Business Sustainability Initiative Projects
A diverse spectrum of industry, government and academic projects underpin the Business Sustainability Initiative from a cross section of disciplines. Outlined below are examples of the teams projects from within the areas of strategy, tourism, finance, accounting and management.
Consumer preferences for voluntary carbon mitigation in the aviation sector. (ARC Discovery - $186,400 in funding, 2015-2018)
BSI researcher: Professor Brent Ritchie
The demand for aviation is rapidly growing, creating carbon emissions. However, little is known about consumer preferences for aviation carbon offsets and how they evolve over time. This lack of information hinders the expansion of voluntary schemes at a crucial period in history.
This research will investigate consumers’ offset preferences and their willingness to pay for aviation carbon mitigation using a time-series methodology. The project will inform government policies and help industry to develop carbon offset programs which are more likely to be supported by consumers. It will also profile carbon offsetting groups to support communication activities to increase the size and value of offsets.
Future fuels cooperative research centre (Ministry for Science, Jobs, and Innovation - $96,000,000 in funding, 2018 to 2025)
BSI researcher: Dr Carol Bond
This seven-year Social Engagement project for the Future Fuels CRC (FFCRC) will enable Australia's multi-billion dollar energy industry to transition to clean fuels for Australia's electricity, transport, agriculture, mining, building and industrial sectors.
The FFCRC will create the technology and skills to produce, store and deliver clean, reliable, secure and affordable future energy delivered through new and repurposed infrastructure. This project partners with over 50 companies, six universities, the energy market operator and two regulators to investigate appropriate community engagement, as well as policy solutions for new technology governance.
Capturing coral reef and related ecosystem services project (Global Environment Facility, the World Bank and University of Queensland, 2014-2018)
BSI researchers: Dr Anna Phelan, Dr Russell Richards and Dr Carl Smith
This project focuses on strengthening coastal management through enterprise-based solutions focused on sustainable livelihoods that protect and enhance coastal ecosystem services. Key contributions included:
- Ecosystem-based Business Development approach to support small-scale fisheries
- Sustainable tourism and value-added products in low-resource coastal communities
- EcoBiz Challenge sustainable business plan competition
- Waste-to-Enterprise community led waste management program.
The economic implications of decarbonisation and climate change
BSI researchers: Professor Peter Clarkson and Associate Professor Kathleen Herbohn
Entities are exposed to carbon risks and opportunities stemming from the business, reputational and physical implications of climatic change. Current research initiatives focus on understanding these carbon risks and opportunities through the lens of debt and equity markets. Researchers are progressing projects examining:
- The impact of carbon risk on the cost of debt capital and factors that mitigate carbon-related costs
- The extent to which capital markets value the screening and monitoring activities of lenders
- The alignment between the rhetoric of the Big 4 Banks in Australia regarding their commitment to reducing the carbon risk exposure within the loan portfolios and the capital markets assessment of their activities.
Additional research initiatives involve a consideration of the extent to firms' business strategies mitigate the valuation penalty assigned to carbon emissions within equity markets.
Encouraging voluntary purchasing of carbon offsets (ARC Linkage - $160,000 in funding, 2016-2019)
BSI researcher: Professor Brent Ritchie
Climate change is one of the most critical challenges societies collectively face today as well as the future. Voluntary carbon offsetting offers a solution that avoids politically costly mandatory offset schemes. Currently, fewer than 10% of air travellers purchase carbon offsets voluntarily, presenting significant untapped growth potential.
This project will:
- Profile consumers interested in voluntarily purchasing carbon offsets
- Identify motivational sub-segments among them
- Develop and experimentally test carbon offset offers for domestic flights targeted at these segments.
Findings will generalise beyond carbon offsetting for air traffic.
Small islands initiative for a plastic-free ocean (Global Change Institute Flagship Grant - UQ GCI Flagship project - $120,000 in funding, September 2018 – Sept. 2020)
BSI researcher: Dr Anna Phelan and Dr Carl Smith.
This topical project focuses on reducing ocean plastic pollution in remote coastal communities in Indonesia. In partnership with the Indonesian Institute of Science, the project applies participatory diagnosis tools within a transdisciplinary systems approach to identify opportunities in community-based waste management strategies. It also aims to influence relevant policies for cleaner environmental outcomes.
The intended output of this project is to understand the roles of communities, key organizations and industries that are involved in different local and regional-scale waste management practices, their respective knowledge/belief systems, and potential roles in support of effective multi-level plastic waste management.
The impact of environmental and social information on investor choices
BSI researcher: Associate Professor Jacquelyn Humphrey
Traditional finance models assume that investors only consider risk and return in decision-making. This project is an experiment in investor decision-making, in which investment choices are linked to payments to social and environmental not-for-profit organizations. The outcome of this project will inform the debate on whether social and environmental considerations have an impact on how individuals make investment choices.
Sustainable resource extraction
BSI researchers: Dr Belinda Wade and Cristyn Meath
This project examines the strategy, innovation and processes of a local Helidon sandstone extraction company Rock Trade Industries. The company has reached 95% utilisation of extracted resources up from an industry standard of 25% - a noteworthy case study as we move to an increasingly resource-constrained future. A teaching case has been produced on Rock Trade Industries, with research continuing to further understand the process of innovation and the valuation of natural resources.
Challenges for adaptive governance in multilevel systems
BSI researcher: Dr Stephen Jones
This research focuses on the question of whether adaptive governance provides a framework for governments in multi-level systems developing and implementing waste policy. The project investigates linkages in socio-economic systems toward sustainable outcomes. It has been the attractiveness of the principles of good governance, namely legitimacy, accountability, inclusiveness and fairness that have been fundamentally linked to the pursuit of ecologically sustainable outcomes and the application of adaptive governance to an expanding range of policy areas.
This project examines the rapidly evolving challenges in establishing sustainable practices through waste management policy. The project applies an inventory of adaptive governance methods using the Australian experience with a waste policy as a means of analysing the challenges governments could face in a multilevel context.
Challenging the growth imperative: sustainability, business models and the post-growth agenda
BSI researcher: Dr Cle-Anne Gabriel (@CleAnneGabriel)
Many organisations continue to grow and consume at the expense of the natural environment. The post-growth critique challenges this growth imperative, acknowledging the need to reduce the impact of organisations on nature. Post-growth seeks de-emphasised economic growth (though not necessarily ‘zero growth'), equitable downscaling of production and consumption within ecological means and enhanced societal well-being.
The purpose of this project is to gather ideas and information from business and sustainable development stakeholders and subject matter experts on the contribution that business research and practice might make to the post-growth agenda. The research questions are: Which businesses potentially characterize the strong sustainability ideals of the post-growth agenda? and What might be the key features of a post-growth business model?