Sustainability experts join Fonterra’s new advisory panel


Fonterra has appointed an independent Sustainability Advisory Panel to guide the Co-operative as it strives to be a world leader in sustainably produced dairy nutrition. 

The panel features a diverse range of experts including:

  • Sir Rob Fenwick (Chair), who co-founded the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development and was the first New Zealander knighted for services to both business and conservation
  • Paul Gilding, a Fellow at the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership, author and former global head of Greenpeace
  • Aroha Mead, a Research Associate specialising in Mātauranga Māori and indigenous knowledge
  • Bridget Coates, Chairperson of White Cloud Dairy Innovation, Director of Tegel Group Holdings Ltd and former Director of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand
  • Hugh Logan, who Chaired the Land and Water Forum and has 40 years’ experience in natural resource management
  • Michelle Pye, owner of large scale agricultural business Pye Group and member of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council.  

CEO Miles Hurrell says the panel represents one part of the Co-op’s wider strategy to build sustainability into everything it does.

“Our independent panel will help ensure our strategy is relevant to current and evolving sustainability trends while being integrated into commercial objectives,” says Hurrell.

“Some of the world’s biggest sustainability challenges are around food and we believe, like many, that the global food system must shift from being part of the problem to becoming a greater part of the solution. Our Co-op is already taking action to support healthy environments and strong communities, but we know we must do more.”

Hurrell says collaboration is key.

“Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor have just announced the New Zealand Government’s blueprint to improve freshwater quality which is encouraging to see and we support their overall objective. We share their commitment to deliver healthy waterways for New Zealanders and appreciate the inclusive approach they are taking to solve the issues we all currently face.

“We’re keen to maximise opportunities to accelerate progress together, and our Living Water partnership working with the Department of Conservation in five key freshwater catchments is a good example. We’ve committed to helping restore an additional 50 catchments, working with farmers, scientists, the Government and councils, mana whenua and communities.”

As part of its first meeting this month, the Sustainability Advisory Panel had the chance to visit the Te Rapa manufacturing site, a farm in the Waikato, as well as Fonterra’s support office in Auckland to learn more about the Co-op and discuss challenges and opportunities around sustainability.

“It speaks volumes for Fonterra that they have invited us in to provide advice with absolute transparency and openness,” says Sir Rob Fenwick.

“It’s a chance to influence the country’s biggest company with a multitude of challenges – environmental, social and economic – that impact not only the business and its owners, but the economy of the country. You don’t get challenges like that very often in your life. I’m really excited about it.

“When you bring together a group of people with very disparate interests from different backgrounds, you often get surprising answers. I think that’s the value of these independent advisory groups. What’s so important about this one is that it’s reporting to the board of directors. We’ll provide advice at the highest level and that makes such a difference.”

The panel will meet twice a year and provide guidance on the Co-op’s sustainability strategy, targets and initiatives to improve performance and outcomes.

“Our future relies on the balance between a productive dairy industry and positive, sustainable environmental outcomes,” says Chairman John Monaghan.

“To achieve this, we need to continue to challenge ourselves with frank conversations based on facts and science. The panel will be able to provide support with this.”

Fonterra published its first standalone Sustainability Report in 2017 and its next report is due out in November. Recent highlights in the Co-op’s sustainability agenda include completing over 1,000 Farm Environment Plans through its on-farm sustainability programme TIAKI, the ongoing focus to shift towards renewable energy such as electrifying its Stirling Site, the success of DOC and Fonterra’s Living Water Partnership in five freshwater catchments and a commitment to help restore 50 more.

Further information:
  • View our Sustainability Advisory Panel at or learn more about sustainability here.