Fonterra appoints sustainability panel

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Fonterra's Sustainability Advisory Panel, left to right, Hugh Logan, Sir Rob Fenwick, Bridget Coates, Paul Gilding, Michelle Pye and Aroha Mead.
Fonterra's Sustainability Advisory Panel, left to right, Hugh Logan, Sir Rob Fenwick, Bridget Coates, Paul Gilding, Michelle Pye and Aroha Mead.

Related tags Fonterra Fonterra co-operative group Sustainability

New Zealand dairy cooperative Fonterra has appointed an independent Sustainability Advisory Panel.

CEO Miles Hurrell says the panel represents one part of the coop’s wider strategy to build sustainability into everything it does.

“Our independent panel will help ensure our strategy is relevant to current and evolving sustainability trends while being integrated into commercial objectives,”​ Hurrell said, adding collaboration was the key to success.

“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 coop is already taking action to support healthy environments and strong communities, but we know we must do more.”

The panel:

• Sir Rob Fenwick (Chair), who co-founded the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development and was the first New Zealander knighted for services to both business and conservation.

• 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.

Transparent and open

As part of its first meeting this month, the panel visited the Te Rapa manufacturing site, a farm in the Waikato, as well as Fonterra’s support office in Auckland to learn more about the coop and discuss challenges and opportunities around sustainability.

Chair of the new panel, Sir Rob Fenwick, said, “It speaks volumes for Fonterra that they have invited us in to provide advice with absolute transparency and openness.

“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.”

Fenwick said what is important about this independent advisory group is that it reports to the board of directors.

“We’ll provide advice at the highest level and that makes such a difference.”

New report due

The panel will meet twice a year and provide guidance on the coop’s sustainability strategy, targets and initiatives to improve performance and outcomes.

Chairman John Monaghan said, “Our future relies on the balance between a productive dairy industry and positive, sustainable environmental outcomes.

“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 first standalone Sustainability Report in 2017 and its next report is due in November.