On 29-30 October 2015 over 130 environmental practitioner delegates attended the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand's annual conference in Perth, Western Australia. The conference theme was Challenging the Status Quo: Excellence in Environmental Practice.
Through a sequence of interactive sessions the delegates were asked to identify a statement of issues, actions and priorities for the development of good practice environmental management to inform debate and discussion within the Institute and the wider community.
A four stage process of brainstorming, prioritising, identification of solutions and statements, and formulation of a declaration was followed.
For the Brainstorming stage, delegates were asked to provide one answer each to the following four questions:
- Where are environmental practitioners currently adding most value?
- What is the most significant environmental issue facing us as a Country?
- From your perspective, what is the biggest barrier to improved environmental practice and why?
- Looking across government, industry and the community, what is the biggest barrier to improved environmental management and why?
Answers to Questions 2-4 were grouped according to topic theme.
The five most commonly mentioned themes were:
- Economic issues
- Political issues
- Process issues
- Social and community (people) issues
- Science/research issues
For the Prioritisation stage, delegates worked in groups on a single theme topic. Groups were asked to prioritise the top five issues for their theme; each delegate then voted for their top three important issues. Working in small groups, delegates were provided with two or three of these top 10 issues.
In the context of the overall framing question of: 'What will you commit to doing, to challenge the status quo?', delegates were asked to identify and report back to the whole group on three specific key actions for the issues they discussed. The Declaration that follows emerged from these statements.
The EIANZ 2015 Conference Declaration
We will challenge the status quo surrounding current environmental management practices and promote effective action at the individual, practitioner community and society level. We recognise that strategies need to be implemented at local, regional and global scales.
We care about the major environmental challenges facing Australia and New Zealand, such as climate change, biodiversity and habitat loss, land and water degradation, unsustainable consumption, and short-term economic focuses.
We will call upon our strength in communicating complex information in ways that convey clear environmental protection messages in a positive and proactive manner. We will use language that others relate to and adopt contemporary communication approaches in order to strengthen environmental understanding within industry and the community.
A shared understanding of the problems and solutions provides a platform for transparent and robust decisions. To this end we will collaborate more with industry groups, other associations, scientists and educators.
We will take a stand for the environment drawing upon rigorous evidence-based science, and our skills in technical analysis to communicate the issues, risks and needs of the environment to industry, government and the community.
We will refocus our energies at both private and professional levels, recognising the power of people to drive change. The environment is for everyone and transcends political interests.
We recognise excellence in environmental practice leads to a better outcome for the environment. We commit to act as advocates for the environment and to be change agents individually and collectively.
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