Industry veteran Mark Lyster has left EY and joined five other high profile directors to form a new consultancy that aims to tap the growing interest in supply chain sustainability, as well as the need for corporates to secure a “social licence to operate.”
The new company, Action Sustainability, is licensed to the UK company of the same name started by co-founder of the Supply Chain Sustainability schools in the UK and in Australia, Shaun McCarthy, who is also one of the directors in the new group.
Mr Lyster was previously a senior member of climate change and sustainability team at EY, and joined the company as part of EY’s buyout of Net Balance in September 2014. He previously notched up 10 years at the Ecos Foundation with Paul Gilding, author of The Great Disruption.
Other co directors in Australia are Danielle Mulder, Jean-Louis Haie and David Pugh; a sixth in the UK is Ian Heptonstall, who is also co-founder of Action Sustainability and the Supply Chain School in the UK.
Mr Lyster told The Fifth Estate that one of the drivers of the new business was to capture the opportunity to offer “bespoke, sustainability advisory services to more sophisticated, discerning clients, both in the public and private sectors.
“The scale, urgency and complexity of the societal challenges we face suggests that a diversity of services from a range of providers, big and small, is appropriate,” he said.
Supply chain is the new frontier
He said the supply chain was the “new frontier in sustainability”.
“For most organisations the most significant adverse sustainability impacts and risks occur in their supply chain. Do this well and it delivers cost savings, revenue growth, mitigates risks and creates shared value.”
He also pointed to growing opportunities in infrastructure with the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia’s rating tool increasingly required by government projects, particularly the tranche under way in NSW.
The move was now becoming mainstream he said. “ISCA has come of age; it’s driving consistent performance standards and for contractors wanting to do business in infrastructure the same thing is happening.”
There was a “whole pipeline of projects” that needed to become sustainably rated, he said.
On the supply chain side, Mr Lyster said the whole social licence to operate framework was becoming “very nuanced.”
The investment markets were increasingly asking questions of corporates: “do they understand their future environmental and social risk, and have they factored this in?” he said.
He pointed to the divestment campaign and how successful it has been.
“We’ve seen things like the Paris agreement, the sustainable development goals and the guiding principles on human rights – they’re all tending to suggest the licence to operate will become more complex and more nuanced. It suggests it needs quite bespoke advice for interpreting scenarios in the future.”
Sustainable finance and the rapid growth in responsible investment and responsible lending was also going to be part of that new framework, he said.
Mr Lyster’s new co-directors had the right skills for the challenge, he said.
Danielle Mulder, Jean-Louis Haie and David Pugh;
Danielle Mulder is formerly a director at Edge Environment where she led a number of sustainable infrastructure projects for Transport for NSW, and has a background in corporate consultancy in London.
Jean-Louis Haie is co founder of Planet Procurement and leads the Australian delegation in the development of the world’s first international standard for sustainable procurement, ISO 20400, which will be published in early 2017.
David Pugh is has a background in strategic procurement and advisory of government and private sector organisations in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.
Mr Lyster also co-founded the Australian Supply Chain Sustainability School with Shaun McCarthy.