Gisborne law firm Woodward Chrisp is taking a lead in helping to combat climate change.
Property lawyer and sustainability advocate Debra Dorrington was invited to do a workshop and presentation at Woodward Chrisp's Gisborne office this week.
Ms Dorrington said there was a need for encouraging sustainable thinking among lawyers by incorporating it in the advice they gave clients.
The workshop focused on two goals — climate action and sustainable cities and communities.”
Ms Dorrington said when people thought of sustainability they often only focused on climate change, but sustainability was much more than that.
“Climate change is the biggest thing that I think people are interested in understanding and knowing about at the moment.
“When speaking to a client about the property they are purchasing, they will give the relevant advice and also (tell them about) new and additional concerns or possible risks that are presented by climate change . . . just making sure that they understand.”
Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the UN for a better and more sustainable future. These fall under gender equality, peaceful and inclusive societies, access to justice for all, sustainable energy and action that combats climate change and its impact.
A new study by the Global Sustainability Institute showed a combination of factors such as ecological destruction, limited resources, population growth and climate change had led human civilisation to be in a state of risk.
The study found that New Zealand, Iceland, United Kingdom, Australia and Ireland may experience lesser effects in case of a global collapse, and that New Zealand was best suited to survive such a collapse.
Woodward Chrisp partner Ellie FitzGerald said the firm was interested in doing anything to improve its sustainability.
“We have always been really interested in being environmentally-friendly . . . and anything we can do to improve our own sustainability.
“That's why we were interested in having Debra come and talk to us.
“Climate change is something we are all right in the middle of so it was very timely,” Ms FitzGerald said.
She is keen to see more law firms practise sustainability.
“I would encourage all businesses to practise sustainability because it's a part of the legal advice aspect of what we do.
“Operating sustainably is what all businesses can do and I think a lot of businesses try to do.”
After the workshop, she had a page of different ideas ranging from electric cars, keep cups, digital signing, tree planting, beach clean-ups and a sustainability committee.
“We thought about the idea of a sustainability committee so we can keep on top of things and measure our progress — make sure we don't get excited about it initially and it falls by the wayside because we're too busy focusing on other things.
“We have about eight members of the staff who I think will be our sustainability champions at the office.”