- Climate change is a huge problem, but by setting business goals and working with others, efforts can go so much further.
- The experience of a chartered accountant is vital for this sort of collaboration.
- I am now involved in several climate-focused groups, including Businesses for Climate Action. The group helps New Zealand businesses measure and reduce emissions, to prepare for a low-carbon future.
As told to Hannah Tattersall
Photos Ian Trafford
“I am lucky to live near some of my favourite places. One is Abel Tasman National Park [at the north end of New Zealand’s South Island], famed for its turquoise waters, golden beaches and verdant forests.
But its wildlife was in rapid decline, ravaged by predators such as stoats and rats. Visitors asked tour operators what they were doing to save it. The operators listened and acted.
In 2010, as chair of the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust, I was delighted to get commitment from every tourism business to contribute funding, based on how many visitors they brought to the park. The initiative also involved the Department of Conservation, and Māori and local communities.
The scheme has been a success on every level, restoring wildlife and ecosystems, bringing back the birdsong the area was known for, helping to keep local businesses sustainable and as a model for similar initiatives elsewhere. And a major new funder was attracted to the area and has now made a long-term commitment to it.
A key part of the attraction was that all tourism operators were already collaborating and working harmoniously together, and the wildlife successes were already being seen and appreciated.
I am now involved in several climate-focused groups, including Businesses for Climate Action. The group helps New Zealand businesses measure and reduce emissions, to prepare for a low-carbon future. Many of these businesses are now certified carbon neutral or climate positive and have discovered savings and opportunities in the process.
With support from the group, some tour operators involved in the birdsong project joined forces with others to offer a zero carbon itinerary in the Nelson Tasman region. This program links businesses that are measuring, cutting and offsetting their emissions by way of local forest restoration projects – taking climate action while enhancing the visitor experience. Climate change is a huge problem, but by setting business goals and working with others, efforts can go so much further.
The experience of a chartered accountant is vital for this sort of collaboration. Understanding threats, identifying opportunities and connecting with like-minded businesses is crucial to how we respond to the greatest challenges we will ever face.”
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