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From the chair

By Jo McCoy- Chair 

Welcome to the Summer edition of Connector.  I want to start on a high note by thanking everyone who came along to our 2023 AGM and the following 20th Anniversary Celebrations held in Hastings on 29 November.  It was heartening to be able to welcome some of the key community protagonists who played crucial roles in the establishment of the Foundation over two decades ago.  

Together with staff, directors, partners and stakeholders, we had a fabulous evening reflecting on our past, showcasing our current work, and looking towards the future.  Guests were treated to keynote presentations from inaugural chair Rob Gell and Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Gillian Sparkes. These were followed by a Q&A panel that also included Willum Warrain CEO, Uncle Peter Aldenhoven who spoke about our Healing Water Country partnership, and our own CEO Mel Barker. 

For a full rundown of the evening, including links to the 2023 Impact Report, our new 2023-2028 Strategic Plan, plus the presentations and lots of great images, please click on AGM and 20th Anniversary Celebrations – Western Port Biosphere on our website. 

 

 

 

It’s now been a few weeks since the end of the COP28 summit in Dubai. There were some positive outcomes from this latest talkfest for nearly 100,000 delegates, especially if you look at the official website (and note the logo looks remarkably like ours!).  

Many climate activists, however, were left angry and disappointed by the lost opportunities.  In the face of fierce opposition from the likes of Saudi Arabia and Russia, fossil fuels were explicitly named in the event’s final text, but drafts referring to their phase out were abandoned. Instead, we ended up with a reference to “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science”. Let’s hope it’s enough. 

Compare too, the names of the 159 countries who endorsed the “Declaration on Agriculture, Food and Climate” and the 143 who signed on to the “Declaration on Climate and Health” to the mere 13 that signed the “Declaration on Climate Finance” which sought to unlock the investment required to meet earlier commitments.  This last one, for example, included the UK, USA, France, Germany and India but not Australia.  For analysis of what COP28 achieved and what it failed to do, see these articles from the Sydney Morning Herald and Chatham House.   

In circling back to some of the key themes about which the Biosphere will be focused in coming years, I was interested to read a recent article on LinkedIn Five Big Ideas that will change sustainability in 2024  There remains room for optimism! 

And that brings us to the end of another year.  I opened with thanks and will finish with some more, this time by giving a big shout-out to the core Biosphere team, led by our CEO Mel and supported by Glenn Brooks-Macmillan, Lucy Kyriacou and Jess Brady. Throw in the likes of Lance Lloyd, Kelly Smith, Kat Palthe, Stephen Brend, Cindy Devonport and Tahlia Cruise who have worked on various projects throughout the year, and we have a great group. Thanks too to all the Foundation’s directors, especially our Treasurer Geoff Brooks and Secretary Isabelle Higgins for their dedicated work in supporting the team.   

Please feel free to write to me at [email protected] if you have any comments or suggestions for issues or updates that you would like to see included on the website and/or addressed in future editions of Connector.