WA farm sector needs to lead on sustainability, expert tells forum

Headshot of Adam Poulsen
Adam PoulsenThe West Australian
Email Adam Poulsen
KPMG Food and Agriculture national lead Georgie Aley said environmental, social and governance regulations were “accelerating at pace” globally and the opportunity existed for the farming sector to have a better say.
Camera IconKPMG Food and Agriculture national lead Georgie Aley said environmental, social and governance regulations were “accelerating at pace” globally and the opportunity existed for the farming sector to have a better say.

A leading business consultant in Australia’s food and agribusiness sector has called for WA farming bodies to step up and start “leading the dialogue” about sustainability targets.

KPMG Food and Agriculture national lead Georgie Aley said environmental, social and governance regulations were “accelerating at pace” globally and the opportunity existed for the farming sector to have a better say.

Ms Aley made the comments at the UWA Institute of Agriculture Industry Forum, where she spoke about opportunities to futureproof WA agriculture.

“The ESG agenda ... is accelerating at pace, globally, and it’s accelerating at pace in Australia,” she said.

“It’s already having significant impacts as well as providing significant opportunities through to the production sector.

“We thought that COVID would slow down this sustainability and ESG agenda, but actually what we’ve seen is a rapid acceleration because of COVID.”

Ms Aley said there was a “fundamental shift” taking place whereby the agricultural sector was coming under intense scrutiny in relation to environment practices, environmental footprint and farming practices.

She said there was also increasing scrutiny regarding traceability across agricultural supply chains and how organisations governed themselves and managed risk, reputation and compliance.

“Australian agriculture really do need to engage further and drive constructive outcomes,” Ms Aley said. “There will be this shift towards new forms of market-based incentives to underpin the required change and the environmental outcomes required, and we really are seeing this shift towards these new incentives and new mechanisms moving at pace.

“This is something for farmers particularly, and farm advisors, to really start to think about.

“This isn’t just about carbon, but how do we (achieve) biodiversity, how are we looking at methodologies and capturing data on-farm to really quantify and measure and report against these environmental outcomes?”

Ms Aley said farmers and communities investing in achieving those environmental outcomes also had the chance to harness associated revenue.

“We see great opportunity to futureproof our production systems, but also provide farmers with the right rewards and right incentives for delivering broader environmental outcomes that do underpin the private benefit, but do deliver some of the public benefit to the community as well,” she said.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails