Blogs, Environment & Climate Change

BLOG | Adelaide Networking Evening: Challenges and opportunities for South Australian businesses in advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Dr Evan Center | April 29, 2024

The Adelaide Networking Evening – hosted by ResourceCo and the South Australian Museum – brought together participants from the UN Global Compact Network Australia (UNGCNA) and other sustainability professionals based in Adelaide, for the first in-person UNGCNA gathering in South Australia.

During the formal proceedings, panel speakers delivered insightful presentations on the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They explored how their organisations are actively advancing towards these goals, which is especially significant given the 2023 milestone—the halfway point to the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This discussion was aptly contextualised within the UN Global Compact’s Forward Faster initiative, which emphasises shifting from pledges to action. During the event, our panellists engaged in a dynamic discussion, answering critical questions about their organisations’ roles in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They detailed the specific actions their organisations have taken to integrate the SDGs into their operations and the significant challenges they have faced along the way.

Our panellists were from government, green industries and the private sector and included:

Within South Australia, renewables have helped eliminate many Scope 1 & 2 issues, but there are major challenges and opportunities in Scope 3 emissions and hard to abate sectors. Alongside these challenges are opportunities for fresh engagement in sustainability-based solutions. As the private sector moves towards a more sustainable future, there is an ability to unlock these opportunities and provide tangible results – such as eliminating food waste, driving quality data through supply chains, displacing the use of virgin materials and making landfills a thing of the past.

Accordingly, much of the discussion centred upon SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production. The panellists discussed how technology, policy and business can work together to accelerate progress towards the SDGs. According to Brad Lemmon, there is a need to be optimists in the sustainability space and the private sector. Michelle Howie added that partnerships are crucial.

“We need to leverage SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals,” she explained, “to join forces on our mission to accelerate zero carbon and zero waste pathways in South Australia, including SDGs 12 & 13.”

The conversation also delved into how policy can better support the private sector in advancing the SDGs, underscoring the need for collaborative efforts between government and industry. Looking ahead, each panellist shared their organisation’s vision for the future and outlined the next steps they are taking to ensure continued progress towards sustainable development.

“Partly due to the fact SA has the world’s highest levels of Variable Renewable Energy (>70% average), our Scope 2 emissions – from energy – are much lower than other states,” explained Michelle Howie.

Building on this, Professor Ian Overton explained that policy support helps drive changes in sustainability, showcasing the 40+ years of their container deposit scheme in South Australia as an example.

It was wonderful to see how South Australia’s fantastic sustainability professionals have taken up this incredible opportunity to solve our greatest environmental challenges and accelerate the SDGs, here and now.

Photos gallery of the event can be found here.

Alaia Taher, Environment and Climate Change Intern, UN Global Compact Network Australia is the primary author of this post with support from Dr Evan Center, Senior Manager Environment and Climate Change. Lauren Richardson, Marketing Intern, UN Global Compact Network Australia and Michelle Howie, Program Lead SA Zero, Committee for Adelaide also contributed to the article.

About ResourceCo:
ResourceCo is a global leader in the recovery and re-manufacturing of primary resources, extracting maximum value from materials otherwise destined for landfill. They work with governments, communities and multinational companies to progress the circular economy and preserve natural resources for a sustainable future.

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Dr Evan Center

Dr Evan Beaumont Center is an experienced environment and climate change professional with expertise in environmental research, strategy and partnerships. Evan manages our Environment and Climate Change portfolio in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Global Compact Network’s Ten Principles.