Summit brings agribusiness leaders together on ESG

Grain Central, March 13, 2023

KPMG Australia partner Georgie Aley addresses the Agribusiness Australia CEO Summit held on Friday: Photo: Agribusiness Australia

MORE than 40 agribusiness leaders gathered in Sydney on Friday to hear the latest on how Environmental, Social and Governance issues are being addressed in their sector, and the road ahead.

Information was centred on the 2030, today: unlocking and accelerating the ESG opportunity in Australian agribusiness report commissioned by Elders and prepared by KPMG for presentation at the Agribusiness Australia CEO Summit.

The key finding was that Australian agribusinesses were increasingly recognising ESG as an opportunity, and stepping up to invest and rethink their operations, while the need for more consistent and transparent reporting was identified.

The report delivered an aggregated view on how 34 of the top balance sheets across ASX-listed, private and multinational agribusiness organisations have committed to and are tracking and reporting on key ESG indicators.

Responses indicated the percentage of companies engaged in the following areas:

  • Promoting investment in sustainability: 85pc;
  • Science-based targets used to inform operations: 38pc;
  • Interim carbon targets adopted: 68pc;
  • Reporting on nature-related and biodiversity risks and opportunities: 50pc
  • Commitment to net zero by 2050: 62pc;companies, while 53pc have aligned with the
  • Alignment with the Paris Agreement: 53pc;
  • Commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: 76pc;
  • Targets for FY24 by agribusinesses with diversity and inclusion policies: 32pc.

More transparent reporting needed

The KPMG document said ESG reporting could be improved.

“There is a sizeable opportunity for Australian agribusinesses to enhance the quality of their ESG
reporting standards alignment and report their progress towards their sustainability goals in a more
transparent manner,” the report said.

It said the quality of sustainability reports can be defined as the transparency of information and compliance with basic reporting standards, and alignment to principles such as completeness, comparability, accuracy and reliability.

The report went on to say that while the Global Reporting Initiative and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals were often referenced by Australian agribusinesses, many provided limited or no information to explain how these frameworks and goals informed decision-making within the company.

“Since ASX-listed companies disproportionately adopt ESG reporting, there should be a targeted effort around enhancing the reporting quality of ASX-listed companies, whilst supporting MNC and private companies to commence reporting in the first instance.”

The report identified the following priority areas for the sector to consider:

  • Positioning nature and biodiversity on the ESG agenda will allow agribusinesses to identify  opportunities, improve resilience and prepare them for emerging regulatory requirements;
  • Focusing on initiatives that maximise social impact is essential. Agribusinesses should build and retain a workforce for the future while empowering local and Indigenous Communities;
  • Transitioning from a static and reactionary supply chain approach to a dynamic model that is integrates emerging technologies will allow agribusinesses to bolster resilience against future disruption;
  • Conserving resources and minimising waste to promote the circular economy will improve collaboration with local supply chain partners, drive efficiency, reduce costs and acquire new revenue streams;
  • Enhancing the maturity of ESG reporting and accountability will ensure agribusinesses operate with greater transparency and position themselves as leaders for other businesses (and sectors) to follow.

“These themes are critical for agribusiness leaders as they unlock and accelerate ESG capabilities and realise our 2030 growth ambitions,” Agribusiness Australia chair and Elders managing director Mark Allison said.

Mark Allison and Georgie Aley. Photo: Agribusiness Australia

Mr Allison said Agribusiness Australia will now build on the success of the forum and work to support the aspirations of the sector, right across the agri-value chain.

“This whole-of-sector approach provides an avenue to initiate positive change together, supporting long-term growth of Australia’s economy.”

Source: Agribusiness Australia


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