Smart planning for great outcomes
Mark Fitzpatrick, Senior Manager, Strategic Partnerships, Department of Conservation
“If we’ve learned anything from our climate change response, it is that when business mobilises, so too does NZ. And we need that to continue happening.
In NZ, in 2023, I believe we will see our plan of action come to life. Te Mana o Te Taiao – the Aotearoa NZ Biodiversity Strategy. Developed through a multi-year, rigorous, collaborative process, Te Mana o Te Taiao is our strategy as a country, owned by us all. While DOC holds the accountability for effective implementation, the outcomes can't be delivered by one government department. The collective effort of all Aotearoa is required.
One of the key messages within the strategy is that we can utilise the enhancement of native biodiversity as our method to achieving carbon neutrality, achieving multiple outcomes from our efforts. For New Zealand, a large component of achieving our carbon neutrality is cemented in the decisions made by businesses. Achieving multiple outcomes from our investment is just smart operating. Let’s front-end load our efforts. If we're smart and determined now, by 2050 we can be economically sound, carbon neutral and predator free by achieving the vision of Te Mana o Te Taiao – “Te Mauri Hikahika o te Taiao. The mauri of nature is vibrant and vigorous”. That would be a country we would be proud to pass on to future generations.”
Sustainability through an investment lens
Nick Morgan, Sustainable Investment Analyst, Milford Asset Management
“Sustainability is expected to remain a priority for governments, businesses and individuals in 2023. Looking through an investment lens locally, in Australasia the percentage of assets under management that are classified as Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) assets is currently much lower compared to global levels, suggesting that there is significant room for demand growth over the coming year.
To support this growth, increased transparency through new disclosure requirements will allow investors to make more informed decisions that align with their sustainability goals, directing more capital towards sustainable investments. This increased transparency will also encourage companies to continue improving their sustainability practices, creating a virtuous cycle of transparency and responsible investment.”
Businesses putting on their waste glasses
Mark Roberts, Senior Waste Planning Specialist, Auckland Council
“We are now in a phase where the discussion of recent decades has been overtaken by action and initiative. This is especially true of climate change but also of the circular economy. Organisations that are either ignoring or failing to genuinely react to this in 2023 will begin falling behind competitors and face a challenging catch-up. They will also attract unwelcome attention from stakeholders.
Waste and efficiency will benefit from the current worldwide economic, supply and energy constraints. Organisations will become more thoughtful and frugal with the materials they consume in 2023, looking to employ efficiency and circular principles to support competitiveness. Someone recently described this to me as businesses putting on their waste glasses. For some organisations this will mean a few confronting changes to attitudes.
Collaboration, even between seemingly competitive organisations, will continue to grow in 2023. Going it alone is hard. Working with the willing, sharing ideas and knowledge with a can-do attitude will get action going a lot faster and is way more fun.”
Working together for our shared future
Chloe Groser, Director Partnerships and Public Affairs, Ministry for the Environment
“As we launch into the New Year, significant weather events over the summer break have again reminded us how crucial it is to plan for a more damaging climate. New Zealand now has its first plan to support all New Zealanders – including business – to adapt, live and thrive despite climate change.
The complex technical, legal and financial issues we will face in adapting to our changing climate will be addressed in the Climate Adaptation Bill, expected to be introduced to Parliament this year.
Businesses that understand how to minimise climate risks through proactive planning will have a distinct advantage now and in the future. Climate risks need to be considered in the same way as any other business challenge. By addressing these challenges thoughtfully, businesses can improve their operations, bolster competitiveness by increasing efficiency, reduce operational costs and support business continuity and risk management. We’re proud of our partnerships that are producing tools, systems and connections, making it easier for business to make the transition. There are also significant opportunities in becoming a leader in the growing market for climate-resilient solutions.
July 2023 sees another milestone for plastic phase outs. Single-use plastic tableware, plastic produce bags and plastic straws will be history, driving the switch to reusable or sustainable alternatives.
Working in concert with the industry and businesses who signed the Plastic Packaging Declaration has enabled our phase-out programme to be as effective as possible by starting with the easily replaced plastics first, whilst working with the sector to develop ways to remove more plastics in the future. In these ways, business can help lead the change New Zealand needs to ensure a flourishing environment for 2023, and well beyond.”
Mainstreaming of sustainability will continue
Abbie Bull, Head of Sustainability and Community, Z Energy
“In recent years, we have seen the rapid rise of ESG disclosures, as mandatory climate related disclosures become imbedded in the New Zealand regulatory system and nature related financial disclosures gain momentum internationally. CFOs are paying attention as they now recognise sustainability as a core issue. This ‘mainstreaming’ of sustainability is set to continue with more organisations shifting the basics, such as emissions measurement and reporting, into BAU functions. Linked, is a growing demand for experienced sustainability professionals to support the capability building needed.
As companies appeal to the growing number of consumers who want to live a sustainable lifestyle, they face an increasing risk of negative backlash if sustainable claims cannot be supported. Consumers want better information on the impact of their purchases and to have better access to affordable options. Transport continues to be a sector that is challenging for many consumers due to the cost barrier, but 2023 will likely see an acceleration in the uptake of EVs as ownership costs come down and charging infrastructure becomes more widespread and visible.
I couldn’t make a prediction about hot topics in 2023 without mentioning nature regeneration. Following on from progress in late 2022, including both COP 15 commitments to protect “30% of land and sea by 2030” and recognition at COP 27 for the need to address the interlinked global crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, we expect to see nature elevated as a material topic and companies taking a more integrated approach to sustainability. The most progressive organisations will also look to further integrate te ao Māori and diverse perspectives into their responses.”
More companies measuring emissions
Jess Rodger, Acting Executive Manager – Sustainability, NZI
“2023 is going to see an increased focus from NZ businesses in general on climate change as a result – in large part – of the mandatory climate risk disclosures which come into force from 2024. The mandatory disclosures are going to have a big impact beyond the 200 or so companies required to disclose – especially through Scope 3 emissions reporting.
As a result of these large companies – like NZI – being required to disclose the emissions of our customers and our suppliers, a much wider range of companies will be asked to start measuring their emissions – which can only be a good outcome for New Zealand overall. We’re excited to work closely with our customers and suppliers over the next few years to help them understand their carbon footprint and how they can reduce it.”
Sharing learnings to accelerate action
Andrew Caseley, Chief Executive, EECA (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority)
“New Zealand, like many other countries, is experiencing a more challenging business environment – and the results in our latest Business Monitor reflect that all businesses are beginning to feel it. While the belief that climate change is real remains stable, the number of businesses that are prioritising action has decreased. However, I expect that as pressures ease this will pick up again, as there is still a strong willingness to act – now or in the future.
Champions from within the business sector will play a key role as New Zealand looks to put the foot down and accelerate action to a low carbon future. Larger businesses tend to be further along in their decarb journey and more engaged – including measuring their emissions. And we’ve been pleased to see a growing number of New Zealand’s industrial energy users sharing their progress.
It is critical that those who have successfully deployed scalable technology and achieved efficiencies in support of renewable energy share their wins, as well as how they overcame challenges they’ve faced. By speaking up and connecting in, business leaders will double down on the public good of their decarbonisation project.”
Focus on the ‘S’ in ESG
Nicola Airey, Head of Brand and Partnerships, Medical Assurance Society (MAS)
“As an investment and insurance provider, MAS is well aware of the devastating impact of climate change with a rise in claims due to severe weather events. And we know these events will continue to increase and be more severe in the coming years.
Business needs to think hard about how everyday operations and investments could have a positive impact on not only climate but also wider society. The move we’re seeing to focus equally on the S in ESG will only bolster the urgency of this action. Coming out of Covid, we’re seeing the rise of a whole lot of new issues that are challenging society. Access to health services, mental health awareness, adapting to new ways of working and social cohesion.
The rise of ‘conscious consumers’ means we’ll continue to see an increase in expectations that the products and services they purchase align to their values and belief systems. They also want to indirectly invest in ‘good’ - for society and the planet. Purpose driven brands like MAS, that by its very structure as a mutual and a charity, are positioned strongly in this evolving new market.
Big societal issues can be systemic, complex and overwhelming. And while it would be easier to defer responsibility to central and local government, and large corporations, we all need to play our part to resolve some of the issues. There are no quick wins, and we can’t expect meaningful change to happen fast. But if we ask the right questions and focus on solutions that align to the purpose of our business and strategic priorities, we can make a start. Actions can be big or small – ongoing changes will have the most enduring impact.
The next year needs to be one of storytelling. In sharing stories of success, no matter how small, we can raise awareness of what we’re doing and the impact of our actions to inspire others to get on board and do more. Promoting our wins will build momentum and attract like-minded customers and partners to join us. I think we will see greater collaboration between businesses in 2023 as we recognise the urgency of the issues facing us. And the need for collective, coordinated action.”
UK and New Zealand building a more secure, sustainable and prosperous future together
Iona Thomas OBE, British High Commissioner to New Zealand
“The UK and New Zealand already have a strong partnership. In 2023, it will become even stronger.
This is a crucial decade for climate action. Businesses across the global economy have a vital role to play. I hope that two developments will help strengthen UK-NZ collaboration across industry, business and innovation in achieving net zero.
Firstly, the UK-NZ Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will enter into force in the first half of this year. The environment chapter re-affirms our Paris commitments, encourages trade in low carbon goods, services and technology, and sets out the most comprehensive list of environmental goods in a trade deal to date.
Secondly, the new UK-NZ Research, Science and Innovation (RSI) Arrangement agreed between our Prime Ministers will support the development of commercial products and services to address our shared challenges including climate and agricultural emissions.
So I predict the UK-NZ partnership will be even better placed in 2023 to both tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities in the clean transition.”
Access to healthy affordable food
Sandy Botterill, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Foodstuffs Marketing & CX, Foodstuffs NZ
“At Foodstuffs, we’re passionate about being HereforNZ to ensure all New Zealanders have access to healthy affordable food, our people have meaningful work, being sustainability leaders and we support communities to thrive.
In 2023, we’ll have a strong focus on providing access to healthy affordable food. We’ll do this through what’s ranged in our retail stores and by continuing and extending our work with our incredible community partners to tackle food insecurity through foodbanks, food rescue and social supermarkets.
Outside of food affordability, based on the recent Institute of Directors Sentiment Survey 2022, climate change is the #1 priority for businesses in Aotearoa. For Foodstuffs, this means focusing on reducing our emissions from refrigeration, vehicles and power consumption, as well as limiting food waste.
We’re signatories to the Kai Commitment, a programme across food sector businesses designed to reduce food waste and emissions from food waste - and 2023 will see us bringing this commitment to life throughout our co-ops.”
Adaptability will be key
Steve Barden, Group General Manager, Alsco NZ
“As Alsco looks at 2023 through the sustainability lens, we see multiple opportunities and challenges on the horizon.
Evaluating progress on our own efforts, global supply restrictions and shortages are making our goal of 30% of fleet transitioned to electric vehicles more challenging than expected - especially around the light truck part of our fleet.
This however is offset by more rapid than expected progress on the decarbonisation of our site energy provision – our goal to move away from coal in the South Island by 2030 is well ahead of schedule, with three plants either on or transitioning to biomass, and the fourth expected to transition via partnered energy supplier shortly. While completion in 2023 is unlikely, we hope to achieve this goal a full five years ahead of schedule.
More broadly, there is uncertainty in the general business market, with a general election being held this year and significantly competing views from the differing political parties, each with a genuine chance of securing victory.
Adaptability and being able to focus on areas with governmental backing and support will be key for any large business that wishes to ensure ongoing uninterrupted progress on their sustainability goals.”
Citizen-driven climate action
Pip Wheaton, Principal Advisor Climate Action, Wellington City Council
“In 2023 we’ll see an increase in citizen-driven climate action. New Zealanders have been consistently saying that climate action is important yet most people say they don’t feel enough is being done. For us this research is reflected at a local level; in a survey of Wellingtonians last year, 90% said we need to start reducing the city’s emissions right now. People are getting climate savvier too – climate literacy is increasing and that means higher expectations of business, government and leaders, with reducing tolerance for greenwashing and incremental change.
Yet despite gaining a better understanding of how climate change will affect Aotearoa New Zealand in the years ahead, people are not clear about the solutions available so they often don’t act in ways that make a measurable difference.
We need everyone to be active participants in the shifts required at an individual level alongside significant structural and systemic change, so in April we’re launching a region-wide campaign to help navigate climate action. Our goal is to empower everyone – at home, at work, in their community – to take impactful action to protect the people, places and things they love. We’ll connect climate action with positive outcomes for all.”
Re-action and keeping focused
Stacey Hitchcock, GM Investment and Deputy Chief Executive, Te Puna Umanga/Venture Taranaki
“We are all acutely aware of the economic uncertainty and challenges that 2023 will bring, and this impact will be felt differently across sectors. But, if the last two years have taught us anything, it’s how to be adaptable, resilient, and find opportunity within challenges.There will need to be continued focus on ensuring we work closely with our industries and businesses and provide support centred on growth and innovation, so we all get through the tougher times together.
However, this will be coupled with continued development in disruptive innovation, investment, and development to build a strong, resilient and sustainable future as the drive continues towards Net Zero 2050.
Areas such as renewable energy capability, with offshore renewable energy development, are one of those focus areas. Another here in Taranaki is our Branching Out project, backed by local and central government, to progress with commercialising food and fibre diversification opportunities.
2023 - Support through the challenges and keep focus to progress our long-term goals.”