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Explainer: The Aotearoa Sustainable Development Goals Summit and your business

A blueprint for a more sustainable future

Your best bet to get your head (and your business) around the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Aotearoa New Zealand SDG Summit is a free, online event on 2 September.

Businesses are facing a raft of new decisions and metrics in the face of climate change, biodiversity loss and consumer pressure. Environmental, economic and social sustainability are now major drivers of a business’ competitive advantage.

So where can businesses start?

Answers can be found in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – 17 interlinked goals designed to be “a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”.

In short, they’re a cheat sheet to get your business – and the world – better equipped for the future.

UN Sustainable Development Goals

The best chance for businesses and individuals to get a grip on the SDGs is to attend the Aotearoa Sustainable Development Goals Summit, taking place at the University of Canterbury on 2 to 3 September 2021.

The summit is a two-day event focused on taking real action based on the SDGs and is classed as “far from your usual conference”.

It will include experts from the likes of Tonkin & Taylor speaking to natural hazards, climate change resilience and a host of other creative thinkers and innovators rethinking ‘business as usual’ with a focus on participant-led sessions, activations and sector-based kōrero.

One business embracing the cheat sheet is Lyttelton Port Company (LPC). Kim Kelleher is their Head of Environment and Sustainability, and said the SDGs are “a kind of recipe for creating the future”.

“Only by including all of the 17 ingredients can we truly achieve a future where people and planet can thrive,” Kelleher said.

LPC has developed a broad sustainability strategy informed by the SDGs, which provides “a broad picture of what is necessary for us to achieve a safe, fair and ecologically sustainable future,” she said.

Kim Kelleher, Lyttelton Port Company Head of Environment and Sustainability

The goals are pretty high-level national ambitions – the key thing for business is to go further than just mapping against them and really analyse and strategise how they can contribute.”

Kim Kelleher Head of Environment and Sustainability at Lyttelton Port Company

SDGs in action

“The goals are pretty high-level national ambitions – the key thing for business is to go further than just mapping against them and really analyse and strategise how they can contribute.”

The Port’s current focus is on addressing their climate change impacts, aiming for net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and positioning the business as biodiversity positive. Some of their recent work includes the ecological restoration of 17 hectares of the Port Hills, partnering with the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust and Quail Island Trust, conducting penguin habitat surveys, and transitioning their light vehicle fleet to electric.

Lyttelton Port Company staff pictured with their zero emissions fleet vehicles

“[The SDGs] provide a good overview of all relevant areas of sustainability that a business should be considering in their strategy,” Kelleher said. Simply putting time into developing a strategy for a business’ own scale and situation can be hugely beneficial.

While online resources exist, and can help a great deal in embracing the SDGs in your business, attending the Summit and practically looking at them in relation to your business will make it real.

“They might not all be relevant and the important thing is to select the ones which are, and making meaningful progress,” Kelleher said.

 

Join us at the SDG Summit

Get your tickets to the Aotearoa Sustainable Development Goals Summit here, and take the first step towards a fair, ethical and sustainable future for your business.

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