Launch of Business Council of Australia Statement on Strategies for Sustainable Development

Launch of the Business Council of Australia Statement on Strategies for Sustainable Development

Welcome and Introduction by Dr John Schubert, President, Business Council of Australia

  • The Premier of New South Wales, the Honourable Bob Carr, ladies and gentlemen.
  • It is indeed a pleasure to be here today to launch the Business Council of Australia’s Statement on Strategies for Sustainable Development. The fact the launch is being held at the Australian Stock Exchange shows just how far sustainable development has progressed as a mainstream issue for business.
  • The sustainable development debate, encapsulating as it does a broad range of environmental and social issues, has significant implications for all businesses.
  • Recognising this, the Business Council of Australia has identified sustainable development as a priority issue.
  • If business is to influence future policy directions, it must have a credible voice on this issue. This can only be achieved on the back of a clear commitment to sustainable development and a clear demonstration that this commitment is translating into practice.
  • Two recent initiatives of the BCA are designed to achieve this. The first is the BCA Statement on Strategies for Sustainable Development, which has been the subject of a public consultation process since November and which we are formally launching today.
  • The Statement provides a framework for business responses to sustainable development, recognising that the corporate contribution to sustainable development can be fulfilled through excellence in the management of the financial, environmental and social dimensions of all corporate activities, products and services.
  • Importantly, the Statement is intended to define the direction in which many of our member corporations are moving, rather than to prescribe a final destination. This recognises that our understanding of what sustainable development means in practical terms is an evolutionary process, and that there is more than one way to make progress.
  • It also reflects the diverse membership of the Council, which covers the transport, financial, resource development, services, retail and manufacturing sectors.
  • The Statement provides direction in six key areas, ranging from the development of public corporate policies on the application of the principles of sustainable development to all corporate activities to a review of performance against these principles.
  • The BCA’s commitment to sustainable development through this statement is not an end in itself. Ultimately, it is improvements in performance that matter.
  • However, the statement demonstrates where we can expect to see progress, including through increased environmental and social reporting, better management systems and greater community consultation and involvement.
  • The second BCA initiative which is currently under way is to document the initiatives leading corporations are putting in place to fulfill their commitment to sustainable development. The resulting report will provide a substantial and detailed guide to leading corporate practice, supported by specific case studies. As part of the BCA’s commitment to stakeholder consultation around these issues, we are also releasing a discussion draft of this document today.
  • These two important initiatives demonstrate business commitment to sustainable development. However, business alone will not achieve sustainable development, nor should it be expected to.
  • While governments at all levels are increasingly adopting the language of sustainable development, there remains a need for a national vision of what the transition to sustainable development means for Australia, how it can be achieved and what opportunities and threats it might present for Australia’s future prosperity. The BCA will be examining these issues in the coming months, and how the sustainable development agenda fits in with Australia’s other economic and social goals.
  • This creates a number of risks for business, but it also leads to an environment where business can – and should – take an active role in setting a future direction for sustainable development that recognises the broader interests of the community.
  • It is now my very great pleasure to introduce the Premier of New South Wales, the Honourable Bob Carr. Premier Carr has a long and deep interest in sustainable development, attributable in part to his experience for four years as Minister for Planning and Environment in the mid 1980s.
  • I would like to welcome Premier Carr to respond on behalf of the NSW Government.

Introduction to Dr Paul Tebo

  • Thank you Premier. I am now delighted to introduce our next speaker, who is one of the world’s leading authorities on sustainable development.
  • Dr Paul Tebo, DuPont Global Corporate Vice-President for Safety, Health and Environment. Paul has been responsible for implementing DuPont’s worldwide environmental motto “the goal is zero.” His leadership in this area was acknowledged last year with the prestigious Environmental Leadership Award from Tomorrow magazine and The Conservation Leadership Award from the Conservation Fund.
  • Paul will talk to us about global trends in sustainable development.

Introduction to Mr David Morgan

  • Thank you Paul. I think too often the sustainable development debate is thought to be the domain of miners and farmers.
  • Clearly, it is not. Within the Council, a number of CEOs are taking leadership roles in the sustainable development agenda. One of those is Mr David Morgan, who has been the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Westpac since 1999. David joined Westpac in 1990 after a distinguished career in the public service. He will discuss the finance sector’s role in sustainable development.

Introduction to Mr David Butcher

  • Many thanks David. Our final speaker today is Mr David Butcher, the Chief Executive Officer of the World Wide Fund for Nature. Among his many experiences, David has worked in zoos in New Zealand and the UK, and is a former Assistant Director of our own Taronga Zoo and Executive Director of the RSPCA in New South Wales. David will provide a non-government organisation perspective of sustainable development.

Closing remarks by Dr John Schubert

  • Thank you David, and thank you to all of our eminent speakers.
  • Clearly, sustainable development is and will continue to be a major issue for business. It is in the interests of business to play an active role in ensuring that the sustainable development debate evolves in a way that is consistent with the broader national objectives.
  • I would like to close by thanking you all for attending, and inviting you to join us for a light lunch.