Collaboration key to solving big, complex sustainability challenges 

One of the ways that the ARA is helping to build a more sustainable and more inclusive retail sector, is to connect members with partners who can help them meet their own ambitious goals.

The ARA’s recently announced collaboration with leading Australian sustainability and impact consultancy, Edge Impact, is delivering on this objective.

Edge Impact MD Olivia Tyler hosted a panel discussion at the ARA Leaders Forum 2023, where she opened up the conversation with some of her own reflections about the the role of collective action in addressing some of the big, complex sustainability challenges facing our sector.


Sustainability isn’t new to many in the retail sector. Retailers have been embedding sustainable business into their operations for a number of years, with some ARA members leading the retail community globally in the transition to the low-carbon, nature-positive, circular economy of the future.

What we are seeing at the moment though is an accelerated ‘mainstreaming’ of sustainability where conversations about climate action, natural capital and ethical trade are becoming central to business and brand – no longer confined to the usual corners or ‘sustainability teams’.

More and more, all departments and teams within an organisation are being called upon to deliver on the broader businesses’ sustainability goals.

That might be around supplier risks and human rights concerns, packaging changes that reduce or change materials selection or increase re-useability or recyclability, or decarbonisation and the move towards net-zero, which is really about striking the balance between the greenhouse gas emissions put into the atmosphere and those taken out.

The backdrop that we’re operating against is also changing – greenwashing, continued calls for transparency, ongoing concerns with various mechanics for carbon emissions offsets, consumers wanting somethings, and not others, and increasing requirements for sustainability and climate disclosures by financiers means we’ve got a incredible platform to angle our natural drive for innovation, now, towards sustainability.

In fact, I would posture that the only way we’re going to get to where we need to go, is to embrace the change and encourage collaboration across the sector to drive continuous improvement and innovation.

While individual organisations may reap the benefits that arise from becoming more sustainable, even if they act alone, we will only address the big, complex and interconnected challenges that lay ahead of us by working together.

Olivia Tyler is Managing Director to Edge Impact ANZ

At Edge Impact, we’re working towards a world where unsustainable is unthinkable. We welcome the motivated leaders, organisations and industries who are looking to deliver positive global impact. To make it happen, we combine science, strategy and storytelling. Ensuring everything we do helps our clients impact people and the planet positively. Because what matters most is the outcome.




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