Queen's Birthday Honours 2016: Sir Robert Fenwick

Rob Fenwick has been knighted in the Queen's Birthday honours list.

Sir Robert, who has been made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to conservation and business, tells NBR “It’s a great honour and I feel very humbled by it.”

He notes the dual citation is “slightly unusual” and says the most satisfying aspect of the honour is the way in which it acknowledges the progress that has been made over the past decade in getting “the business community to understand its wider responsibility for a sustainable environment,” an evolution in attitude that’s been achieved “through the efforts of many people.”

“The work of the Sustainable Business Council, which represents more than one hundred of our largest companies, and the Sustainable Business Network, which represents thousands of our smaller companies, is indicative of a real shift,” he says.

Although he’s co-founded a number of successful businesses, most notably Living Earth – the country’s first and largest organic waste processing company – Sir Robert says he suspects “the recognition is not so much for my personal business interests but how we’ve worked with others to instil the principles of sustainability across the whole business community.”

Sir Robert’s significant personal contributions to environmental sustainability over the past 30 years has included terms as chairman of Antarctica NZ initiating the Antarctic Research Institute, chairing the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge, leading the development of New Zealand’s waste strategy and serving as inaugural chairman of the government’s Waste Advisory Board, co-founding and chairing the Business Council for Sustainable Development, and sitting on the Department of Conservation advisory board.

His current environmental focus is largely on the Predator Free New Zealand campaign he helped “cobble together,” along with Kiwi Trust and the programme it’s launched to save New Zealand’s national symbol from extinction.

“Kiwi populations are declining by -2% a year and the government has agreed to support the trust’s strategy of harnessing community conservation groups to protect habitats on private land, where 50% of kiwi live,” Sir Robert says.

“As a result, we’re optimistic we can reverse that decline.”

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