14 Dec 2018

The Intern Perspective - ADHB Sustainability Symposium

Posted in: Toitū Together

The Intern Perspective

The Intern Perspective is a series showcasing fresh views of interns who are studying sustainability. These interns hold a unique position as they look to build on their theoretical knowledge and step into the workforce. We value supporting new talent in our industry, and want to hear their voice as the future of our workforce.

By Dilbreen Hussein, Commercial Team Intern

The annual Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) Sustainability Symposium took place at Auckland Hospital on Friday 30 November. It was a day where sustainability advocates from various fields came together to share their knowledge and experience. Along with my Enviro-Mark Solutions colleagues, I attended to learn real-world sustainability issues from the diverse range of speakers.

The first speaker was Dame Rangimarie Naida Glavish, ADHB Chief Advisor Tikanga, who focused on the Māori relationship between people and nature. She spoke about the strong emphasis on respecting nature in Māori culture, and how nature provides prompts, such as particular bird calls signifying crops are ready for harvesting. As her presentation went on, I began to think about the different resources provided by the earth that we are overusing rather than utilising through sustainable practices. An example of this is our relationship with crude oil. We use it for many products at a rate that suggests there in an abundance of it, when in reality there is a finite amount and this mindset behind our rates of consumption is cause for concern.

A variety of speakers followed throughout the day from a Public Health Physician and Senior Lecturer, to a Procurement and Strategy Specialist, among many more. They discussed what their organisations were doing around sustainability and long term vision, which illustrated their unique approaches to overcome challenges. One approach which stood out to me was the concept of a circular economy, discussed by James Griffin, General Manager of Projects and Advisory, from the Sustainable Business Network. A circular economy is the idea that we derive the most value from products while in use. So we should keep resources in use for as long as possible, then recover and regenerate materials and products at the end of their service life. Hearing how the circular economy has been applied made the benefits apparent and helped me realise that I too, without training or industry specific resources, can contribute to combating climate change through my decisions and consumption habits.Shaun Bowler at ADHB Symposium

The day had a reoccurring theme of hope, about becoming sustainable as a society and how individuals are capable of making change and inspiring change in others through being conscious about the impact of their decisions on the wider environment. Shaun Bowler, Principal Sustainability Advisor at Enviro-Mark Solutions, beautifully represented this message in saying “mindfulness is the ‘secret sauce’ of sustainability”. 

I went into the symposium expecting to hear only good things about what organisations were doing around sustainability, but that wasn’t the case. I got to hear regular people, across a diversity of organisations, transparently talking about their accountability, impacts on the environment and what they were doing to become sustainable. It was clear the organisations felt a responsibility to practice business in a sustainable manner and have been working to make it a priority.