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  • Writer's pictureCaterina Sullivan

What Challenges do Airports Face in their Environmental Sustainability Commitment?

Updated: Nov 4, 2018

Being sustainable isn't necessarily an easy task for any business - especially businesses which operate in certain industries which have traditionally relied on "non-green business practices".

In an interview with the International Airport Review, Environment and Sustainability Manager at Brisbane Airport, Wendy Weir, talks about some of the realities of being an environmentally-friendly airport.

Environmental Compliance

When airports were privatised in the late 1990s, the industry saw the introduction of the Airports Act. This outlined areas of environmental compliance. However, as many of these privatised airports ended up in the hands of public, unlisted companies, there is limited statutory requirements for these companies to disclose the economic, social and environmental sustainability commitments and progress.

Lack of Change

Sustainability, as a concept, has developed phenomenally over the last 20 years; however, the Airports Act has not developed alongside this economic, social and environmental paradigm shift. Much of the legislation is now out-dated and slightly archaic and is in much need of a makeover.

People at the Top

For millennials, sustainability will become a core aspect of business. However, for those who did not grow up with sustainability as a fundamental value, it is less likely they will adopt sustainability as a guiding principle. This is why it is necessary for senior management to receive skills training to ensure they stay ahead of the game.

However, according to Wendy Weir, it is not all doom and gloom when it comes to airport sustainability.

Cheaper Technology

Energy-efficient technologies and renewable energy is becoming increasingly cheaper for businesses to invest. This is incredibly beneficial in making the case for airports to become green.


Investors are looking towards companies' sustainability commitments on an economic, social and environmental level before investing in an individual company. Many investors are looking for companies to be accountable for the effect they have on the economic, social and natural environment.


With the recent input of many companies to the United Nations' 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development and the Australian Government's commitment to these goals alongside the recent ratification of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, there is increased pressure from the industry to look towards becoming green.

Brisbane Airport Corporation has shown outstanding dedication to environmental sustainability to date, including dedicating over 10% of Brisbane Airport's landmass to biodiversity conservation, the attainment of Carbon Neutral status, the development of a Reconciliation Action Plan, the development of a climate change risk adaption plan, the release of the first public Sustainability Report in October and the signing to the Airports Sustainability Declaration.

These commitments require an overwhelming amount of dedication from senior management; however, these commitments are vital to ensure the economic, social and environmental sustainability of Australia for future generations to enjoy air travel.

This article was originally published on the Strategic Sustainability Consultants website.

#sustainablystrategic #corporatesocialresponsibility

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