Shift­ing the goal­posts

Home-grown ver­sion of a UK sus­tain­abil­ity ini­tia­tive aims to shake up tra­di­tional busi­ness as usual.

Element - - Business - By He­len Twose Project NZ: #theBIGshift, Septem­ber 17 – 18 at AUT Busi­ness School, Auck­land. Vist bit.ly/T2S55J for more in­for­ma­tion.

The back­ing of a UK-based en­vi­ron­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion is boost­ing lo­cal ef­forts to trans­form the sus­tain­abil­ity of busi­ness prac­tices.

New Zealand’s Sus­tain­able Busi­ness Net­work (SBN) has teamed up with the UK’s Fo­rum for the Fu­ture, which has de­vel­oped a pro­gramme aimed at chang­ing whole sec­tors to em­brace sus­tain­abil­ity.

Ti­tled #theBIGshift, it is the cul­mi­na­tion of 20 years’ work by the Fo­rum for the Fu­ture and is based on the un­der­stand­ing that “no sin­gle com­pany or or­gan­i­sa­tion can make a gen­uine shift to­wards a sus­tain­able fu­ture on its own”, says Fo­rum chief ex­ec­u­tive Sally Uren.

The cam­paign is based around “sys­tem in­no­va­tion” in which prac­ti­cal ac­tions are used to shift a sys­tem, any­thing from a busi­ness sec­tor, city or whole econ­omy, onto a more sus­tain­able path.

Here in New Zealand the SBN, a not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion with 500 mem­bers from across the busi­ness, govern­ment and non-profit spec­trum, has adapted the Fo­rum’s strat­egy to cre­ate a home-grown ver­sion of #theBIGshift.

“Rather than spend­ing a lot of time in­vent­ing our own frame­work, we looked to a proven frame­work and Fo­rum for the Fu­ture were happy to share their knowl­edge around the tools and how it’s best im­ple­mented,” says James Grif­fin, net­work gen­eral man­ager at the SBN.

He says the SBN has iden­ti­fied four key ar­eas that not only en­cap­su­late the key is­sues in cre­at­ing an econ­omy fo­cussed on sus­tain­abil­ity but played to the SBN’s strengths. The new work streams are: • Ac­cel­er­at­ing the cir­cu­lar econ­omy in New Zealand – mov­ing from waste man­age­ment to ma­te­rial op­ti­mi­sa­tion. • Em­bed­ding so­cial value into busi­ness mod­els – link­ing

so­cial is­sues to or­gan­i­sa­tional growth. • Ac­cel­er­at­ing smart trans­port in New Zealand – ad­dress­ing one of the tough­est chal­lenges in re­new­able en­ergy. • Restor­ing New Zealand’s food sys­tem – cre­at­ing a

suc­cess­ful restora­tive food sys­tem. Grif­fin, who is head­ing up the cir­cu­lar econ­omy work stream, says the project recog­nises deal­ing with en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity can be too big and com­plex for in­di­vid­ual or­gan­i­sa­tions to tackle alone.

The SBN is pro­mot­ing a col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach to tease out the is­sues around cre­at­ing sus­tain­able sys­tems be­fore work­ing on com­mer­cially driven so­lu­tions.

It will be util­is­ing the strength of its na­tion­wide net­work to ad­vance the project.

“Al­though there is go­ing to be some ro­bust dis­cus­sions as we go through we’re keen for businesses and or­gan­i­sa­tions to have a voice and to have an im­pact on these work streams so hope­fully there will be some form of own­er­ship,” Grif­fin says.

In the UK #theBIGshift has formed part­ner­ships with or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Nike, Unilever and Ak­zoNo­bel, in­ter­ested in build­ing sus­tain­abil­ity into their businesses and wider busi­ness sec­tors.

Here in New Zealand sup­port has al­ready come from the likes of INZIDE Commercial, a car­pet tile man­u­fac­turer aim­ing to have all its prod­ucts ei­ther re­cy­clable or biodegrad­able by 2020, and Fisher & Paykel Health­care who are both part­ners in the “cir­cu­lar econ­omy” work stream.

Grif­fin says the SBN is look­ing to show­case the progress of pi­o­neers in busi­ness sus­tain­abil­ity at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity “be­cause we know that case stud­ies res­onate with businesses, and gives them con­fi­dence and un­der­stand­ing of how they can achieve re­sults in their own businesses”.

The work done by the Fo­rum for the Fu­ture and how it is be­ing tai­lored for in­tro­duc­tion into New Zealand or­gan­i­sa­tions is the fo­cus of a con­fer­ence be­ing run by the SBN in Septem­ber.

James Grif­fin (right, rear), with the SBN team, from left: Fiona Stephen­son, Alex Wil­liams, Natasha Fromont, Anna Mathieson,

Rachel Brown (CEO), Matt Ayers, Ju­lia Jack­son, Theresa Gaire.

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