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Sustainability Leader Urges New Zealand To Think Differently This World Environment Day

Rachel Brown, ONZM

This World Environment Day, Rachel Brown, ONZM, is urging Kiwis to become more sustainable.

Chief Executive Officer of the Sustainable Business Network and judge for the James Dyson Award for 2020, says that Covid-19 has provided a unique opportunity for New Zealand to implement more sustainable practices - particularly for businesses.

“Gone are the days when sustainability was considered optional for businesses in New Zealand. In New Zealand, public awareness and care is high and we expect businesses to look seriously at everything they do, from their carbon footprint to packaging options to formulation to how they care for their staff.”

“This is a very difficult time for business but for those who are resilient, now absolutely IS the time for a reflection and then a rebuild. Many businesses have frankly been operating unsustainable models for too long. Now is the time to create a business model that supports a fairer system for people and one that regenerates our natural systems. Addresses waste, climate and water too ideally!” explains Rachel.

She adds that our adoption of online tools like Zoom has also had a huge impact environmentally.

“We learnt a lot of new patterns during Covid, one of them was to embrace technology. So the first thing is to continue doing that – less travel, both in cars and planes” she says.

The Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit is also urging young people to think big and help find solutions to the world's problems, especially on the 46th World Environment Day.

Rachel’s role as a judge for the James Dyson Award is more important than ever, as 2020 was the first time that an additional $55,000 grand prize was introduced for the best sustainability entry.

“Sustainability is something I have been championing and advocating locally for a very long time so I was pleased to hear that the Award this year included a specific Sustainability grand prize and encourages more of a focus on sustainable design,” Rachel explains.

“I’m looking for creative ideas and designs that identify current challenges or problems and offer a solution through a lens of sustainability, like last year’s global winner Lucy Hughes who created MarinaTex - a bioplastic from fish waste.”

More about the James Dyson Award 2020:

The Competition:

The James Dyson Award is an international design award that celebrates, encourages and inspires the next generation of design engineers. It's open to current and recent design engineering students, and is run by the James Dyson Foundation, James Dyson’s charitable trust, as part of its mission to get young people excited about design engineering.

The Prize

Prize values will be calculated at time of payment and are approximately as follows: 
The International winner receives a prize of $55,000, plus $9,500 for the winner’s university
The Sustainability winner receives a prize of $55,000
The two International runners-up receive $9,500
Each National winner receives $3,500

Sustainability Winner

In 2020, the James Dyson Award has introduced a new, additional prize that recognises efforts in sustainability. The Sustainability winner will be chosen by Sir James Dyson from the international top 20 finalists. Potential winners of this accolade will have paid close attention to their invention’s part in today’s sustainable agenda. This could be through its materials, design process, methods of manufacture, or even the solution to the invention itself.

The deadline to apply: Midnight PST on 16 July 2020.

For more information, go to

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