Professor Don Henry joins the Centre for Sustainability and Business
One of Australia's most respected environmentalists is working with Melbourne Business School to help organisations adapt to a sustainable future.
Don Henry AM is a former CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation and the inaugural Melbourne Enterprise Professor of Environmentalism at the University of Melbourne.
"I feel very privileged to be working with the Centre's director, Professor Glenn Hoetker, because climate change and sustainability have been a bit of an add-on in many companies, but they need to become a part of core business strategy," he says.
While Professor Henry already discusses sustainability as core business with students on some of our MBA programs, he's particularly excited that his new role offers the chance to help organisations directly.
"It's a wonderful role that the School and Centre can play in providing a safe space, and serious business and technical expertise, to enable discussions around managing risks and opportunities with sustainability issues, keeping abreast of what's happening in other countries and generating new thinking and ideas together," he says.
“Business leaders are seeing rapidly increasing attention from investors, regulators, and the public on key sustainability issues such as climate change and biodiversity, and major changes in technology, and many are looking to manage emerging risks and capitalise on business opportunities."
Professor Henry has already started working with the Centre to bring business leaders, academics and sustainability experts together to find solutions to urgent climate change problems for organisations such as NAB.
"I've been working with Glenn and the team at the Centre to lift knowledge among senior bankers at NAB about climate change science and solutions, policy frameworks and the shifting opportunities that require investment," he says.
"In essence, we're helping them help their clients move into the low-carbon economy. This training role that the Centre and Melbourne Business School play is profoundly important."
Professor Henry says the Centre also plays a valuable convening role in helping leaders across and within sectors find the information they need to match competitors who are moving forward on the sustainability front.
"For example, we've been taking early steps to enable a discussion among healthcare facilities and providers, including private and public hospitals, to give them access to the knowledge and business strategy they need to reduce their own emissions and save money," he says.
Professor Henry has a history of working collaboratively with business and has advised companies such as global mining giant BHP and the finance, energy, and land sectors about their sustainability objectives and actions.
"BHP released a very detailed climate statement last year and ran a scenario analysis across all their portfolios of minerals as to what a low-carbon economy would mean for the company, and it showed that the best scenario for them was a 1.5-degree world, the most aggressive emission reduction target," he says.
Professor Henry says the reason for that is because there will be greater demand for copper and other minerals that make up the majority of BHP's portfolio as the world economies become increasingly electrified and low-carbon.
"Some parts of their portfolio, for instance, thermal coal, are disadvantaged, but in the swings and roundabouts, they are advantaged as a company if Australia and the world moved at a rapid pace towards clean economies," he says.
"This is increasingly good for business and the environment."
Professor Henry is also confident that Australia can achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and cut them by half by 2030, which the G7 group of leading economies pledged to at their recent meeting in the UK.
"The G7 nations' recent very strong statement highlights that the need to reduce emissions substantially and urgently also opens up tremendous business opportunities," he says.
"The G7 are all high-latitude countries. Germany, for example, gets half the solar radiation that Australia does. So, a lot of the opportunities the G7 are talking about, we've almost double that opportunity.
"Australia is well positioned to prosper and excel in a low-carbon world, and many Australian businesses are well positioned."
To learn more about how we can help your organisation meet its sustainability goals, visit the Centre for Sustainability and Business page.