Industry collaboration to grow sustainability in New Zealand

By Sarah Holden

Oxygen Consulting, in conjunction with the Sustainable Business Network, the Sustainable Business Council and Auckland University of Technology, has launched a ground-breaking piece of research investigating the role of the sustainability professional in New Zealand.

Very little is known about sustainability roles in New Zealand, which can range from dedicated positions through to integrated responsibilities within existing roles to address the organisation’s social, environmental or economic risks and opportunities.

Yet these roles are gaining an increasing presence in many organisations, something which has been observed by both Sustainable Business Network and Sustainable Business Council.

“Over the last twenty years, sustainability has moved from being a grass roots movement in organisations to executives and directors now having a fiscal responsibility for it.  With this we’re seeing more of our business members asking about where these roles should sit in their organisation, their remit and support requirements”, says Rachel Brown, CEO of the Sustainable Business Network.

Mike Burrell, Executive Director of SBC says that “businesses are increasingly embedding sustainability into their strategies and business practice. We’ve also seen an increase in the number of dedicated sustainability roles coming through our membership – this is evident through their increasing participation in our events and development programmes, and the number and diversity of sustainability roles we are advertising through our channels. I welcome this research.”

Insights on New Zealand Sustainability Professionals seeks to shed light on this rapidly evolving profession, the capabilities, enablers and succession pathways to these roles.

“The overall purpose of this research is to help grow the sustainability profession.  It’s about removing the mystery of these roles so that they can become more accessible to individuals, and give organisations a basis and structure for establishing and supporting them”, says Sarah Holden, Director of Oxygen Consulting.

The research will also identify the capabilities and technical expertise necessary in sustainability positions, which will assist in guiding academic pathways towards careers in sustainability.

“Sustainability is such a vast subject area and if we can improve the way in which it is integrated within our programme of learning, then students are going to be better equipped for a career in sustainability,” remarks Marjo Lips-Wiersma, Professor of Ethics and Sustainability Leadership, Auckland University of Technology.

The research has been approved by the Auckland University of Technology Ethics Committee (AUTEC Reference number 20/35) and will involve an online survey open to people who have sustainability as part or all of their role who work in New Zealand organisations.  The survey will run from 18 February 2020 through to 15 March 2020 and information will be gathered at an industry group level only, to enable candid participation.  Results will be published in an insights report that will be free to download from the Oxygen Consulting website.

To find out more about participating in this research, please click here, or to go straight to the survey, click here.