Navigating climate uncertainty: Strategic planning with imperfect data
by Sam Gill
The Sustainability Leaders Summit 2023, which brought together executives, leaders and passionate sustainability professionals from diverse industries to discuss and share views on sustainability practises, took place in Melbourne on March 1-2. The summit served as a crucial forum for knowledge sharing, teamwork, and mutual learning on how to hasten the transition to a more sustainable future.
Climate change, the circular economy, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and sustainable cities were just a few of the many themes covered at the summit. Policymakers, corporate executives, environmentalists, industry and academics were among the participants.
There were many important lessons gained from the third Sustainability Leaders Summit. I have listed a few takeaways below:
The significance of teamwork in achieving sustainability goals was one of the summit's primary themes. The necessity for collaboration between teams within businesses, and communities in pursuit of a common vision for a more sustainable future was underlined by many of the speakers. It will be necessary to adopt a cooperative mindset and to be willing to share resources and information to successfully implement this collaborative strategy.
‘Collaboration is the new competition’ Siobhan Toohill - Westpac
The need for novel and creative solutions to the environmental problems we confront was emphasised by many of the speakers. This will call for a concentration on research and development as well as a readiness to try new things and take chances. The presenters emphasised the need of using mistakes as opportunities to improve and create.
‘It is crucial to be able to pivot and make decisions quickly to make progress faster rather than waiting for the perfect silver bullet’ Phoebe Dowling – Simplot
The backing of sustainable finance is crucial to facilitating the shift to a low-carbon economy. Financial institutions and investors are essential to promoting sustainable development. More funding is required for clean energy, environmentally friendly infrastructure, and cutting-edge strategies that can lower carbon emissions.
‘Voluntary action is great, and first adopters get us on the way, but not all the way there. Australia must add 13TW/h per year – that is a turbine a day for the next 8 years. We need to share the burden of responsibility’ Anthony Garnaut – Zen Energy
The summit emphasised the value of addressing social challenges in addition to environmental ones. The need to encourage social inclusion, lessen inequality, and make sure that marginalised populations are not left behind in the shift to a more sustainable future was underlined by speakers. Given the disproportionate effect of environmental degradation on vulnerable groups, this was thought to be especially crucial.
‘Social initiatives are more impactful if it delivers real value rather than just time and really leverages the skills of the organisation’ Ashley Bleeker – BDO
A common thread that come through in many of the speaker presentations and panel discussions were the importance to have CEO and board support. Sustainability teams that have been able to progress quickly have the support of their senior management teams including CEOs.
‘It has become part of who we are, and even our CEO talks about it’ Cate Harris - Lendlease
‘Sustainability is deeply embedded in our corporate DNA’ Sarah Clarke - Mirvac
Perhaps the most pressing takeaway from the summit is that climate action is urgently needed, and it is OK to be the ‘greenie’ in the room. The effects of climate change are already being felt around the world, and urgent action is needed to prevent further damage. This requires bold leadership, innovative solutions, and collaboration across all sectors.