Study complete on New Zealand’s global environmental positioning
Our four year study into the vulnerability of New Zealand’s global environmental positioning, enabled by the Marsden Fund*, has found that businesses engaging with sustainability issues and practice are still a minority in New Zealand.
The businesses that are engaging see the need for it and the advantages, as well as the risks in not doing it. However, it is too expensive and risky for them to do it alone and they have now reached the point where they want government to intervene to help level the playing field.
Our project looked at cross-sector views on sustainability in order to determine any threats to the national position and trends in both opinion and practice. Analysis showed that over the past six years the lack of government and media discussion of sustainability issues has had a material impact, with businesses noting a parallel reduction of regulatory pressure to adopt sustainability practices from either government or civil society.
New Zealand has escaped sustained criticism of our environmental policies from our key trading partners. However, the lack of positive coverage represents a lost opportunity to show leadership on environmental issues. This is significant, especially in light of our nation-wide survey of sustainability practices adopted by NZ businesses, which showed that the top driver to adopting sustainability initiatives is reputation and brand.
The combined findings demonstrated competing points of view with regard to sustainability objectives, including tensions within the business sector. We also found clear evidence of an emerging shift in business expectations of government. While these expectations are not yet uniformly translating into demands, we believe this is what will happen, especially as New Zealand’s reputation is increasingly under threat, and while business opportunities are lost.
What we are now seeing is that industry leaders are calling for government regulation over key environmental issues, such as water quality and allocation, and carbon reduction through adequate pricing of carbon.
For more details about the study, contact Juliet Roper.
* The Marsden Fund supports excellence in science, engineering, maths, social sciences and the humanities in New Zealand by providing grants for investigator-initiated research.