‘We are in an environmental crisis – what are we waiting for?’

24 February 2023

It is one of the biggest issues of our time. An expert panel hosted by the University of Notre Dame Australia agreed that society needs to be braver in its sustainability efforts.

On Wednesday night (February 22) the University hosted a sustainability panel discussion at its Sydney Broadway campus to explore the environmental predicaments being faced for current and future generations.

An audience of more than 70 people including staff, students, alumni, industry and members of the community took part in a passionate discussion about how we can do more to care for our planet.

The panel consisted of Notre Dame Alumni, including NSW Minister for the Environment and Heritage, the Honourable James Griffin, Food Entrepreneur Samantha Cook, Local Government Councillor for the City of Randwick Danny Said and the University’s Senior Lecturer in Sustainability and Organisation, Dr Alessandro Bressan.

The panellists shared their insights on the scale of the problem and progress being made to live more sustainably across multiple fronts, including infrastructure, waste, food and ecosystems, and government policy.

Academic and Senior Lecturer Dr Alessandro Bressan said we need to acknowledge the traditional owners of our land who have been caring for the earth for thousands of years.

“We need to speed up our actions. It’s a privilege to work with a new generation of leaders and to share knowledge across the community.

We are in an environmental crisis–what are we waiting for?”

The Honourable James Griffin, Minister for the Environment and Heritage told the audience that he believes we have turned a corner but agrees it is up to the people to make a difference.

“There is a role for government to intervene and also to create a market and incentivise, but the purchasing power of people and the ballot box also are important, and it belongs to everybody,” he said.

Councillor Danny Said shared the sentiment and urged people to act responsibly when discarding waste considering the longstanding issues with landfill across the globe.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 84 per cent of all plastic is sent straight to landfill. More than 40 per cent of all waste is sent straight to landfill, with space running out.

“Put the right waste in the right bin. It is an education for everyone,” Clr Danny Said said.

Other ways of thinking locally and acting globally were presented in the need to be more sustainably conscious when shopping, driving and eating.

Entrepreneur and co-founder of plant-based food company Flave, Samantha Cook highlighted how food innovation through technology and community action is key to the solution.

“We need to make it more affordable for consumers. People are inherently good, but hard-wired… there is a need for government intervention to help farmers to adapt and evolve,”.

“Work is already being conducted in various capacities to improve the environment, participants were invited to pursue spaces in which they can make their own contributions, especially within communities where more buy-in is needed, to cover more ground that will yield a successful future.

As citizens of this nation we need to fully understand and appreciate the role we play into sustaining our environment and the future. Work being conducted at the moment needs a lot of support and buy-in from the communities to derive success,” alumnus of Notre Dame Samantha Cook said.

Other panellists shared the view that the issue was multilayered and needed to be addressed on a range of fronts.

The panellists applauded the collaboration of industries on tackling the need for a more sustainable planet.

“Our role as a university is to provide a platform for these discussions to keep happening, to shed light on the work that needs to continue to be done and to gain success in this area,” Dr Alessandro concluded.

Media Contact: media@nd.edu.au