New climate change and sustainability leader for EY Oceania

Thursday, 03 September, 2015

Professional services firm Ernst & Young (EY) has announced Dr Matthew Bell as the new EY Oceania Climate Change and Sustainability Leader.

The appointment marks a natural transition for Dr Bell, who currently leads nearly 100 people at EY Australia in advising clients on sustainability strategy, climate change, reporting and assurance, carbon, social impact, health, safety and environment opportunities. He succeeds Mathew Nelson in his new role, with the latter now focused on building the firm’s practice in the region as the EY Asia Pacific Climate Change and Sustainability Leader.

Dr Bell has over 10 years’ experience advising on climate change and sustainability, over which time he has noticed organisations’ changing views on the subject. He noted, “There is sometimes a perception that it is just the banks and resource companies who worry about sustainability issues, but it is mainstream now; it’s across all industries.”

These shifting attitudes are reflected in the changes to the ASX Corporate Governance Principles introduced for FY15 reporting, which specify disclosures on environmental, social and sustainability risks. Dr Bell said, “There is definitely a renewed drive from investors to understand and value non-financial risks, but increasingly customers and business partners are expecting it too.

“Organisations need to be thinking about how their business will be disrupted or will need to change in the future. They need to consider what it will look like in 10 or more years’ time, and understand the impacts on their ability to provide returns to shareholders. This is particularly the case for carbon-intensive organisations or those reliant on carbon-intensive sectors, but it applies across a raft of areas, including human rights in the supply chain, energy and social licence to operate more broadly.”

Dr Bell added that organisations’ appetites for sustainability advice have fuelled the steady growth of EY’s Climate Change and Sustainability practice in Australia over the past eight years. He said particular growth areas for the practice in FY16 will be the impacts of climate change and related legislation; an ongoing focus on health, safety and the environment; human rights; and social impact.

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