March, 2022|Sustainability

Stakeholder input sees Sustainability Framework honed and refined

The Australian Dairy Sustainability Framework outlines the dairy industry’s commitment to continuous improvement and to providing nutritious food for a healthier world. The Framework highlights where progress has been made and where additional effort is required.

The dairy industry’s commitment to addressing emerging sustainability issues is about keeping dairy in business for the long term, and improving the industry’s resilience to meet challenges as they arise, by creating a vibrant industry that produces nutritious, safe, quality food while caring for its animals and the environment, and meeting the challenges of climate change.

Dairy Australia reports progress against its 2030 goals and targets in its annual Sustainability Report. In 2019–20, it also undertook a Materiality Review as part of the ongoing development of the Framework. The Materiality Review sought to ensure that the industry’s priorities are aligned with stakeholder expectations, and to identify any new or emerging issues on which the industry should focus its efforts and resources.

Stakeholders provided input, through direct engagement and an online survey, on the key priority areas for the Framework. A desktop analysis of sustainability issues relevant to the Australian dairy industry was also undertaken. The method used for the materiality assessment reflected best practice and aligned with global standards. The assessment also reviewed what global dairy groups are doing to capture broad stakeholder expectations, investor goals and global goals.

The materiality assessment reinforced the sustainability work the industry has undertaken since 2012 in high-priority areas including animal welfare issues and safe, high-quality products. It also reinforced the industry’s commitment to areas such as water availability and efficiency, physical climate risk and greenhouse gas emissions.

Two previously emerging topics, antimicrobial stewardship and human rights, are now seen as priorities for the industry. The mental health and wellbeing of farmers has also emerged as an issue. The main objective of the materiality assessment is to prioritise topics for strategic purposes and disclosure. The insights developed throughout this assessment will inform both the ongoing development of the Sustainability Framework, ensuring a focus on key areas for change, and further stakeholder engagement initiatives.