Jay 1.png

Dr Jay Whitehead

Sustainability Expert


My focus is on maximising the widespread value created through sustainability initiatives. I work with companies to ensure they are getting the most out of their sustainability through careful analysis of sustainability hotspots, stakeholder concerns, global/national trends, and market signals. I also work with regulators and policy creators to incorporate the latest science on sustainability into the development of effective regulatory and non-regulatory interventions.

Case Studies

Below is an overview of some projects which I have led over the past few years



Social sustainability is gaining attention as a global challenge. Issues of social sustainability present either the opportunity for businesses to establish progressive leadership on important social issues or face significant reputational risks from a failure to do so. In this Project, we developed a strategic approach for Zespri to address the challenges of social sustainability assessment and reporting. We used a materiality analysis approach, a method for identifying high priority issues and strategic considerations, to identify principles to guide the development of an enhanced social sustainability program. Important social issues for Zespri to focus on were identified as well as indicators which align with these and a pathway to improved social sustainability performance for Zespri. Based on the analysis we then combined a range of different approaches to sustainability assessment and reporting, to arrive at a blended approach to address social sustainability issues in a strategic, yet focused manner. This project help provide Zespri clarity around which social sustainability issues to address and as well as providing clear strategic direction for how the issues can be addressed.

SUSTAINABLE WINEGROWING NEW ZEALAND - review of assessment system

I worked with New Zealand Winegrowers to update the Sustainable Wine New Zealand (SWNZ) scorecard. This review provided an opportunity to deploy many of the tools developed throughout the New Zealand Sustainability Dashboard Project. SWNZ are already advanced in their sustainability programmes, however, new developments in data analytics allow us to provide a much more detailed picture on what the drivers for sustainability programmes are, and what the expectations of different stakeholder groups are. This information allowed SWNZ to tightly tailor their sustainability programme to meet the expectations of regulators, consumers, international markets, and wider society.

image-asset (1).jpeg


Puro New Zealand commissioned an analysis of the New Zealand medical cannabis market to predict its expected size in the coming years. Internationally, several countries and American states have established medical cannabis industries. The global medical cannabis market is growing rapidly and has been predicted to exceed $55 billion USD by 2024. The lack of information on how the New Zealand medical cannabis scheme will operate means that there is a high degree of uncertainty in predicting the potential size of the market. To mitigate this uncertainty, we used two methods to forecast the potential New Zealand market both of which provide an ambitious and conservative estimate of size. The results suggest that there is the potential for a significant medical cannabis market to develop in New Zealand. We applied economic analysis to value an emerging market. Through this analysis we were able to provide a solid evidence base for the client.


Private Standards in New Zealand Primary Industry Sectors and a Comparison to International Best Practice - MPI

Non-regulatory standards are increasingly becoming entrenched within New Zealand (NZ) agricultural industries and enterprises. The research provided an overview of the state of NZ agricultural standards. The research had four primary components: the creation of a typology of standards and an analysis of their attributes; an investigation into the auditing procedures of the standards; an analysis of the standards’ sector coverage; and a comparison between NZ standards and international best practices.

It was found that, at a high level, the NZ standards placed the highest level of attention on health and safety practices. Issues around water, waste, and biodiversity were also addressed by the majority of domestic standards. At the other end of the spectrum were issues around the quantification of GHG emissions which no domestic standards addressed.

image-asset (2).jpeg


We conducted two formal Cost Benefit Analyses (CBA) using the New Zealand Treasury’s CBAx model for social cost benefit analysis. The Pūhoro Academy partners with a selection of secondary schools to operate a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Academy to increase Māori student engagement in STEM programmes. Pūhoro seeks to support secondary schools to prepare their Māori science students for transfer to tertiary study and from there into employment. The first CBA considered the economic value the Pūhoro Academy was producing through helping Māori students to achieve NCEA standards with an emphasis on STEM subjects. The second CBA investigated the potential economic benefit which could be generated through extending the Pūhoro Academy to tertiary education. The CBA’s provided an illustration of the power of a successful intervention in a young person’s life. The Pūhoro STEM Academy was shown to have the potential to generate significant economic benefits with the CBA demonstrating a return on investment of approximately 10:1.

image-asset (3).jpeg


There are significant positive associations between home ownership and wellbeing, however, Māori are experiencing significant declines in home ownership. Using the Christchurch Health and Development Study cohort, we analysed a range of variables to determine their affect on Māori home ownership. These variables are described at a high level by the outer ring of the diagram. From a wide range of variables, we isolated five which best predicted home ownership by age 35 in the Māori cohort.

Based on these five variables alone, we were able to predict the likelihood that a cohort member would own a house. The chart below breaks down the cohort into five groups ranging from least advantaged (Group ①) to most advantaged (Group ⑤). We see that those in the most advantaged group had rates of home ownership that were more than 8 times higher than those in the least advantaged group.




I developed interactive network maps to visualise the results of an internal Ngāi Tahu survey. Interactive network maps allow users to play with data on a website, dragging and clicking on points of interest to explore how different elements relate to each other. By making data interactive the user can tailor the results to their own interests and gain a deep understanding of the results. Ngāi Tahu were able to explore the relationship between the survey results with the overarching values which drive the iwi.



The New Zealand Sustainability Dashboard (NZSD) facilitated unified monitoring and learning for sustainable agriculture in New Zealand and aimed to enhance sustainability assessment and reporting in response to increasing market, business and regulatory drivers and requirements. I lead the development of several work streams in this project including the development of a National Sustainability dashboard to communicate global, national, regional, and industry level sustainability performance. I created new materiality assessment methods which were deployed in multiple industries. And, I lead the development of the final synthesis report and journal publications for the project.


I work with a range of clients across multiple industries and government. The one thing they all have in common is that they are all working to improve their sustainability performance and to create widespread sustainable value.

client logos.png