Blog – 12th December 2023

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Take 5 on Sustainability

Marissa Nikora, Priority One Sustainability Lead

Source: Marissa Nikora, Priority One Sustainability Lead

The Western Bay of Plenty is renowned for its abundant natural resources and vibrant economies, but it’s not immune to the impacts of climate change and sustainability challenges.

We ‘took 5’ with Sustainability Manager, Marissa Nikora, to discuss Priority One’s sustainability ambitions for the Western Bay of Plenty.

1. Where did the sustainability strategy start?

The journey to our first Sustainability Strategy was driven in response to growing demand / need from our members.

For Priority One, sustainability as a holistic concept, is inclusive of social, environmental, and economic facets. For this strategy, during the scoping process we identified that the gap was specifically in the environmental space.

Working with local businesses and stakeholders during the development of the sustainability strategy, the vision was developed for Tauranga to stand as New Zealand’s most sustainable city. This involves both protecting and restoring our natural environment, with Kaitiakitanga (guardianship) for the long-term vitality of our region’s business and environmental ecosystem.

With the strength of the business landscape in the Western Bay of Plenty, we stand behind this statement. Locally, we have a unique cluster of innovative businesses, who have demonstrated a desire to tackle sustainability challenges from a regional perspective. We’re seeing an opportunity to leverage collaboration, research and development, and lead with an environmental, cultural and socially inclusive lens.

2. What is the focus of the sustainability strategy?

On the journey to becoming New Zealand’s most sustainable city, our role is primarily in building capability, capacity and connectedness to influence and guide change which creates impact for our region.

To ensure that what we are doing is aligned with regional priorities, we also worked with Tauranga City Council to align our strategy to support the business actions outlined in its Climate Action and Investment Plan.

The primary strategy focus and project areas are within transport, energy, waste and land. Our team are delivering and scoping these themes through a business lens to create downstream advantages for our members and the region.

You can read further on our sustainability strategy here:

3. What’s been achieved so far?

The receptivity and traction we’ve had to date from the business community has validated the need and timing of the sustainability strategy. From decarbonisation assessment support, to waste minimisation and resource recovery, we’re focusing our efforts on scalable and high impact opportunities.

Our team are currently delivering the projects below:

  • Regional Energy Transition Accelerator Programme (RETA)
  • Circular Construction
  • Mode Shift

Together, we’re building a resilient, sustainable, and vibrant future for the region.

4. What are your top tips for businesses to get the sustainability journey started?

We know driving sustainability for your business can feel downright overwhelming and we hope our team can support you on this journey.

Here are some starting points to consider as a local business:

  • Carbon reduction & emissions management
    • Assess your carbon footprint and identify opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (for example, transitioning to renewable energy or optimising transport and logistics). Check out this free online carbon footprint calculator tool.
    • Attend a decarbonisation workshop – keep an eye out for a new Priority One event, delivered by sustainability experts Tadpole, in the New Year.
  • Transport: We know transport is the biggest contributor to our region’s emissions profile. As a business you can:
    • Work with your staff to explore alternative modes for commuting, such as:
      • Check out the Shift hub: rethinkyourcommute.co.nz
      • Provide incentives for carpooling or organise a programme
      • Support cycling to work by providing bike storage and showers
      • Subsidise public transport passes
      • Organise workshops on sustainable transport options
    • Look to optimise your fleet through:
      • Transitioning to electric or hybrid vehicles
      • Implementing telematics to monitor and improve driver efficiency (thereby reducing fuel consumptions and emissions)
      • Regular vehicle maintenance checks
    • Delivery and logistics:
      • Optimise delivery routes to minimise distance and time spent on the road
      • Use local suppliers to reduce transport distances

5. What’s next in 2024?

We will be kicking off 2024 with a Circular Construction group action plan meeting, and a Decarbonisation Workshop for businesses needing to understand the fundamentals of decarbonising their business. We’ll also be hosting a ‘Scan of the Shifting Landscape’ event to help businesses navigate the key changes that will affect their business operations and delivery.

We know our region has the capability to lead from the front. We have the skills, desire and ingenuity to make a difference. Join us in 2024, and together we will make the changes, together, we need to collectively thrive.

Check out these handy resources to help your journey.

Read our Showcasing Sustainability case studies to see what businesses in the region are doing.

Keen to find out more or be involved?

We’d love to have you onboard. Connect with our Priority One Sustainability Lead, Marissa Nikora.