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Why the Banksia Awards are Australia’s SDG Barometer

Why the Banksia Awards are Australia’s SDG Barometer

Despite the biggest disruption to the global economy in 100 years, sustainability champions are still in the running for recognition through the Banksia Awards.

Australia’s longest-running sustainability awards program, the Banksia Awards recognise individuals, communities, businesses and governments for innovation and excellence in environmental and social stewardship.

The Banksia Foundation has aligned its award criteria to the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals. This makes the Banksia Awards “Australia’s SDGs Barometer,” says Ainsley Simpson, chief executive officer of the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia.

Last year, ISCA was named ‘best of the best’, taking home the Banksia Gold Award for a powerful commitment to the SDGs and for demonstrating the potential to deliver a big future impact.

Launched in 2012, ISCA’s IS Rating Scheme is explicitly aligned to 15 of the 17 SDGs. Together, the SDGs aim to end poverty, improve health and education, reduce inequality and accelerate economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

The IS Rating Scheme has measured the social, environmental, governance and cultural outcomes of more than $165 billion of major infrastructure projects. The 38 IS assets certified to date have achieved a collective 68% reduction in energy use, 34% in water use and 11% in materials use, over their lifecycle, when compared to declared baselines.

According to Banksia Foundation CEO, Graz van Egmond, ISCA’s team was applauded for “walking the talk” and for “sharing their success with others because they are truly committed to creating long-term and ongoing change”.

ISCA also took out the Banksia Not-For-Profit Award. Other winners included Fujitsu Australia’s Digital Owl solution, which uses artificial intelligence and drone technology to pinpoint endangered species, and Substation33, a social enterprise that recycles electronic waste and helps people build new skills at the same time.

Ms Simpson says winning the Banksia Gold Awards “spurred our team on to scale our reach, elevate our advocacy and ensure sustainability is core part of infrastructure evaluation”.

Since then, independent analysis prepared by RPS Group, IS Rating Scheme Return on Investment, has found infrastructure projects rated under the IS Rating Scheme deliver up to $2.40 in benefit for every dollar spent. The study also found that, if the uptake of the IS Rating Scheme doubled, the net benefit would soar to a net present value of $90 million.

“The SDGs unite us all, and so does a determination to deliver infrastructure with quantifiable cultural, social, environmental and economic benefits,” Ms Simpson adds.

Ms van Egmond says the Banksia Foundation chose to extend the deadline for nominations for 2020 “because we believe that now it is more important than ever to celebrate those who are striving to make change”.

“Many people are using this time to look internally and ask the question – when life returns back to its ‘norm’, what am I going to have done, or what am I going to do, to have a positive impact on the world around me?”

The 2020 Banksia Sustainability Awards ceremony will take place in early 2021. Find out more about how to enter the 2020 Banksia Awards before 30 November 2020.