Action on our Future Environment

Kristin: Today, in honour of World Environment Day I am attending a lunch that follows efforts by school children to clean-up their local area. They’ve been armed with tongs and gloves and are acting to do their bit. This is the third event I will have attended in Adelaide this week that focuses on taking action on the opportunities offered by a greater focus on the environment.

Wednesday was a forum for the book ‘Opportunities Beyond Carbon’ edited by John O’Brien. The book was launched at an event hosted by CEDA which featured several of the authors talking, not about the problems posed by climate change, but rather the opportunities presented by the transition to a low carbon economy. My chapter focuses on how we perceive the future and on the potential opportunities of nanotechnology. I discuss needing a new vision for the future – one that doesn’t consider technology as energy intensive, and one that doesn’t view sustainability as ‘going without’. One pathway to a new vision might be through nanotechnology; in particular the potential of nanotechnology to deliver targeted and precise solutions that minimise resource waste. This feature of nanotechnology is demonstrated in medicine, materials and renewable energies and something we are working hard to create in our commercialisation venture CleanFutures.

The book launch and seminar was also sponsored by The Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide, which was itself launched on Thursday night. The Director of this new centre is water expert, Prof Mike Young. You can hear a podcast of Mike’s speech here, and how he speaks about the idea of ‘three revolving doors’ – a way of describing how the Institute will engage with government, business and the community (Mike Seyfang’s blog summaries this well). However the image that stuck with me from Mike’s speech was him talking about his father’s interest in the Murray-Darling. He noted that the environment is an area of concern and interest for everyone and everyone wants to see positive change.

My mantra this World Environment Day is action. Like the children picking up rubbish, the call to act on ‘opportunities beyond carbon’ and the call by The Environment Institute not just to grow ideas, but to work with government, business and community to see change happen. It’s exciting to be part of a community with such committment.


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