From fringe to mainstream: Sustainable Business Council celebrating 20th anniversary

On World Environment Day, the Sustainable Business Council (SBC) is celebrating its 20th anniversary of helping businesses be better for New Zealand.

“In the past 20 years, we have seen sustainability go from being an add-on to now being central to the strategy of New Zealand’s leading businesses”, says Abbie Reynolds, executive director of the Sustainable Business Council, in a media release.

“The buzzwords may have changed from corporate social responsibility and triple-bottom-line reporting to purpose, foresight and integrated reporting – but sustainability in business is still about making a positive difference to the society and the environment you operate in, now and for the long-term, as well as continuing to grow your business.

“Over the past 20 years our membership has expanded from 30 to more than 100 businesses, all committed to reducing their emissions, adopting sustainable procurement policies, and regularly reporting on their sustainability activities.”

“I believe we are very close to achieving our goal of mainstreaming sustainability in New Zealand businesses. For instance, the Climate Leaders Coalition arose last year from within our membership because business leaders wanted to work together to reduce their emissions and call on other businesses to do the same. The coalition is growing by the day and will celebrate its first anniversary in July.”

Reynolds says it is also pleasing to see many businesses embedding the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for their sustainability activities.

“Our members are at the forefront of helping New Zealand meet its commitments to the goals.”

“Looking ahead, sustainable procurement will be the next big lever for change, as our members are customers of many of New Zealand’s other businesses. Asking their suppliers to address modern slavery, emissions, and other environmental and social issues will have a ripple effect throughout New Zealand.”

BusinessNZ CEO Kirk Hope also noted the council’s importance to the New Zealand business environment.

“Sustainability is an increasingly important part of business both for its own sake and in response to growing consumer demand. More and more businesses are taking into account their impact on

the environment and on society. Having the Sustainable Business Council as part of the BusinessNZ family is a real asset in helping businesses to address these issues,” he said.

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