NZ businesses not getting the message about sustainable use of resources

The latest Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) survey reveals that New Zealand businesses are among the least concerned in the world about future access to raw materials. This begs the question as to whether there is a need for businesses to “take off the blinkers” and commit more time to assessing environmental sustainability.

The latest IBR report compares the views of more than 2,500 senior decision makers in 34 economies on the cost, availability and sustainable use of raw materials and energy.

The report reveals that less than half (42%) of those surveyed in New Zealand consider that ongoing access to raw materials is an issue (compared to the global average of 53%), and that only 40% thought it was important that raw materials came from sustainable sources.

Mark Hucklesby, Partner Audit, and National Technical Director at Grant Thornton New Zealand, says of 34 economies that were included in the report, only five demonstrated less concern than New Zealand about raw material access; Italy (38%), Sweden (37%), Canada (36%), Thailand (35%) and China (27%). By contrast, Botswana (90%) and India (86%) showed the highest level of concern.

“These findings tell us that businesses in New Zealand largely don’t see any substantial threat to their supply of raw materials. This is both interesting and concerning, as it suggests the message about sustainable use of resources is an issue that may not be getting sufficient airtime in boardrooms and chief executive offices.

“In emerging markets cost, reliability and sustainability of both energy and raw materials are seen as prerequisites for business expansion. However, here in New Zealand, it’s not as high up on the priority list in terms of their decision-making.

“Failure to take off the blinkers and focus on how their current level of access to raw materials and energy could change may prove costly in the longer term”

However, Mr Hucklesby recognises that telling companies they need to do things differently will not be enough.

“The sustainability debate within business should be viewed as an initiative that will ultimately improve financial returns to shareholders rather than being narrowly viewed as a cost of business that’s incurred for public good.

“Our survey results reconfirm that when it comes to sustainability, New Zealand business owners should focus on what can be done today to save costs in the future, rather than assessing the topic solely through what is the cost of doing very little or nothing today.”

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