Australia’s manufacturing industry continues to make disproportionate contributions to Australian growth, innovation and exports, despite confronting both domestic and global challenges. Opportunities in manufacturing are plentiful: the increased push towards sustainable industry creates especially exciting possibilities. Forward-thinking manufacturers can benefit both from the use of renewable energy as a sustainable input to their businesses, and by tapping into the growing demand for manufactured inputs to sustainable energy projects. Innovative manufacturers are already seeing enormous success by diversifying and expanding their operations into these fast-growing fields.

Concurrently, manufacturing business are faced with the challenge of making their own operations ‘sustainable’. Whether motivated by a sense of moral obligation, potential cost-savings, to meet the requirements of a project bid, or to meet regulatory targets, reducing their own environmental footprint is a daunting undertaking for many businesses.

Moreover, sustainability is not just an environmental issue — though the environment and climate are understandably front of mind (particularly following the summer we’ve experienced). Sustainability is so much more: it can be defined more broadly as ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. It requires the integration of environmental, social, human and economic goals.

The impact of the drive for sustainability on the Australian economy is very real, and many economists and leading figures in the manufacturing industry have called on Government to do more – not only developing policies working towards and protecting those goals, but also supporting Australian businesses in adapting to this new world. The demand for sustainability has never been higher.

The challenge for manufacturers wanting to remain competitive today is as much about seizing opportunities as it is about solving problems. The 2020 National Manufacturing Summit will highlight the importance of such innovative, sustainable and ethical ambitions. Speakers will explore opportunities for manufacturing companies to diversify and increase revenue, cut costs, reduce risk, leverage social responsibility and minimise environmental impact. Above all, the Summit will confirm the future prosperity of Australian manufacturing will be all the stronger, if our industry makes an ambitious and creative commitment to sustainability in all aspects of our activity.