2014 NZ Election: SBN position on election issues.

The Sustainable Business Network is calling on the incoming NZ Government to become a global leader in sustainability. SBN believes we need bold and visionary government with policies that support innovation and help NZ business take a lead in a positive, future-focused economy.

This resource summarises some of the sustainable business activity already taking place across many of the key election issues: climate change, energy, transport, water quality, investment, education, jobs, agriculture and social equity. It includes SBN’s position on each of these issues together with details of sustainable business activity already taking place within the SBN network.

Click here to read SBN’s media release: ‘Call for New Zealand Government to become a global leader in sustainability’.

THE ISSUES

CLIMATE CHANGE

The issue

Climate change is well underway and if we continue as we are, by 2030 our net emissions will rise to 160% above 1990 levels (Ministry of Environment projections), which is almost double 1990 levels.

SBN position

We believe the Government should commit to a progressive climate change policy (either by strengthening the existing Emissions Trading Scheme or a similar Carbon Tax) that reinvests income into low carbon activities and industries. This includes investing in clean technologies, renewable energy, and smart transport options to make it easier for people to move away from transport powered by fossil fuels.

What’s already happening in the SBN network

  • Two of our four transformation areas are directly related to climate change – renewables and mega efficiency. Transformation areas are issues we consider to be critical to New Zealand and they are the focus of our activities and projects.
  • We have a work stream underway on Accelerating Smart Transport in NZ, which is working with member businesses to identify and accelerate smart transport opportunities. Support partners in this project include Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, Opus, Aecom and Fulton Hogan.  Specific projects will be announced shortly.
  • We have a work stream on Accelerating the Circular Economy in NZ. Partners in this project include INZIDE Commercial and Philips, with support partners Fulton Hogan, Apex, Nelmac and WasteMinz.
  • For 10 years, we have run a carbon offsetting programme called Carbon4Good. This voluntary (non-verified) programme calculates carbon emissions and converts them to money which has funded community organisations to plant over 150,000 native trees on at-risk land.

 

ENERGY

The issue

New Zealand currently holds one of the leading positions globally in renewable energy sources for electricity use. As with most nations, however, our economy is dependent on fossil fuels. Many systems are built around inefficient, dated practices.

SBN position

To increase the resilience of our economy, we need policies that increase investment in renewable sources of energy, and far more efficient use of energy. We need policies that specifically examine Renewables, Mega efficiency and the Circular Economy.

  • Renewables: Shifting New Zealand’s energy to fully renewable sources will require clever design, new technologies and greater collaboration between businesses. We’ll need innovative strategies to improve the production and distribution of renewable energy, as well as a revolution in transportation or mobility away from fossil fuels.

The vision of our Renewables transformation area is that by 2050 Aotearoa NZ is self-sufficient with all energy derived from renewable sources.

  • Mega efficiency: smart thinking is needed to significantly optimise the resource use of businesses and industries. Mega efficiency involves a shift away from traditional means of operation within industries towards new business models of production, ownership and consumption.

The vision of our Mega efficiency transformation area is that by 2050 Aotearoa NZ is a world leader in the optimal use of all precious resources.

  • The Circular Economy provides a transformative opportunity for resource management, a shift which is desperately required in a world of finite resources and a planet suffering from the impact of the ‘take-make-dispose’ linear economy.

A shift to material optimisation from simple ‘waste management’ to resource maximisation will create unparalleled opportunities for environmentally responsible businesses and the opportunity for ongoing wealth creation. By decoupling growth from resource constraints and harnessing business leaders’ inherent drive for efficiency we can accelerate the creation of a circular economy.

What’s already happening the SBN network

  • Two of our four transformation areas are related to energy – renewables and mega efficiency (see above).
  • We have a work stream on Accelerating the Circular Economy in NZ. Partners in this project include Inzide Commercial and Philips, with support partners Fulton Hogan, Apex, Nelmac and WasteMinz.

 

TRANSPORT

The issue

New Zealand currently holds one of the leading positions globally in renewable energy sources for electricity use. However in the efforts to move towards sourcing all our energy from renewable sources, one of our biggest challenges is transport. Almost all the energy sourced to power our national fleet is non-renewable. The current situation has exposed us to the environmental risks associated with greenhouse gases and climate change, and also jeopardises the security of our energy supply and dependency as a nation on the global energy markets.

SBN position

We believe we need a shift to smart transport. Nationally a range of pioneering transport options exist which may have the potential for scale, replication and mass promotion. Business opportunities exist now in capitalising on emerging technology, integration with home energy systems, and better utilisation of our national fleet.  We need policies and practices that will help realise these opportunities.

What’s already happening in the SBN network

  • SBN has a work stream on Accelerating Smart Transport in New Zealand to identify and accelerate smart transport opportunities. Support partners in this project include Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, Opus, Aecom and Fulton Hogan.

 

WATER QUALITY

The issue

New Zealand waterways are in crisis and are costing us in terms of degraded water quality, erosion, and reduced aquatic productivity. This is now impacting on broader food systems and the quality of our tourist experience and export branding.

SBN position

We believe that increased riparian planting (planting alongside waterways) is a key first step in improving our waterways. We also believe that if New Zealanders have a stake in cleaning up our waterways, the outcome is likely to be more successful.

What’s already happening in the SBN network

SBN is developing a new solution called the Million Metres Streams project, which aims to plant one million metres of waterways. We are collaborating with Enspiral to build a new crowd-funding website aimed at increasing the scale and speed of re-vegetation by increasing both support and funding into the existing restoration infrastructure.  Partners include: Trees for Survival, Sustainable Coastlines, Auckland Council, Department of Conservation, Wellington Council, QEII Trust and Te Whangai Trust.

 

INVESTMENT

The issue

Our current financial system supports investment in fossil fuels. For example, most investment funds, including KiwiSaver funds, have little to no sustainability criteria. This means that when fund managers select companies to invest in, they don’t include environmental or social factors as part of their investment criteria.  

SBN position

We believe that by investing in more sustainable companies and systems, we can make a real difference towards progressing sustainability in New Zealand. This means investing in clean technologies and divesting from (stopping investing in) fossil fuels.

What’s already happening in the SBN network

As part of our Sustainable Investment project, SBN has hosted workshops around the country, which have shown a demand for a sustainable KiwiSaver fund that invests in improving our environment and society, and invests in the future whilst also providing good financial returns. 

We have distributed a survey to measure demand for a sustainable KiwiSaver fund and determine a set of positive criteria most important to people, which would align well with our aim of NZ being a model sustainable nation. When the results have been analysed we will present them to the finance community and work with willing parties to find a solution.

This project is engaging individuals who have KiwiSaver, businesses via their default KiwiSaver provider, and the investment community to look at how we can create a resilient, sustainable future through responsible investing. SBN will continue working with our members and the finance sector to create more progressive investment options and to develop new investor transparency systems. 

 

EDUCATION & JOBS

The issue

Throughout our education sectors we’re not developing the skills this country needs as we shift to a 21st century economy. The skills we need in our future workforce are very different to those of only 10-20 years ago. They include such new skills as understanding alternative energy systems in homes and workplaces, solar panel installation, alternative transport systems, understanding the value of social issues in business so they are embedded as part of business proposition, and communications and marketing that have honesty and integrity.

SBN position                      

We believe we need investment in an education system that will grow the interest and skills required for a sustainable economy. This will include integrating sustainability into school and tertiary curricula. Professional development across industry sectors should also recognise the place sustainability will play in the new economy. We believe the issues are systemic and require a deeper look at how to up-skill the teaching force, and provide the support and inspiration they need to stay up to date with the rapidly changing world.

What’s already happening in the SBN network

  • Our work stream on Embedding Social Value into Business Models is identifying key areas where businesses can enhance the social impact that they are having through all elements of their operations.  One of these areas is around optimising existing community engagement programmes, volunteer opportunities and key partnerships that businesses already have, to meet the skill gaps that are going to become critical issues for businesses.  We will be working with businesses and strategic partners to create a set of programmes that meet the employment opportunities of the future. Our partner in this work stream is Hubbards, with Chorus as a support partner. The work stream aligns with the work of Auckland STEM Alliance.

 

AGRICULTURE

The issue

Globally, the industrial food system is in crisis.  All aspects of the food system are affected – ranging from the growing and production of food to its distribution, consumption and disposal.

The challenges we face are three-fold: environmental, social and economic. With a growing global population and increasingly degraded ecosystems, we require fundamental systemic shifts, widespread education and training, and a shift to a decentralised agricultural system and food economy.

SBN position

This shift will require new skills to grow food using an agriculture model which is biologically based, diverse, decentralised and knowledge intensive, while also distributing value and income. Massive opportunities exist around improving agricultural production techniques, renewable energy, transport, packaging and storage infrastructure, as well as informing and influencing consumer and commercial behaviour.

What’s already happening in the SBN network

  • Our work stream on Restoring New Zealand’s Food System is looking at the food system in New Zealand. We will be working with primary industry, producers, processors, distributors, marketers and consumers to work collaboratively to redesign New Zealand’s food system and create market solutions with better outcomes. Our partner in this work is Auckland Council, with a host of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises involved in the value chain of food. 

SOCIAL EQUITY

The issue

New Zealand currently has a high disparity between rich and poor which is outlined in the 2014 Salvation Army report titled ‘Striking a Better Balance’. The Salvation Army remains deeply concerned at the lack of progress in reducing child poverty, family violence, the harmful use of alcohol, and the failure to address criminal re-offending and serious crime.  

SBN position

We believe that all businesses have an impact on the community that they work in. That community is made up of employees, supply chain, physical location, products and services, and existing community investment programmes.  SBN wants all businesses to ensure that the impact that they are having on their communities is positive and that they are creating social value by being in operation. 

We believe we need policies that encourage affordability and equity, which help to ensure business meets its community needs, such as: meaningful employment, fair pay and conditions, and affordability of housing, health, energy and water.

What’s already happening in the SBN network

  • Our work stream on Embedding Social Value into Business Models aims to help companies understand how they can meaningfully embed social value into their operations, and how doing this properly results in a stronger business.   What this means is that businesses understand the issues that are relevant to their communities (including their staff and supply chains); how they can have an impact on these issues; and how they can create business strategies that are mutually beneficial for business and community. 

By looking at how businesses create social value throughout their operations, and understanding the interplay of relationships involved, there is the opportunity to create a new generation of businesses. These businesses will have a consideration of the material social issues for them, which can be used as a platform for innovation and growth. Our partner in this work stream is Hubbards, with Chorus as a support partner.