Published 18 December 2019
Over the past year, research at the Sydney Environment Institute has lead us from the atolls of the Great Barrier Reef to the coastline of the Great Australian Bight; from the depths of uranium mines in Kakadu to copper mines in Sweden; from the mangrove forests of Fiji to the drought stripped riverines of the Murray Darling; from the banks of the Cooks River to the skyscrapers of the Sydney CBD.
Through our events, research and conversations, we have been exploring these environments as more than just places — instead, as inextricably interlinked spaces inhabited by and with community. We have been practising the art of listening; hearing the voices that have gone unheard, highlighting injustices too often overlooked, integrating knowledge and experience to instigate truly inclusive justice and radical change.
Here are just a couple of the initiatives we have worked on over the past year:
A large focus for 2019 has been industry and business engagement, particularly looking at the financial sector and corporate response to climate change.
The Business Making of Climate Change series, held in May and June, brought together investors, lawyers, insurers, corporates, consultants and scientists for three panel discussions to collectively consider why climate change is increasingly relevant to the corporate sector.
- Series chair Tanya Fiedler explores the seemingly simple affirmation that ‘the fastest path to decarbonisation is in the framing of climate change as a financial and economic risk’.
Sustainability on Campus and Beyond
From sustainable futures here on campus to just food system transitions, we have supported and collaborated with some amazing partner organisations to make some huge and exciting changes within our local community and beyond.
This September, SEI Director David Schlosberg and Luke Craven launched their new volume with Oxford University Press, Sustainable Materialism: Environmental Movements and the Politics of Everyday Life.
Here on campus, the University announced an ambitious new Sustainability Strategy, which will use a collaborative ‘Living Lab’ model to develop a sustainable future for the University. In May, the SEI partnered with the University of Sydney Union for the inaugural USU Sustainability Week.
In collaboration with City of Sydney and TAFE NSW we launched FoodLab Sydney, a program designed to address food insecurity and kickstart sustainable careers in food systems.
- Chief Investigator Alana Mann reflects here on how we can build resilient communities across the city.
Fighting for the Great Australian Bight
Often overlooked in favour of the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Australian Bight is an astonishingly biodiverse and unique ecosystem, but it is currently under threat by Norwegian oil-mining giant Equinor’s proposed plans to drill for oil. In late April, the SEI convened a group of academic and industry experts and community leaders to consider key issues around drilling in the Bight and the failures in Equinor’s environmental plan.
In a pro-bono special report and open letter, the experts called on regulatory body NOPSEMA to hold Equinor to international best-practice standards, stating that Equinor’s “overconfidence” in its ability to prevent a major spill could lead to catastrophic environmental impacts.
- Researcher Brett Morgan on the extraordinary risks of deep-sea drilling in the Great Australian Bight.