Climate change: how can we effect a sea change?

11:56 am on 24 November 2015

This conference gives New Zealand the opportunity to address one of the most pressing and complex challenges of our time.

Sanford chief executive Volker Kuntzsch.

Sanford chief executive Volker Kuntzsch. Photo: SANFORD

Our government has announced it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, and now business leaders must ask themselves: how can we transform our corporate culture to safeguard the future of our environment and economy?

It's a global issue which demands a global response. We must lead by example, and at an individual, company, industry and New Zealand Inc level.

We're lucky to operate in one of the most pristine and sustainably-managed fisheries in the world, yet we can't escape the significant impacts of climate change - rising sea water levels, temperatures and ocean acidification.

(In this series we will publish opinion pieces from Greenpeace, Sanford, the Motor Industry Association, 350 Aotearoa, Mainfreight, Federated Farmers and the Environmental Defence Society. Air New Zealand, Fonterra, Holcim and Genesis Energy were invited to contribute, but declined.)

New Zealand is a country surrounded by, and deeply connected to, water. With the fourth largest exclusive economic zone in the world we have to lead the way towards the responsible utilisation of its resources and the protection of this important environment.

As guardians of our oceans we must step back from day-to-day operations to engage in big-picture, long-term thinking and articulate a value-based vision across all sectors connected to the ocean for how we protect our marine environment and retain New Zealand's leadership position and share of voice - at the UN Climate Change Conference and beyond.


Gurnard Photo: Sanford

Sanford and its people care deeply about the sea and beautiful New Zealand seafood, and we're committed to fishing with care. While any brand can claim that corporate social responsibility is equally as important as profitability, the health of our business is inextricably linked to the health of our oceans.

To mitigate the effects of climate change, Sanford publicly reports our emission reductions through independent framework the Global Reporting Initiative and has incorporated Environmental Management Systems (ISO 14001) since 2000. We're exploring partnerships with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority to develop clear energy usage targets and Sustainable Coastlines to minimise the impact of our operations.

We've already made good progress. New technologies such as Precision Seafood Harvesting and SPATnz will not only deliver high-quality, sustainable seafood; the successful partnership between government, industry and research and development on projects of such size and scope sets a precedent for future collaborations of this kind and proves efforts to care for the environment and combat climate change need not be made in silos.

* Sanford chief executive Volker Kuntzsch is a marine scientist and was this year elected director on the advisory board for the Sustainable Business Council. Sanford is New Zealand's largest and longest-established fishing business, holds 23 percent of New Zealand's fishing quota and is one of New Zealand's top 50 listed companies.

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