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Business, government and society need an integrated, collaborative response to Climate Change challenges - sustainability project co-leader

14 Aug 2013

In too many countries, the challenges of climate change have been politicized to the point where debating minor issues appears more important than tackling global problems before they get worse, according the University of Sydney Business School's Professor Steve Elliot.

Without collaboration, Professor Elliot says businesses will justify avoiding the issue, governments will be forced to implement increasingly tougher regulations and some groups in society will feel they need to take direct action.

Speaking at the National Environment Agency's Singapore Environment Institute, Professor Elliot, said that the best way of countering climate change and ensuring environmental sustainability is through a collaborative process involving business, government and the society.

"Singapore's National Climate Change Strategy is an exemplar of how a nation can prepare for this level of strategic collaboration," Professor Elliot said.

"Business is responsible for many of the environmental challenges facing the world and business can best help find the solutions," he said. "But businesses are all different and some are not well equipped to take the types of appropriate action required."

"Supportive government policies could, for example, assist small businesses to analyse their current practices and determine how they might become more environmentally sustainable."

Professor Elliot acknowledged that regulation may be necessary in large complex economies such as the European Union where laws on e-waste and power consumption by electronic goods have been effective in reducing pollution.

"However, if the key parties can collaborate effectively then this is invariably the most productive approach to addressing challenges that are continually changing," he said.

Professor Elliot currently co-leads a multi-disciplinary international research project titled 'How Will Businesses Speak Biodiversity?'

"This project aims to assist business to contribute to resolving threats to biodiversity and the natural ecosystems that support them by increasing awareness of the issues and formulating decision frameworks to help companies, governments and societies to work more closely together," he explained.

"Environmental sustainability is of concern to business leaders but implementing effective policies is often difficult because of a lack of universal frameworks," Professor Elliot said. "We aim to integrate relevant ecosystem service data and strategic planning technology in the business world to address emerging challenges."

The 'How Will Businesses Speak Biodiversity?' project is being funded by the US National Science Foundation's Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center and is being undertaken in collaboration with Oregon State University.

The international project team includes members from business, government, non-governmental environmental advocacy groups and university research centers. For further details, contact Prof. Steve Elliot at the Business Environmental Sustainability Research Group.