The retail industry cannot wait for governments to take the lead on sustainability issues, according to the boss of Woolworths.

The Australian grocery chain’s chief executive, Michael Luscombe, told delegates at the Global Forum Summit it was time for the retail sector to take action.

“The world is telling us now we have missed the point,” he said. “We are in a unique position to show leadership [and] cannot wait for governments to show us the way. Time is too short.”

He urged retailers of all sizes to actively embrace sustainability across their whole business.

“The most powerful engine you have for change is your people. It won’t happen if we leave it just to the likes of Walmart and the Tesco,” Luscombe said. “I don't want to have to explain to my children that I had the chance and I didn't step up to be counted.”

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