the 2009 sustainability convergence 'breakthrough: from recession to sustainability'

As we face a looming financial crisis, what are the threats and opportunities to social and environmental movements? Melbourne, February 14

Sustainable Living Foundation, Friends of the Earth, and Greenleap Strategic Institute present

the 2009 sustainability convergence

'breakthrough: from recession to sustainability'

Supported by:

* Climate Positive,
* DesignInc,
* Environment Victoria,
* Global Sustainability (RMIT University City Campus),
* the Institute for Sensible Transport,
* Melbourne Social Forum, and
* Village Well

As we face a looming financial crisis, what are the threats and opportunities to social and environmental movements?

How do we break the 'business as usual' model? How do we 'bail out' the planet? This convergence seeks to bring together people from across Melbourne to start to develop a pathway through the recession to a sustainable economy. What would this look like and how we would we get there? What about livelihood and good work, what about community resilience? What about our place in the world? How do we respond effectively to the looming crisis of climate change? And what does this mean for the social and environmental movements in the short term?

This one day forum will look at the opportunities and threats connected to the economic downturn – political, financial, cultural. We will look at hope and fear (and how we can speak in frames not of opposition but of hope and determination), sketch out pathways to a better future, and  how we could get to a safe climate economy in 10 years.

We will also consider how we could make Melbourne a sustainable city – one that is compact, people friendly, based on public transport, renewable energy, biodiversity and food production.

There will be a session for workshops – you are welcome  to send proposals in before the conference


saturday February 14, 9am – 5pm


Northcote High School, St Georges road,
Take tram line 112 towards West Preston, stop 26


Low income - $15
Waged - $25 (no one excluded through lack of funds)

to register:

Please pre-register if possible so we have a sense of numbers (you can still just show up on the day). Email your details (name, address, organisation if relevant) to Cam (details below).

If you felt like pre-paying, that would be welcome, please send a cheque made out to Friends of the Earth to sustainability convergence, c/- FoE, Box 222, Fitzroy, 3065.

We will provide morning and afternoon tea.

There will be lunch available for sale on the day at a reasonable price. You are also welcome to BYO or else there are a fair number of food stores a 10 minute walk away on St Georges road in North Fitzroy.

PLEASE bring a cup and a plate if at all possible – this will make washing much easier for us


If you require childcare please let us know as soon as possible. We will provide free childcare if we have notice of at least one week before the convergence.

Community groups are welcome to hold a stall.

Please let us know and include some basic details on your group so we can include in the convergence handbook. There will be tables available at the school. We ask groups to contribute $10 for the day.

For further information on the convergence:

Cam at FoE: 03 9419 8700,


This is the third sustainability convergence – details on the first two can be found here:

draft agenda

For extra information about the speakers and presenters, please check here.

agenda - updated on Feb 12

Registration from 8.30am. Join us for a cuppa

9am Session 1: Setting the scene

introduction/ welcome/ acknowledge country: Giselle Wilkinson/ Cam Walker

what is the crisis? How did it develop? How hard will it impact on us in Australia?
What will it mean for green and social justice organisations?

9.15/     context: what is coming with climate change – what will it mean for Melbourne? How must we respond? [Dr Penny Wetton]

9.25/     Reportback from climate summit – what does this mean for the climate movement? [Ellen Roberts, Friends of the Earth]

9.35/     where did the downturn come from and how bad could it get. [Kenneth Davidson, social commentator]

9.50/ discussion/ Q&A

10.05am Economic imperatives and opportunities

In a time of crisis, there is less funding available for destructive projects. Yet at the same time, there are always proposals to 'build our way' out of recession, meaning a flurry of crazy or ill-conceived and often destructive projects. What are these likely to be, and where. How can we respond and be ready for them? How do we stop thinking just as individual groups and start acting as a movement when it comes to these threats?


10.10/ Speaker:
·    on likely size and locations of new developments (this will be especially in the north of Australia but include projects around the country) (Cam Walker)

Hope and fear.

In a time of financial crisis, some people turn inward. They give less, are less active in the social realm, and become more conservative. On the other hand, others look for hope in social action, volunteerism, and visions of a better world. The notion of capitalism has been rocked by the crisis in the US and subsequent bailout. What visions do we have of a better future?

10.20/        sketching out the social and political trends and highlight instances where alternative programs or visions are 'breaking through'
10.30/        followed by a quick session where people can briefly chat about their reaction and what it brings up for them (in pairs)

10.40/     BREAK

11am/      Session 2: pathways to a better future

While the community wants action on climate change, the federal government won't move too far because of fear about the economy. Meanwhile we all live on the back of the minerals boom, which brings huge climate and ecological costs with it. We have an opportunity to break the current impasse we see in society. This will require a sense of urgency, a coherent vision of a better world, and a pathway for getting there.


11.05am/      going for a safe climate economy in 10 years: what is our preferred future, where we need to be in 2020, and what we must achieve in the next 2 years to get society onto the new path [Matthew Wright, Beyond Zero Emissions]

11.15am/     Carbon Down and Business Up - how 'sustainable business thinking' can help NGOs and community groups prosper [Geoff Gourley, Turn Me Green]

11.25am/     how can we speak in frames not of opposition but of hope and determination – of re-localisation, ecological sustainability, thriving communities, social justice, internationalism? What is our vision of a better world, and how would we get there? [Giselle Wilkinson ]

11.35am/     Melbourne as a sustainable city – compact, people friendly, based on public transport, renewable energy, biodiversity and food production [Dr Michael Buxton, Associate Professor Environment and Planning, RMIT University]

11.45am/     re-localised food production [Wendy Van Dort, Port Phillip Urban Fresh Food Network]

11.55am/ discussion/ responses/ Q&A/ quick stretch

12.05pm/     transport & peak oil [Elliot Fishman, Institute for Sensible Transport]

12.15pm/     The Transition Town model [Andrew Lucas]

12.25pm/      Getting ourselves in hot water - The ongoing and persistent effort to put not-for-profit manufacturing cooperatives, producing solar hot water units initially and then the full range of green technologies, into the Australian Economy; this will be the development of a new social sector of the economy which will give us not just a new direction but the capacity for a rapid uptake of it [Dave Kerin]

12.35pm/      it appears that there is a growing gap between those who 'get it' and those who don't. What are the implications of this, how can we manage this situation and improve it so there isn't a future chasm between different parts of society over sustainability. [Russell Fisher]

12.45pm/      discussion/ responses/ Q&A

1.00pm/      LUNCH

2.10pm/    session three

the practicalities.

As money gets tighter, there is a good chance the 'movement' gets more cautious and that smaller groups will go under. How do we keep groups strong, active and visionary?

2.15pm/      Greening the recession/ 'recession proofing' your organisation [Dave West]

2.25pm/     new methods of organising – survival in difficult times – 'new frugalism' – gleaning, guerrilla gardening, community gardens, social and political opportunities, etc [Adam, Eat the Suburbs]

2.35pm/     discussion/ responses/ Q&A

session 4:
2.50pm workshops – open space

open space facilitator: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694

There will be large sheets up near registration – with space to add your own workshops or find out where each is being held. Please add your name at the start of the day so we get a sense of numbers.

Some current proposals (see below for more details):

*  Frame the debate: speak your climate-friendly narrative (Daniel Voronoff) 
* Carbon trading: why the market can't fix global warming (Speaker Chris Breen, facilitated by Judy McVey)
*  Holistic Sustainability, Are you yet competent? (Daniel Kiag)
*  Is Overconsumption the Problem? (Trent Hawkins)
*  Non authoritarian responses to climate change (Ellen Roberts)
* Facilitating across diverse interests (Ed McKinley)

4pm/     BREAK

4.15pm/ session 5: final plenary

the aim is to send people out with a renewed sense of hope and opportunity, and clarity about how their local work ties into something bigger.


4.20pm/     summary of the key themes that have arisen during the day [Janet Rice]

4.30pm/     sketching out some hopeful directions forward [Giselle Wilkinson, Michelle Isles]

4.40pm/     final discussion/ responses/ Q&A/ announcements from the floor

Finish by 5pm


Details on the WORKSHOPS

Please feel free to send workshop proposals to

The workshops run for 70 minutes.

* Frame the debate: speak your climate-friendly narrative

We often hear or talk about 'framing' a debate, discussion or discourse. The global warming sceptics have used framing well with the use of terms and phrases such as 'clean coal' or 'it costs too much to pay for the nvironment' or 'its China's fault'.

This workshop gives practical tools for:

*  Revealing sceptical frames;
*  Responding to sceptical frames (and keeping your cool); and
*  Constructing your own climate-friendly frames and narratives based on speaking progressive values.

This is a shortened version of a successful one-day workshop that helps climate action groups to talk about what they're on about and where they're coming from. It brings together insights from cognitive linguistics and social psychology to form subtle but powerful tools for communicating a climate-friendly narrative to people everywhere.

Daniel Voronoff

* "Carbon trading: why the market can't fix global warming"

Speaker Chris Breen, facilitated by Judy McVey.

* Holistic Sustainability, Are you yet competent?

Daniel Kiag, Australia's First Treaty (Indigenous Aboriginal Embassy & Habitat Creation)

Our discussion and presentation will cover the topic "Holistic Sustainability, Are you yet competent?"

We will cover the 5 step competencies which will achieve for the first time in Australia and the World a economic, social and environmental pathway to holistic Sustainability.
We will illustrate with the symbol for holistic sustainability and accompaning MAScot how We can all come together in Harmony for Sustainability.

Daniel Kiag
Habitat Creation
mobile 0409202037
One country, one people, and one home
Let's dream and share for all our children's future

* Is Overconsumption the Problem?

Presenter: Trent Hawkins

Is climate change caused by the too many people consuming too much; are we all going to have to consume less; and is population control necessary to acheive a safe climate?

This workshop will discuss why production under the current economic system, not consumption, is the problem and investigate how we can make an industrialised economy meet both the needs of the people and of the planet.

* Non authoritarian responses to climate change

Ellen Roberts

* Facilitating across diverse interests

We at Commonground/ Groupwork Institute are increasing interested in exploring how good facilitation can be used to bring people together across great diversity to pool our ideas and find better ways forward together on controversial issues. This very much includes those folk who we generally seriously don't agree with. We reckon that we need 'the wisdom of all' to find genuinely sustainable solutions to the many challenges we all face.

This workshop will explore the pooling of ideas and issues around how to do this well. We will model in this session - a process that could be used for this 'deep end' of facilitation work

Ed McKinley
Groupwork Institute of Australia
31 Rennie St, Thornbury, Melbourne, 3071
Ph: 03 9443 8500