Many New Zealand businesses will only commit to more sustainable management practices if the government legislates for them to do so, according to a multi-pronged analysis of Kiwi businesses carried out by Waikato University.
The university’s researchers have been examining the vulnerability of New Zealand’s global environmental positioning. They found that even though the country’s clean, green brand is fragile, committing to sustainability practices long-term is not something businesses will readily take up.
Even when businesses recognise they can save money long-term by reducing waste and energy use for example, they don’t action it according to professor Juliet Roper who led the Marsden-funded study.
“With the current drive for economic growth, the present government seems to have taken the ‘s’ word off its agenda. Sustainability has all but disappeared from political discourse and as a consequence the media are no longer using the term as often, removing a significant source of information and debate on the issue.” This in turn takes the pressure off business to adopt sustainability practices, says Professor Roper.
“It may not please everybody, but we need government regulations to maintain our clean green image. Businesses are increasingly at risk of suffering a legitimacy gap as the country’s lack of environmental protection becomes an issue for consumers internationally.”