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Sustainability: The Business Case

Media Diary Note 26 March 2001

Sustainability: The Business Case

Many companies such as Shell New Zealand and TOWER Limited have adopted the implementation of sustainability principles and practices as their operational goal. But how exactly do you make a business case for sustainability and show how it impacts positively on the traditional bottom line?

On April 6 the Auckland conference “Sustainability: The Business Case” brings together four international leaders, with widely divergent experiences and approaches, to show that sustainability means good bottom line business.

Dr Rodger Spiller, the Executive Director of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, says this conference will provide a rare opportunity to learn from international leaders on how to improve business by implementing and measuring ethical business practices.

Ed Johnson, Chairman and Chief Financial Officer of Shell New Zealand, says it is important for all companies to think about and manage their businesses in accordance with the triple bottom line.

“For Shell, sustainable development means balancing commercial interests with the need to protect the environment, and contribute to social progress – all with an eye to the future. We are lending our support to this conference because we believe we have moved from a ‘trust me’ to a ‘show me’ world and we must all ‘live our values’ in order to succeed.”

Co-sponsor, TOWER Limited, recently launched its first Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) fund into the New Zealand retail and wholesale markets, reflecting the desire of investors to make choices based on social and environmental responsibility as well as financial performance.

Business Development Manager Melanie Hewitson says "TOWER is in the business of presenting opportunities for our clients to achieve their financial objectives. Socially responsible investment, if carried out in a particular way, is consistent with that objective."

Even service providers such as the global engineering/environmental consultancy URS and New Zealand's Bell Gully are identifying what Sustainability means for their consultancy operations. Gael Ogilvie, Senior Principal at URS in Auckland, says, " A company's environmental and social credentials are now considered a major area of risk for many corporations. Clients are increasingly seeking to manage this risk through initiatives aimed at minimising environmental effects and use of resources and enhancing their relationships with key external stakeholders. In each case, a company must identify what exactly Sustainability means for them and set about implementing appropriate initiatives".

The Conference Speakers

John Elkington:
Co-founder and Chairman of SustainAbility, John Elkington is one of the world's leading authorities on sustainable development and related strategies for business. Launched in 1987, SustainAbility was the world’s first international consultancy dedicated to making the business case for sustainable development. Among other things, it coined the phrase ‘the triple bottom line’ in 1995.

SustainAbility works for a wide range of corporate clients, including such giants as Aventis, Ford and Shell, increasingly operating at board level. It also operates as a think tank and its longest running research programme has been for the United Nations Environment Programme. This ‘Engaging Shareholders’ programme began in 1994 and it has produced a series of agenda-shaping reports covering such areas as corporate environmental, social and sustainability reporting, internet reporting, the CEO agenda, and a series of sectors (oil, life sciences, automobility).

In 1989 John Elkington was elected to the UN Global 500 Roll of Honour for his 'outstanding environmental achievements.' Since 1974 he has undertaken consultancy work for national and international government, NGO's and companies. He is also Chairman of The Environment Foundation, a member of the EU Consultative Forum on Sustainable Development and of Advisory Boards of the Dow Jones Sustainability Group, ING, and the UK Export Credit Guarantees Department. John is author or co-author of over 30 books and published reports, including the no.1 best selling Green Consumer Guide.

Claude Fussler:
Claude is Vice President for New Businesses, Environment and Public Affairs for Dow Europe, and is currently on secondment to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. As the WBCSD's Director for Stakeholder Relations, he works closely with the OECD, with several UN agencies, the European Commission and the major environmental organisations. Claude is the author of Driving Eco-Innovation, which shows how competitive advantage and innovation are strengthened through a business vision of Sustainable Development. In 1994 Claude was the recipient of Tomorrow Magazine's prestigious Environmental Leadership Award.

Sarah Severn:
Sarah is Director of Corporate Responsibility for Nike Inc. Sarah has had seven years with Nike, first in the Netherlands with Nike's European Consumer Insights department, and then as European Manager for the Nike Environmental Action Team. In 1995 Sarah relocated to Oregon where she took on the role of Global Director of the Nike Environmental Action Team, before assuming her current position earlier this year. Her focus in this role is on stakeholder engagement and the continued integration of sustainability into the business. Sarah was born and educated in England, has a degree in psychology and biological science, and is on the board of directors of The Natural Step US.

Simon Zadek:
Simon is Chair and co-founder of the Institute of Social and Ethical Accountability. He works as advisor, mentor, external reviewer and trainer with businesses in Europe, the USA and Africa, development and human rights NGO's, and international agencies and governments. Simon sits on the Boards or advisory groups of the Global Reporting Initiative, the World Bank's Business Partners for Development, and the Copenhagen Centre. He has co-authored numerous publications, including Building Corporate Accountability, and Perspectives on the New Economy of Corporate Citizenship. His most recent book The Civil Corporation will be published in June.

For further information please visit the conference website ( or contact:


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