March 4, 2021


Framework ranks top environmental, sustainability priorities in Australia's beef industry


The Australian Beef Sustainability Framework has released its latest Materiality Review, outlining and ranking what it has identified as the top environmental and sustainability priorities for Australia's beef industry.


The ABSF review was based on an initial materiality assessment back in 2016 and the key objectives for 2020 reviewed and confirmed the range of topics that are material to the Australian beef industry. It assessed the consistent application of evolving sustainability related standards in the ongoing development of the framework and sought the feedback of key stakeholders on both the material topics and ABSF's progress.


The Sustainability Steering Group (SSG) undertook a project to review and update the current list of topics and scopes through a 2020 materiality review.


The latest review identified and prioritised topics that reflect the beef industry's significant economic, environmental and social impacts or those that substantively influence the assessments and decisions of stakeholders.


The review included an initial desktop review of material topics for the Australian beef industry and refining topics through the first round of consultation with industry and external stakeholders and experts.


The second round of consultation involved an online survey, online producer forums, prioritisation of material topics based on input from the online survey and expert input, and a final validation by the SSG of the prioritised list of material topics and scopes.


Concerning stakeholders, 55 was interviewed, 57 were directly engaged in a forum, and more than 200 responded on the online survey.


The material topics were prioritised, after two rounds of consultation based on the industry's economic, environmental and social impact, and the topic's influence on stakeholders' decisions concerning the industry.


Topics were ranked and was categorised under the three framework theme of animal welfare, environmental stewardship and economic resilience. High priority areas included animal husbandry, livestock health and welfare, processing practices, livestock transport, greenhouse gas emissions and carbon capture, biodiversity, soil health, forests, woodlands and grasslands, climate change resilience, biosecurity and water.


The materiality review recommended reviewing the current themes, priorities, indicators and progress of ABSF, in light of the results of the assessment, and to identify gaps, strengths and weaknesses.


The review also encouraged research on emerging topics such as land tenure, Indigenous peoples' access, human rights and labour practices.


Additionally, the review recommended investigating contested and interrelated topics such as biodiversity, ground cover, land use and land conversion and expanding stakeholder engagement activities to directly include underrepresented groups such as Indigenous Australians and organisations involved in livestock transport.


 - Beef Central