Eco-business good for business Alistair Hughes finds the winds of change blowing strongly towards sustainability.
reed is good,” Michael Douglas snarled in the 1987 film Wall Street. His character, ruthless corporate raider Gordon Gekko, became a symbol of the decade where financial profit seemed to be all that mattered. When the global recession hit hard a couple of years later, companies paid the price of voracious short-term gain and realised ‘business as usual’ could no longer be sustained. Change was in the air. In 1992 the concept of ‘sustainable development’ was defined by the United Nations Brundtland Report as: “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” New Zealand’s Sustainable Business Council was formed in 1999 by a core group of businesses who believed corporations had wider social and environmental responsibilities, and who wanted to work together to fulfil them. Now with a membership of over 100, the Council provides support, training and networking for the business community to create a sustainable future. Communications manager Catherine Jeffcoate explains: “When we talk about sustainable business, what we mean is a business which can operate and continue to be profitable economically, but at the same time have the best possible impact on society and the environment.” She places sustainability in business into three categories: “Businesses making their everyday products more sustainable; businesses who have identified sustainability as a market niche and have designed products to meet that need; and businesses who are helping the first category to make their products or operations more sustainable.” With many larger corporates as clients, the Council encourages CEOs to show leadership in climate action, while helping in-house sustainability managers embed social and environmental principles within their organisation’s operation. The Sustainable Business Network has some overlap with the Council, but with a larger membership of generally smaller companies. Communications manager Fiona Stephenson has seen a heartening shift in attitude towards sustainability in business: “Whereas five to 10 years ago it might have been seen as a ‘something on the side which was nice to have’, there’s now growing recognition that sustainability is actually core to the whole operation of business.”
Golden Bay Hydro | Search & Rescue | Winter Fashion | Turning Japanese | Holden Acadia | Master Mask Maker | Fairfield House | Wine Vintage