an audience on these sort of issues,” he says. “Thank God everyone is waking up to the urgency of the environmental challenges we face, and that people are increasingly looking to business leadership as part of the solution.”

TWG’s founder Sir Stephen Tindall’s passionate commitment to sustainable business is what drove The Group’s founding membership of SBC years ago.

Benattar says SBC is a collaborative business leadership group that really understands the practicalities of business.

“Sometimes the ‘strategy world’ suffers from a poor understanding of what it takes to implement something in business,” says Benattar. “SBC members are very experienced in the corporate sector with a solid understanding of how to make things work.

Now operating out of BusinessNZ, the SBC supports companies in their journey to becoming sustainable businesses.

Benattar says the Climate Leaders Coalition is a world-class model of how to involve business leaders in making a big difference on a public issue of vital importance.

He adds that SBC membership provides an environment where he himself can be challenged to consider new and different approaches to solving problems.

“I think business leaders today are coming to understand and to integrate sustainable development goals,” he says.

“The whole world is waking up, and business is at the heart of this transformation,” says Benattar.

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the formation of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development (NZBCSD) which formed as a coalition of business leaders to promote sustainable business. In 2002, the NZBCSD represented New Zealand at the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development. That year, it launched triple bottom line reporting guidelines. In 2009 BusinessNZ formed its Sustainability Forum, and in 2012 NZBCSD merged with that to create the Sustainable Business Council (SBC), part of BusinessNZ. In 2018, SBC launched the Climate Leaders Coalition, and by the end of the year had welcomed 100 members.