March, 2022|Sustainability

A sustainability framework for Australian-grown horticulture

Hort Innovation has worked with Australian horticulture’s industries and stakeholders to develop the Australian-grown Horticulture Sustainability Framework for understanding and measuring the sustainability of Australian-grown horticulture production, and to set goals for the future.

A sustainable horticulture sector is one that is vibrant and prosperous, produces food to nourish and plants to nurture people and communities worldwide, provides fulfilling employment and protects our environment now and for the future.

In a globalised supply chain, consumers are showing an increasing interest in understanding more about where their food and greenlife products come from and how they are produced. Similarly, supply-chain companies and their shareholders, markets and investors are seeking evidence of high standards of product safety, workplace ethics and environmental care.

Three-quarters of Australian businesses have metrics to measure environmental sustainability.

Some 27 per cent intend to make their supply chain more environmentally sustainable in the next two years. In its Strategy 2019–2023, Hort Innovation committed to developing a sustainability framework for Australian horticulture to help the sector proactively manage emerging issues, and to set benchmarks to show progress over time.

The significant sustainability topics for Australian- grown horticulture were identified through a materiality assessment process. Over 600 internal and external stakeholders provided input through surveys, interviews and workshops, and a detailed review was undertaken of stakeholders’ published plans and sustainability objectives. The project then worked with individual industries to review and iteratively develop sustainability goals for each topic. Indicators have been drawn as a best fit between available data and the goals, and further refined through industry input. This research was conducted from October 2019 to April 2021, with multiple points of input from horticultural industries and their stakeholders.

The Sustainability Framework provides a logical process for measuring how Australian horticulture is tracking on key sustainability issues. With this information, Australian horticulture, its industries and businesses can tell their story of sustainable production, protect and grow access to investment and finance, target research to improve practice, and measure and track progress to sustainability.

The Sustainability Framework can be used at a whole- of-horticulture level, industry level or business level. A whole-of-horticulture sustainability report can be developed by compiling data and case studies for each indicator.

Hort Innovation plans to use the sustainability framework to inform the next Strategic Investment Planning process. Each horticulture industry will determine how it will use the framework. Some industries have started to use the information to develop their own industry approaches. Industries may choose to set industry-specific targets and timeframes.