When I reflect on the exceptional challenges we face globally — population growth, climate change, rising unemployment just to name a few — it strikes me just how much uncertainty there is in the world.
The biggest challenge of all, at the heart of many of these issues, is the continuing threat to "planetary boundaries". According to the World Wildlife Fund, we are already consuming natural resources at a faster rate than the planet's capacity to replenish them. It calculates that if we all consumed at the rate of the West we would need three planets — yet we only have one. While this global volatility and uncertainty will remain the "new normal", it demands that we are neither apathetic nor panicked about it. It's the great challenge to our generation of business, community and political leaders.
I believe business has a unique and important role to play in solving this challenge. Business growth, after all, is absolutely critical to economic development and social progress. Ultimately, business needs a strong society and society needs strong business. The two are inextricably linked.
What is clear, however, is that we all need to think differently about growth. As a business, we do not have the luxury of choice. We cannot choose between growth and sustainability. We have to have both. We need to grow if we are to have the money, people and technology to invest in better communities, more skilled people, alternative energies to replace carbon, greater biodiversity and product innovation. On the flipside, we also need to find a way to grow within the limited resources of our planet. To achieve this we need to get smarter on sustainability. Where many businesses, communities or governments have focused on one aspect such as the environment they are failing to see how the economic, social and environmental agendas are intertwined.
That is where collaboration comes in. Better collaboration between business, community and government.
Though government has a key role to play in driving harmonisation, education and articulating a vision — among other things — business has a critical role to play too; one that at times I think has been missing.
I am convinced businesses that address the direct concerns of citizens and the needs of the environment will prosper over the long term. Therefore it's important we build new business models that will enable responsible sustainable growth.
This is something we have been focused on at Air New Zealand. This year we are celebrating 75 years as a company and as New Zealand's national airline.We're very proud of what our business has contributed in this time.
We believe we have a role to play that's much bigger than our airline. We see our success as inextricably linked to New Zealand's success. It's because of this role and responsibility we have signed up to a mission bigger than ourselves: to "supercharge New Zealand's success" — economically, socially and environmentally.
A new sustainability framework, fully ingrained within our business plan, sets out how we as a company are going to supercharge New Zealand's success from an economic, social and environmental perspective. It builds on the work we have already achieved in this space to date and establishes measures to ensure we continue to achieve our goals.
Collaboration is an important part of the framework and we are working closely with a range of international and domestic sustainability experts. We're collaborating internally with our people and with industry partners to drive positive outcomes under each of the three pillars of sustainability and will have exciting initiatives to announce over the coming months.
Sustainability is a truly big global issue needing solutions beyond our individual remits, influence and the normal business challenges which we can resolve by ourselves.
Partnerships will be key to unlocking these solutions. It will require interdependence, collaboration and ways of working beyond current practice.
• Christopher Luxon is chief executive of Air New Zealand.