Faith in sustainability targets

Environment Minister David Parker yesterday addressed a Dunedin conference on environmental...
Environment Minister David Parker yesterday addressed a Dunedin conference on environmental sustainability and organisational performance. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
New Zealand’s success in countering Covid-19 has strengthened Environment Minister David Parker’s view that our environmental sustainability targets can also be achieved.

Mr Parker was one of four main speakers to address a conference at the University of Otago yesterday focusing on the pressures and opportunities for businesses facing sustainability challenges.

An international study had highlighted the early, comprehensive and sustained lockdown which New Zealand had adopted against the Covid-19 pandemic, and the success of our strategy, he said.

He told about 40 people that running such a public discussion could not have happened in much of the world, including in much of the United States and Europe.

During a question and answer session, a questioner said part of New Zealand’s Covid-19 success had been the clear way the community had been told what must be done, what must not be done and where there was scope for discretion.

In an interview, Mr Parker said he was encouraged by our success with Covid-19, and the same mix of Government action and community support could also achieve success with our carbon-neutral target, which was aimed at countering climate change threats.

Another speaker, Associate Prof Sara Walton, of the Otago department of management, said a survey showed only about a third of New Zealand businesses were discussing climate change issues at board level.

However, having a credible organisational record on environmental sustainability was vital for potential competitive advantage, and in some cases, ultimately, for business survival, she said.

Yesterday’s event was run by the university’s Centre for Organisational Performance Measurement and Management.

Other speakers were Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand business reform leader Karen McWilliams and professional director Jane Taylor.

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