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Circular economy ideas inspire

Gisborne businesses have ways and means to transform the regional economy to a totally sustainable mode after they were left inspired from a conference.

Activate Tairawhiti, the region’s economic development agency, hosted a two-day conference earlier this month, to explore how a “circular economy” — underpinned by the use of renewable energy and providing a sustainable, viable and low carbon alternative — could replace a traditional economic model.

Activate Tairawhiti chairman John Rae said the conference was a definite success.

“Tairawhiti really got behind the event and mana whenua Ngati Oneone’s support made it all the more connected for all involved — especially being able to host the conference at Te Poho o Rawiri Marae.”

Mr Rae delivered the conference’s opening address.

Activate Tairawhiti TEAP (Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan) programme manager and conference organiser Harley Dibble said Mr Rae kicked off a stellar conference line-up.

“We were privileged to host such a world-class, inspirational line-up of international, national and local presenters and the public response both at the conference and in the media shows that.”

“Activate Tairawhiti has signalled its support for facilitating businesses transitioning to a circular economy,” Mr Dibble said.

“There is undoubtedly potential for Tairawhiti to do so. We have the means and opportunity to make it happen.”

Attendees praised the conference as a “proactive and forward-thinking” move for the region.

They also said it was “world class and inspiring”.

Many of the attendees expressed the mix of emotions that they experienced at the conference, with one noting the “precarious future” traditional models were creating for our children.

Others even expressed “shock, panic and grief” about what climate change meant for species loss, pollution and resource consumption.

Mr Dibble said 160 people registered for the event, with 100 attending on the first day and 80 on the second half day.

“Another highlight was an evening presentation by Riversun, open to all attendees.

“Managing director Geoff Thorpe spoke to more than 40 attendees about Riversun’s journey to be truly sustainable by 2020. Most exciting is their carboNZero accreditation, achieved late last year.

“They are the first and only local business in Tairawhiti Gisborne to hold this certification and attendees were inspired and surprised to hear how cost- effective carboNZero certification, is at only 0.1 percent of Riversun’s gross revenue.”

Activate Tairawhiti economic development general manager Steve Breen said he was particularly enthused about the amount of community engagement involved and the subsequent momentum that generated.

“Specifically, conference presentations and panel discussions will inform several workstreams including; the He Huarahi Hei Whai Oranga - Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan (TEAP) refresh, Gisborne District Council’s spatial planning process, Eastland Community Trust’s Tairawhiti Wellbeing Framework development and the Ministry for the Environment’s investigation into circular economy opportunities in Tairawhiti and Bay of Plenty.

“Activate Tairawhiti have committed to lead the overall regional conversation with follow-up events. We are excited to announce that off the back of the conference’s success, conference sponsor Massey University has partnered with Activate Tairawhiti to do this.”

AT would also look to maximise the wider business support opportunities provided as a member of the Sustainable Business Network.

Mr Dibble said that for those unable to attend, presentations had been recorded.

“Presenter clips will be online, so keep an eye on the AT website for more information in the coming weeks, says Mr Dibble.

“Conference attendees are already requesting copies, which just shows how impactful the presentations were. We can’t wait to share them with even more of our communities.”

SUSTAINING SUCCESS: From left, Activate Tairawhiti’s Steve Breen and Circular Conference MC Rod Oram, with presenters Andy Kenworthy, Catherine Leining, Panapa Ehau, Kate Mead, Frances Valintine, Alice Pettigrew, Dominic Salmon, Darnelle Timbs. Picture by Paul Rickard