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Porter Novelli New Zealand launches Sustainability practice

Porter Novelli NZ is today announcing the launch of a specialised Sustainability practice. James Walker will be joining as Executive Director – Sustainability, to lead development of the new practice alongside Managing Director Sarah Williams and Executive Directors Louise Wright and Jane Luscombe.

James has extensive experience driving sustainability programmes across the public and private sector, most recently at the Ministry for the Environment, and Woolworths Group.

Porter Novelli Managing Director Sarah Williams says the agency has long recognised the importance of sustainability to New Zealand businesses and has witnessed an acceleration of corporates wanting to make a positive environmental and social impact.

“CEOs and executive teams are increasingly asking for help on how they can make a tangible difference. We’ve moved beyond ‘why should we’ to ‘what can we do’ to benefit customers, employees, investors and the environment. That’s where we come in, helping to make businesses better through identifying what needs to be done, then creating strategies and programmes which have impact and deliver results.”

In his most recent role, as Deputy Secretary Partnerships and Customers at the Ministry for the Environment, James led the Ministry’s division responsible for mobilising New Zealanders and partnering with change-makers. He led work on the transition to a circular economy; collaborative action on plastic packaging and bags; the Ministry’s sustainability strategy; environmental innovation; and the public consultation on the development of the Zero Carbon Bill.

Prior to his role at MfE, James was General Manager Corporate Affairs at Woolworths Group (New Zealand), where he led Countdown’s sustainability strategy and reporting programme. There he led initiatives such as the company’s single use plastic bag ban - the first supermarket to do so - and industry-leading domestic violence and transgender transitioning policies. Formerly, he worked at the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade as a policy officer (trade and environment) and then Deputy Ambassador to the Netherlands.

“From my time working across retail and government, I get a kick out of helping businesses make a real difference. Business can lead environmental and social change, because it can move fast, is willing to experiment, and can bring people along.

“I’m really looking forward to starting up this new practice, alongside my old mates Sarah and Lou, and the team at Porter Novelli. Getting alongside a range of different businesses to help them make an impact is going to be a huge buzz.”

Sarah adds: “As our thinking around a sustainability practice gathered pace, all roads led to James being the right person to help bring this to life. His track record at driving change, his connections and influencing skills, plus his Porter Novelli-aligned sense of humour made it a no-brainer. James is a former client and the mutual trust and respect is a fantastic place to start.”

Porter Novelli’s new Sustainability practice will include strategy development, identifying community and social programmes, brokering partnerships and connections, working with government and creatively telling stories.

James will work across the Clemenger Group, which Porter Novelli NZ is a part of, to support our businesses and clients to achieve their sustainability ambitions – and to communicate their actions effectively.

Porter Novelli is a member of the Sustainable Business Council, and the Clemenger Group is Enviro-Mark and Rainbow Tick accredited. SPCA NZ is the agency’s charity partner and Sarah Williams leads the Clemenger NZ Diversity and Inclusion Group.


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