2020 Annual Council Meeting highlights

14 Oct 2020
Sustainable Business Council

At our 2020 Annual Council Meeting, we heard from Transpower, DB Breweries and The Warehouse Group, as well as Karen Silk, Advisory Board Chair, and Mike Burrell.

Highlights from the event


Mike Burrell (Executive Director, SBC)

I'm just going to focus on the strategy and many of you of course have seen this strategy but today I really wanted to talk about the where to from here in terms of the strategy what we needed to do now, and this is what we heard loud and clear from you our members was to be a pacesetter to get out in front and to show the leadership that's necessary for this next stage which is really all about providing implementation leadership to take forward the transition to a zero-carbon future and the thriving people element that goes with that.

The leadership component is probably the most important component of all of it because without it nothing else is going to happen and this is all about championing New Zealand businesses to be at the forefront of environmental and social sustainability that our members are change makers they are inspiring other businesses to go further by leading by example.

Peter Simons (Managing Director, DB Breweries)

Leadership regarding sustainability needs to be very well embedded through the organisation if it's just run by the corporate affairs director and the managing director, that will not make the change so really embedding sustainability through your whole organisation and really lead that from the top is absolutely core to make the difference

David Benattar (Chief Sustainability Officer, The Warehouse Group)

But to me what Covid-19 showed was the relevance of sustainability today and because surprisingly at a time of great crisis you would have expected people to shrink it back down on their personal needs but in fact what every insight shows is that customers are even demanding more sustainability practice from business they're asking for more sustainable products

Peter Simons 

Because sustainability and the challenges we have needs quite a broad view and we need to include everybody in the conversation and find the right solutions so if we're not an inclusive business or not an inclusive society, some of the sustainability challenges that we'll have, we don't have the answers we will not be able to address them

Alison Andrew

So the other thing I think is very helpful is in thinking around uncertainty often people think about binary one/or, you know the Or problem I try to encourage people to think about the And. So I said before we must address the Covid issues and the economic damage and how we rebuild AND we have to address decarbonising and making the necessary investments so how do we solve both those problems how do we find solutions that actually build back greener build back more sustainably

Peter Simons 

That green passion is so strong here and there's so much innovation happening I'm always thinking now how do we use that opportunity of Covid to almost make New Zealand the Silicon Valley of sustainability.

David Benattar 

They say never waste a good crisis, well if that's the case then we should certainly use the moment of Covid-19 to accelerate the delivery of sustainability in our businesses, for me the one lesson is consistency which means consistently educating our stakeholders about the meaning of sustainability, never give up.

Alison Andrew 

I think it's about helping people frame it as an opportunity, New Zealand can do amazing things, we've already got quite a big kickstart on the rest of the world so how do we turn it into more of an opportunity, how do we make sure we don't leave our population behind so we can address some of our social problems as well,  but I think that we also have to work with those communities such as the young who really want us to get in there and make a difference.

David Benattar 

One of the key benefits of using SBC as a peer support network where you can discuss the questions or the experience and finding sort of supports, technical support but also support from just your peers to go through these difficulties.

Peter Simons

In sustainability there is always a win-win, people always think somebody is losing here I believe there's a win-win - a win-win for us win-win for consumers win-win for New Zealand.

Mike Burrell 

The eyes of the world are upon us. If a small country like New Zealand can't take action, then how can countries and developing countries, people in developing countries take action we have it all before us, we certainly can take action and we should be bold and we should achieve.

Karen Silk (SBC Chair & GM Experience Hub, Westpac)

New Zealand has a real opportunity to reset our future but we can only do this through the actions of all of us so I'd strongly encourage you to continue to collaborate, work with us on bringing the vision that we've created to life because that gives the greatest opportunity to help New Zealand move forward from here.