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Integrating sustainability into business decisions

28 August 2008 Speech Notes

Embargoed until:8.45am

Integrating sustainability into business decisions

Environment Minister Trevor Mallard's speech to Business Breakfast on sustainable design and sustainable business, hosted by Ministry for the Environment.

Good morning and welcome to this Ministry for the Environment and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise breakfast on sustainable design.

It is my great pleasure to also welcome Professor Michael Braungart to our breakfast this morning.

Welcome Michael, and thank you for taking the time to come down to Wellington to meet with us. Michael is in New Zealand, and able to speak to us today, because he is presenting at the Better by Design conference on Sustainable Design in Auckland next Tuesday.

The Better by Design Conference is a much talked about event for New Zealand export companies, and New Zealand is honoured to have speakers like Michael share their expertise with us.

We are grateful to be getting a sneak preview today of what Michael will be talking about next week – specifically the idea of a "cradle-to-cradle" approach in which an industrial society, instead of trying to minimise its environmental impact, considers how it can benefit the environment.

In New Zealand, Michael and William’s work has influenced the thinking that underpins the strategic direction of the Govt3 programme - a programme which aims to promote sustainability in government agencies by sharing knowledge and practical experience.

The programme has moved on, for example, from aiming to reduce waste to striving for zero waste using the cradle-to-cradle approach. In the sustainable buildings stream of the programme, work is now being done on the possibilities of moving beyond the concept of green buildings to considering the holistic impacts of buildings on whole urban systems.

New Zealand as a nation has made a commitment to sustainability. The government wants New Zealand to become a world leader of smart, innovative responses to environmental issues and we are working with business on how to achieve this.

The Better by Design programme and conference is a good example of how we are working to integrate sustainable thinking into existing successful programmes for the benefit of business and New Zealand.

We understand that making New Zealand sustainable is central to supporting and protecting our unique national identity.

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve our way of life, our standard of living and the state of the environment by putting sustainability at the heart of our thinking and decision-making.

Being able to bring international experts like Michael to New Zealand to help us develop a way forward is vital to our success.

Consumers worldwide are driving change in the area of sustainable products and sustainable buildings. Here in New Zealand, our government is contributing to this by using its own purchasing power to drive change through the sustainable procurement programme.

This sets standards for government procurement which include environmental and social considerations, driving change down through the supply chains.

Outside government agencies, we also have a programme to help businesses verify their environmental claims, protecting consumers from being ‘green washed’ by companies making suspect claims about their commitment to the environment.

Through the government’s Business Partnerships for Sustainability programme, the Ministry for the Environment, along with the Ministry of Economic Development and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, are also developing programmes which enable business to develop smart and innovative responses to sustainability.

Incorporating sustainable thinking into businesses decision-making around how they design and manufacture products and services are key to New Zealand’s sustainable future and our economic future.

That's because innovative sustainable design provides companies with an opportunity to differentiate their products in increasingly competitive markets and can give them the edge over more complacent competitors who ignore the demands for eco friendly products and services.

New Zealand companies do need to maximise this opportunity to stay afloat in the global marketplace.

Being clean and green and 100 per cent pure is priceless positioning for New Zealand.

Our international image and our environment have become integral parts of our economy. International customers are starting to expect our green image to be demonstrated in how we do business.

We must work to maintain our reputation and ensure that trading on our clean and green image is backed up with real action to reduce impacts on the environment.

New Zealand has a unique opportunity. We are the right size for testing new and innovative approaches and being at the leading edge of sustainable solutions.

I hope you enjoy what Michael has to say to us this morning and that it inspires you to think differently about how we move forward in this fast-changing world.

Ends

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