Welsh business told to think global, act local

Ministers have been promoting the benefits of a sustainable Wales to business leaders in Cardiff this week.

Three Welsh Assembly ministers have been speaking to some 400 conference delegates, reiterating how buying local produce, cutting down on waste and using less energy can have a real effect on global issues such as climate change as well as improving a company's profits.

Speaking at the ARENA Network's Sustainable Wales conference on the part the private sector has to play in helping the country make environmental progress, Minister for Economic Development and Transport Andrew Davies said: "Regardless of size, all businesses have a role to play in the development of a more sustainable environment.

"Many leading Welsh companies have already achieved substantial cost savings, improved operational performance and enhanced their corporate reputation through an increased use of sustainable practices.

"Today's conference will help businesses to take a serious look at what they can do to further improve their environmental performance, and how they can take advantage of the significant benefits arising from a more sustainable approach."

Minister for Finance, Local Government and Public Services Sue Essex said that the public sector also had a duty to lead by example.

"The public sector in Wales is a major driver of economic activity and can lead on the principles of sustainable development," she said.

"Procurement is probably one of the best tools to achieve this, and if we get it right can give tangible integrated economic, environmental and social benefits.

"The public sector in Wales has real purchasing power, spending over £4billion each year. That money must be spent wisely.

"To this end, in December 2004, I launched the Sustainable Procurement Programme to support and guide public sector organisations in their purchasing activity."

Minister for Environment, Planning and Countryside Carwyn Jones said: "The Welsh Assembly Government is leading the drive to ensure as many Welsh food producers as possible can bid to supply the public sector.

"Serving local produce not only benefits local SMEs but also reduces the environmental impact of transportation of goods.

"With a market worth around £60million each year, it is an opportunity that Welsh producers can't afford to ignore.

"This week I have been pleased to announce that a deal has been reached by Welsh Health Supplies which ensures that all Welsh NHS Trusts serve Welsh beef, a contract worth an estimated £750,000 annually."

By Sam Bond



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