New Industry Tool to Measure Sustainability
Consumers and retailers are increasingly demanding more information about the broader impacts of the food they purchase including a wider range of issues such as food safety, environmental impact, human ethics and overall sustainability.
Organic certification already accounts for these demands. It ensures and verifies that organic products have been produced, stored, transported and handled in accordance with precise technical specifications. It ensures that the ‘chain of custody’ between producers and consumers is secure.
But to help further meet these demands, the New Zealand Sustainability Dashboard (NZSD) team has been working since 2012 to develop a sustainability assessment tool that will help New Zealand farmers and growers measure their sustainability outcomes and performance.
The NZSD Project is a six year long initiative mainly funded by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment. The goal is to find common ground when measuring sustainability. It aims to capture and record sustainability outcomes for New Zealand’s five most prominent sustainable sectors – kiwifruit, wine, Maori, forestry and organics.
Project Team Leader Charles ‘Merf’ Merfield notes that in New Zealand sustainability is often measured differently.
“The NZSD tool will allow both organic and non-organic producers to measure their sustainability in an objective and transparent way.”
“It will allow producers to support their marketing claims around sustainability and provide them with valuable information that will help influence management decisions.”
The NZSD team is creating a series of free, online, cloud based software tools that enables the primary industries to better capture assess and report its sustainability outcomes. Users will be able to benchmark their performance against others in real-time.
NZSD already have the firstgeneration of dashboards in use in the kiwifruit and wine sectors. The dashboards for forestry and Maori are also nearing their first release.
BioGro is a key industry partner involved in the project. So far, we have worked with NZSD to conduct an analysis of our certification tools to help design the best dashboard solution for the organic sector. The BHU Future Farming Centre is working with BioGro to lead the organic sector component of the project.
While BioGro does not fund NZSD, collaborating on the project will help organics maintain its leading position as a sustainability provider amongst consumers, regulatory bodies and governments.
Organic production and certification has been the leading sustainable agricultural system in New Zealand for over 30 years. NZSD aims to complement organic certification and the benefits it provides for consumers.
For more information visit the New Zealand Sustainability Dashboard website http://www.nzdashboard.org.nz/
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