Consultative Committee Forum 730

Carbon a hot topic at Consultative Committee Forum

November 28 2023

The Consultative Committee Forum in Melbourne in October.

Carbon emissions look set to gain more prominence in the Sheep Sustainability Framework’s (SSF) updated materiality matrix if a recent Consultative Committee Forum in Melbourne is indicative of wider industry thinking.

More than 50 industry stakeholders gathered for the meeting in October, led by SSF Steering Group Chair, Dr Scott Williams, who said it was a valuable exercise in reviewing the current framework and an opportunity to monitor the industry landscape and ensure the SSF was responsive to emerging trends.

“We had a good spread of input from different sectors and I was very pleased to hear the Sheep Sustainability Framework is being used, referred to, and quoted, which is very positive,” Dr Williams said.

“People were very engaged; the conversation was quite candid and the very clear message coming out of the forum was that carbon has gone up in everyone’s mind.

“We had a panel discussion where we had a producer, a meat processor, a representative of the garment industry and a retailer, and they all spoke about the importance of reducing carbon emissions in the supply chain.

“Carbon has always been a highly material issue but if this discussion is indicative of the industry, then, when the materiality matrix is finished, carbon emissions will be up in the same realm as animal welfare and animal wellbeing in terms of the influence it has on stakeholder decisions.”

Manager, Sheep Sustainability Framework, at Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), Courtney Nelson, said materiality assessment was a key process for the SSF and typically conducted every four-to-five years.

“It allows the SSF to identify the most important topics affecting sustainability and their influence on customer and investor decision making and allows the industry to prioritise them to support continuous improvement in sustainability,” Ms Nelson said.

“It is critical to get industry input on those issues and the Consultative Committee Forum provides an ideal opportunity.”

She said the Consultative Committee Forum also served as a reminder to consider sustainability in all its forms.

“One of the pieces of feedback we received was that labour shortages were still an issue, and it also stressed the importance of the financial resilience of the industry.”

“It’s a valuable recognition that there needs to be a balance and it is why the Sheep Sustainability Framework has four pillars spanning animal welfare, environment, financial resilience and people and the community.”

The forum expressed continued support to fill in the missing metrics in the Framework’s Annual Report.

“It was very pleasing to hear that the Framework is doing what it needs to, which is encouraging discussions and bringing awareness to sustainability in the industry and reporting on it and being a source of data and information,” Ms Nelson said.

“There are six indicators that don’t have data to support them at the moment, such as the status of physical and mental health. It is a challenge to find appropriate data sources for those metrics, but it remains a goal.”