19 Apr 2019

Green goals for companies: 'No more business as usual'

9:18 pm on 19 April 2019

The Sustainable Business Council is urging companies to look to environmental data before making business decisions.


Consumers are putting pressure on businesses to consider the environment before they make decisions. Photo: 123RF

Yesterday, the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ released Environment Aotearoa, which gives an overview of all environmental matters including biodiversity, land use and water quality. It painted a bleak picture of the state of New Zealand's rivers, native species and pollution.

It said thousands of species are on the brink of extinction, 90 percent of the country's wetlands were drained, 94 percent of urban rivers were not swimmable and native forest which used to cover 80 percent of the country, now covered only a quarter.

No caption

Abbie Reynolds Photo: Supplied / YouTube

Council executive director Abbie Reynolds said some businesses need to change the way they do things.

"The scale of some of the challenges that we need to navigate as businesses in the future are going to require us to work in different ways.

"So, when we talk about climate change and the scale of the transformation we need to make. We really do need to be thinking about it - it's no more business as usual. That does take a lot for business leaders to get their heads around."

Ms Reynolds said most businesses knew they needed the environment in order to operate.

"In New Zealand, we rely on our natural environment for our source of competitive advantage overseas. So, if we don't understand the risks to our environment or to the climate, we can't manage that risk as it comes down the line."

She said businesses were getting better at taking the environment into consideration.

"What I would observe is that there's been a real uptake in businesses taking sustainability seriously over the last probably two or three years.

"Businesses are starting to say, actually, we're doing sustainability quite well. But how do we link that to what's important for New Zealand or what's important for the world? So, they're taking data from reports like this and using it to to help them set their targets."

She said a lot of businesses saw it as a positive challenge.

"I'm seeing plenty that I have been genuinely astonished by, like some of the CEOs I work with in the Climate Leaders Coalition and how much they are starting to think about how they reshape their businesses and how quickly they need to do it.

"It's not all doom and gloom."

The change was largely driven by consumers.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs