While the pandemic continues to create challenges, responding to Covid-19 is also providing opportunities. There is a strong theme of collaboration that is helping organisations to survive and even thrive. And, while Covid-19 may be dominating the headlines our sustainability soothsayers say there is a growing focus on climate action, reducing waste and restoring nature.
Climate action on the rise
Andrew Caseley, Chief Executive, EECA
We’re seeing real momentum building around business transformation, especially bigger businesses, and I think 2022 will see that continue to grow. Our latest Business Monitor, which surveys business attitudes and actions around climate change every six months, shows after a dip in the middle of 2021, business belief in, and action on, climate change is rebounding. In terms of EECA’s own work with large energy users and emitters, we’re seeing unprecedented demand for our decarbonisation programmes and co-funding.
The motivation to decarbonise is in part being led offshore by multinationals requiring supply chain visibility, reinforced by a rise in consumer scrutiny. We know people want to see that the businesses they buy from are taking action, but if we’re going to get the momentum we need, more consumers really need to start asking questions and voting with their wallets and 2022 will see more taking this action.
Lee Stewart, Head of Co-operative Sustainability, Fonterra 2022 will see the further rise of the conscious consumer, increased action by government both locally and abroad, mobilisation of sustainable finance at a scale never seen before, and the realisation that now more than ever, Aotearoa New Zealand is part of a global community where we all have a role to play.
This will manifest in many ways. More scrutiny will be placed by customers on their supply chains, with a significant focus going on accounting for their scope 3 emissions. By mid-2022 we will start to see a raft of New Zealand Government regulations and reforms come into play that looks a bit like a bowl of alphabet soup - HWEN, ERP, RMA, ETS, NBA, SPA, CAA, Three Waters, Essential Freshwater and Waste. And we will see large and listed companies and the finance community publicly disclosing their climate risks coming into 2023.
Based on COP26 pledges of $130tn, I expect to see global capital moving to support climate mitigation, adaption and social issues, and then sustainable food systems taking a front seat at COP27 in Egypt.
All this will place more pressure on the sustainability credentials of goods and services, with one thing I’m very certain of…the pace of change in these areas will only increase and may catch some organisations by surprise.
Adaptation and mitigation
Jess Rodger, Sustainability Manager, NZI One of the really positive things to come out of 2021 for us at NZI – and in the wider IAG group – was helping put an increased focus on adapting to climate change, something we expect to see continue into 2022.
In the middle of last year, we held two events for businesses focused on climate change adaptation, and at one of these events Climate Change Minister James Shaw declared 2022 to be ‘the year of adaptation’. With the National Adaptation Plan due in August there will be an opportunity for businesses to get involved in this discussion and turn their minds to how they need to adapt to a changing climate.
I know some people are worried that having a focus on adaptation means we’re ‘giving up’ on reducing carbon emissions – but this is far from true. Here at NZI, we are focused as much on reducing our footprint as we are on adapting – but we are aware as an insurer of the impacts climate change is already having around the country, especially in terms of severe weather events and flooding. And we know these events will only increase in severity in the coming years.
So, in 2022 New Zealand businesses need to be focused on both facets of climate change – reducing the impact you’re having on the climate and managing the impact the climate is having on you.
Collaboration key to success
Steve Barden, Group General Manager, Alsco Whilst 2022 comes with a high degree of uncertainty, businesses have adapted well over the past couple of years, and the focus on carbon reduction and overall sustainability has not waned. I believe that focus will continue into 2022.
Through 2021 there was some significant progress in business collaboration, and this must continue in 2022 to ensure New Zealand stays relevant and is a feasible option for further sustainable innovation. New Zealand’s scale supports our early adopter approach, and this will ensure we do not get left in the wake of other countries.
The development and migration to biomass for heat generation will continue through 2022 and this will create some potential supply and demand issues. However, the changeover will become more viable as alternative fuel sources continue to experience price increases.
Vehicle electrification is an area that will continue to grow, and it will mean increased pressure on infrastructure to ensure the demands are suitably met. Particularly exciting for 2022 is the prospect of more viable options for electric vehicle supply, notably in the commercial sector.
As the costs of everyday items continue to increase, I do hope there is not a migration to cheap, unsustainable options. This rings true for both the commercial and home sectors, and I truly trust we have moved on from this narrowed minded approach.
Protecting and restoring nature
Geoff Ensor, Director Business and International, Department of Conservation Like every business in New Zealand, we are working and thinking differently in the face of the changes wrought by the pandemic. Covid-19 continues to cause hardship and anxiety but perhaps one silver lining has been the impetus it has given to working flexibly and using virtual meetings as the norm rather than the exception.
Another outcome has been Jobs for Nature which continues to help those in need, while also building a battalion of passionate and skilled conservationists whose contribution will be valued well into the future. So good news. But our biodiversity crisis remains unchanged with the majority of our native species in decline as we tackle conservation challenges from the mountains to the sea.
Looking to 2022, I believe and sincerely hope to see the increasingly singular focus on reducing carbon complemented by more action to protect and restore nature. Action for each is critical, but as with all complex systems, a singular focus on either is fatally flawed. For example, healthy natural ecosystems protect communities from climate change impacts like extreme weather, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) notes that nature-based solutions could help address nearly 40% of our climate change mitigation.
In 2022, the world will agree and adopt a suite of ambitious new global biodiversity targets, several of which highlight the critical links between healthy nature and a healthy society. Many New Zealand businesses are doing great work now to help revive our nature; perhaps 2022 will see this increase markedly as the international spotlight turns to biodiversity – that would be New Zealand leadership.
Putting words into action
Lisa Daniell, Director Climate Change Mitigation, Ministry for the Environment We’re heralding a year that will see foundations set for a more climate-resilient New Zealand. One of the leading tools to help reduce emissions is New Zealand’s first Emissions Reduction Plan which will be released in May. This will be the first economy-wide plan outlining the Government’s approach to mitigating climate change under New Zealand’s Zero Carbon framework.
New Zealand is developing an equally far-reaching plan to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The National Adaptation Plan is an all of government strategy and action plan for 2022 to 2026 which responds to the risks raised in the National Climate Change Risk Assessment. It will be agreed in August.
The Government, however, only holds certain levers and can’t alone achieve the scale of change that is needed, so collaboration and partnerships with the private sector, iwi and Māori, communities, NGOs and civil society will be a big focus in giving life to both the Emissions Reduction and National Adaptation plans. An example is the He Waka Eke Noa Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership where government, primary sector organisations and iwi and other Māori groups are collaborating to equip farmers and growers with the knowledge, tools and support they need to reduce emissions and adapt to a changing climate.
Moves towards reducing waste emissions and circular economy principles will continue into 2022 with proposed inclusion in the Emissions Reduction Plan. We will also see the expansion of the waste disposal levy, a new, innovative and bold waste strategy, product stewardship schemes for tyres and large batteries and a likely consultation on a Container Return Scheme.
Brenda Won, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Foodstuffs Marketing & CX In 2021, the theme of ‘Thinking Local’ came sharply into focus for us, and we see this as a major influence into 2022. As two 100% locally owned and operated co-operatives, Foodstuffs North Island and Foodstuffs South Island, ‘Thinking Local’ is how we solve our problems and do business and this year it has come even more to the fore. Seeing the impact of Covid-19 on local businesses and communities makes this local support even more imperative.
In 2021 one of our Auckland Distribution Centres became home to New Zealand’s largest rooftop array of solar panels. ‘Thinking Local’ in 2022 will see us looking to our own backyard and our people even more for finding and implementing solutions around energy and materials – focusing on renewables and reusables, pooling energy and materials and upcycling to reduce the reliance on less sustainable imports and finite natural resources.
Working in partnership
Sara Zwart, Principal Regenerative Design Lead, Eke Panuku Eke Panuku is charged with urban regeneration across Tāmaki Makaurau. We don’t take this responsibility lightly; however, we know we are not alone in this task. Put simply – things happen better when we share the load and work closely with those most connected to our places and communities. One of the most positive things to emerge from 2021 is our growing partnership with Mana Whenua.
Through whakapapa, Mana Whenua have an intrinsic relationship to the land and an innate understanding of the interconnectivity of all things. Further to this, they have a deep sense of kaitiakitanga/guardianship. This makes them uniquely placed to guide a more holistic and regenerative approach to urban development. We have several projects underway across Auckland which are shaped and guided by our iwi partners, underpinned by this unique worldview. We were proud in 2021 to see this approach recognised on a world stage.
2022 will be an exciting year for Eke Panuku as a number of our locations are shifting from planning to implementation. This partnership approach provides an invaluable foundation for us to work not just with Mana Whenua, but with our local communities to create amazing places. Together we are better.
Creating strong relationships
Jemma McCowan, General Manager Brands and Sustainability, New Zealand King Salmon 2021 saw more ups and downs than we could have imagined pre-Covid, but it’s surprising how much we’ve achieved despite the lockdowns, a strangled supply chain, and increased pressure on costs and resources.
From New Zealand King Salmon’s perspective, the most positive thing that came out of 2021 was the opportunity to strengthen relationships with our community partners through the application in progress for our first open ocean farm – coined Blue Endeavour.
Adopting a consultative process with all interested parties before the Blue Endeavour application hearing in Marlborough has helped to clear up uncertainties and identify opportunities for collaboration. We hope more attention on these partnerships, particularly with iwi, will make us a better business overall with more diverse thinking.
The Blue Endeavour process has also strengthened our understanding of the science behind best-practice salmon farming in the open ocean. We are already proud to farm what we think is a high nutrition, low impact protein for the future, but we want to challenge ourselves to keep stepping up to the next level. We hope this new farming model will contribute significantly to New Zealand’s ambition for a thriving, sustainable aquaculture industry built on delicious, high value, branded seafood products.