Annual Council Meeting highlights

29 Sep 2021
Sustainable Business Council

We held our Annual Council Meeting online again this year, on 29 September. This highlights video encapsulates some reflections on the year that has been and an overview of key priorities for the year ahead - with Karen Silk, SBC Chair and Mike Burrell, SBC Executive Director. We also hear from Claire Walker, Chief People & Culture Officer, Sky City and Wayne McNee, CEO, LIC - both SBC advisory board members sharing their aspirations for a New Zealand where business, people and nature thrive together.


Karen Silk: Sustainable business practice is good business practice, and that's a point that's been increasingly acknowledged across the New Zealand business community and government and so it's been a really busy year for SBC.

Over the past 12 months, SBC, alongside the Climate Leaders Coalition have continued to advocate on climate action with government, with submissions both to the incoming government on climate action priorities, and the Climate Change Commission.

We launched the low carbon freightway path earlier this year and are now standing up the next iteration and scoping similar collaborations across our members for process heat and agriculture.

Mike Burrell: We've been really impressed with how people have continued to focus on the medium and long term even as they've had to focus on the immediate survival of their companies and thriving in this quite challenging environment.

Fundamental to our strategy has been this focus on leadership and that will continue. Along with maintaining our current program of events, advocacy, collaborations, and training programs, we'll begin to up our game in terms of thought leadership and you've begun to see that over the last six months, that will include raising the public profile of the SBC membership through a strengthened and renewed communication program.

Climate action is accelerating, and it needs to. As the IPCC's sixth assessment report showed, if we don't accelerate our action now we face the very real prospect of a three to four degree world.

The government is listening to what we're saying, and that's really down to you, it's down to the credibility that you bring to this brand called SBC and to CLC as well.

In the year ahead we'll build on the work to move business beyond diversity and inclusion to support members leadership, and build skills and capabilities to operationalise just transition pathways within their organisations.

The thing that we've been trying to impress on the engagement with government is that collaboration is the thing that's going to be most critically important here. No one party can transform an economy and do it in a way that creates as little disruption as you possibly can.

What lessons did you take from the past 18 months? Looking at the crisis we're going through, has that changed your view on how we would address the climate crisis?

Claire Walker: I'm really heartened that our SBC vision refers to a fair equitable and inclusive transition to a zero emissions economy, and and that's something that i take real heart from that. We understand at SBC that people are clearly at the center of that. People will only change their behaviour when they see what is in it for them. People are motivated by understanding that there's a benefit to them, and I know that people don't change their behaviour when you take a really punitive approach. So it's it's about tapping into the why, and the why is different for different communities, so you really do have to take the time to to listen and genuinely understand what the motivating factors are.

Mike Burrell: What's the next frontier of sustainability, what sort of issues do you think will be big in 2022 that you're preparing for now?

Wayne McNee: There's so much on at the moment, so many challenges that we need to really keep up the ambition, really keep up the focus, work closely with government, show leadership so business is prepared to show leadership in this area and keep right at the forefront of that kind of engagement,  and show government and whoever is in power that we want to work together.

These are long-term challenges with long-term solutions, and reflecting on what Claire said, really bringing people with us on this journey and helping them understand the benefits for them and their children and their children's children.

Karen Silk: It's hard work as we all know to shift the dial on sustainability but honestly the momentum that we've seen over the last two to three years in particular, in New Zealand and within the business community in New Zealand is huge, and it is largely down to the contribution of people like yourselves, so not only thank you to the SBC team and the Advisory Board, but thank you to you our members for everything that you do every day in your organisations.