Sustainability

Why has the Community of Practice name been changed to Sustainability?

  • 1.  Why has the Community of Practice name been changed to Sustainability?

    Posted 04 March 2012 12:52

    Have you noticed that IPWEA's previous "Climate Change" Community of Practice has changed its name to "Sustainability"?

    Although there is no single, widely-accepted definition, sustainability is commonly related to the frequently-cited definition of sustainable development adopted in the 1987 Brundtland Commission Report:  ... development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

    Climate change is the most fundamental of all sustainability issues because the Earth's atmosphere protects and sustains all life forms.  Changes to the atmosphere's composition and behaviour, caused by current unsustainable practices, that reduce its capacity to support human populations will therefore compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

    Human-induced climate change is one consequence of our current lack of sustainability.  Other consequences include deteriorating air and water quality, loss of biodiversity, and wastage and depletion of limited resources.  However, because they share a common underlying cause - unsustainable practices - actions to tackle climate change are likely to produce co-benefits in regard to other sustainability problems.

    For this reason, as well as the criticality and urgency of climate change, it makes sense for the IPWEA to focus its initial sustainability efforts on climate change, particularly those aspects that its members can influence.

    We welcome comment and contributions as we develop IPWEA's new Community of Sustainability.



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    Stephen Lees
    National Director Sustainability
    IPWEA
    Sydney NSW

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  • 2.  RE:Why has the Community of Practice name been changed to Sustainability?

    Posted 05 March 2012 04:29
    Stephen,

    I happen to agree with you about climate change being a reality, and your other observations.  However, media comment and other sources suggest that lots of others (including Engineers) do not.  Changing the name of the Community of Practice will reduce some of the "heat" surrounding the topic.  I would go further and reduce the number of references to climate change, and turn around some of your comments so they are more positive and inclusive. 
     
    Those of us on either side of the "Human-induced climate change" debate can at least work together (instead of standing aside with arms folded doing nothing) if we can all agree -

    1. That some practices are unsustainable, and
    2. That we should take steps towards more sustainable practices (by improving water and air, wastage, ...depletion of natural resources, etc.), and 
    3. Thereby increase Earth's capacity to support human populations..., etc., and
    4. That after all of  the above, there may be co-benefits on climate change (if it exists).
    Thanks,  

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    Frans Brouwer
    VIC

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  • 3.  RE:Why has the Community of Practice name been changed to Sustainability?

    Posted 26 March 2012 06:12

    Hi Frans,

    Thanks for your well considered comments. My apologies for the delay in responding.

    As you have observed, one of the benefits of changing the name of our Community of Practice to Sustainability is that we can focus on practical steps that IPWEA members can take to promote sustainability, rather than getting bogged down in the increasingly-politicised debate about climate change. 

    Local councils around Australia have done a lot of good work to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions, but co-ordinated actions at the national and  international levels will be required to achieve the substantial reductions needed to slow the current rate of global climate change. In the meantime it makes sense to prepare our communities and infrastructure for the climatic changes that, according to most climate scientists, are now inevitable.  

    Australia has always experienced a wide range of extreme weather events - floods, droughts, heatwaves, bushfires, cyclones etc. - and climate change is projected to make these more extreme in many places. Adaptation actions that improve our community's capacity to cope with such extreme weather events can provide substantial benefits in the immediate future, but even greater benefits if the projected climate changes come to pass. These so-called 'no regrets' adaptation actions aim to generate net social benefits whether or not there is climate change. Rather than focussing on matters over which it has little influence, I would like to see IPWEA play a positive role by promoting 'no regrets' adaptation actions by local government.

    To that end I am keen to hear from IPWEA members about the challenges they face in implementing more sustainable solutions and their ideas on how IPWEA can help.

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    Dr Stephen Lees
    National Director Sustainability
    IPWEA
    stephen.lees@ipwea.org.au
    (m) 0412 264 187

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  • 4.  RE:Why has the Community of Practice name been changed to Sustainability?

    Posted 05 March 2012 21:50
    Stephen,

    Thank you for pointing out this change (to forum title).

    I think you are saying and I whole-heartedly support your statement:

    "Climate change is the most fundamental of all sustainability issues because the Earth's atmosphere protects and sustains all life forms."

    I would like to see the "Climate Change and Sustainability" title return to this discussion forum.

    In councils, "sustainability" applies to a lot of activities, including service delivery (sustainability), asset sustainability, financial sustainability etc.

    Sustainability around climate change is much bigger and more important than these subsets.
    The level of discussion in this forum could be diluted by having the "sustainability" forum title.
    Let us keep a focus (here) on climate change and the other effects we are having on the planet (I know this makes an assumption).

    I entered this group to be involved constructively in determining how we as Councils can contribute to environmental sustainability. Councils can and should contribute at a grass roots level in such areas as:

    Green energy (sustainable energy) usage
    "smart buildings" 
    "smart grids"
    "smart transport"
    and environmental (and resources) sustainability.

    Let's get a discussion going and develop these options and others to deliver a better world for our kids!

    Regards

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    Darron Passlow
    Asset Planning PRF
    Warringah Council
    DEE WHY NSW

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