Dairy giant Fonterra has announced the appointment of an independent Sustainability Advisory Panel.
Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell said the new panel represents one part of the company’s wider strategy to build sustainability in producing dairy products.
“Our independent panel will help ensure our strategy is relevant to current and evolving sustainability trends while being integrated into commercial objectives,” said Hurrell.
“Some of the world’s biggest sustainability challenges are around food and we believe, like many, that the global food system must shift from being part of the problem to becoming a greater part of the solution. Our Co-op is already taking action to support healthy environments and strong communities, but we know we must do more.”
“Environment minister David Parker and agriculture minister Damien O’Connor have just announced the New Zealand Government’s blueprint to improve freshwater quality which is encouraging to see and we support their overall objective. We share their commitment to deliver healthy waterways for New Zealanders and appreciate the inclusive approach they are making to solve the issues we all currently face,” added Hurrell.
Fonterra’s Living Water in partnership with the Department of Conservation has committed to restore an additional 50 catchments by working with farmers, scientists, the Government and councils, mana whenua and communities.
The new Sustainability Advisory Panel visited the Te Rapa manufacturing site, a farm in the Waikato, and Fonterra’s support office in Auckland.
Environmentalist Sir Rob Fenwick who co-founded the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development will chair the panel. Fenwick was the first New Zealander knighted for services to both business and conservation.
“It speaks volumes for Fonterra that they have invited us in to provide advice with absolute transparency and openness,” Fenwick said.
“It’s a chance to influence the country’s biggest company with a multitude of challenges – environmental, social and economic – that impact not only the business and its owners, but the economy of the country. You don’t get challenges like that very often in your life. I’m really excited about it.
“When you bring together a group of people with very disparate interests from different backgrounds, you often get surprising answers. I think that’s the value of these independent advisory groups. What’s so important about this one is that it’s reporting to the board of directors. We’ll provide advice at the highest level and that makes such a difference,” he added.
“Our future relies on the balance between a productive dairy industry and positive, sustainable environmental outcomes,” said chairman John Monaghan. “To achieve this, we need to continue to challenge ourselves with frank conversations based on facts and science. The panel will be able to provide support with this.”
Fonterra published its second Sustainability Report will be released in November. The dairy business has recently completed over 1,000 Farm Environment Plans through its on-farm sustainability program TIAKI. It is also focusing on shifting towards renewable energy by electrifying its Stirling Site, DOC and Living Water Partnership.
Other members of the Sustainability Advisory panel include:
- Paul Gilding, a fellow at the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership, author and former global head of Greenpeace.
- Aroha Mead, a research associate specialising in Mātauranga Māori and indigenous knowledge.
- Bridget Coates, chairperson of White Cloud Dairy Innovation, director of Tegel Group Holdings Ltd and former director of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
- Hugh Logan, who chaired the Land and Water Forum and has 40 years’ experience in natural resource management.
- Michelle Pye, owner of large scale agricultural business Pye Group and member of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council.