Winter 2013

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Winter 2013


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Winter 2013 edition

The Sustainability Research Centre was formalised as one of the University of the Sunshine Coast’s flagship research concentrations in September 2007. While our work encompasses a range of disciplines and we undertake transdisciplinary research, our core focus is aligned with social, behavioural and economic sciences.

Our disciplinary focus is on the social sciences (eg geography and cultural studies). Our niche area for research projects is societal adaptation — more specifically, understanding the social dimensions of regional environmental change.

Through this focus, we make contributions to knowledge in the areas of:

  • sustainability science
  • resilience
  • adaptive capacity
  • social learning
  • capacity building
  • international development
  • institutional policy analysis
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • adaptive management
  • social capital

These contributions have application with a range of sustainability issues such as coastal management, climate change, and water management (recognised as significant at local through to international scales). We address real on-the-ground concerns of society and the environment.

This edition of the newsletter contains the following sections:

Structure and staff

In 2010, the SRC established an Advisory Board to help guide the development of research activity. The Advisory Board includes four eminent Australians.

The SRC Advisory Board includes:

  • Professor Stephen Dovers (Chair), Director of the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
  • Professor Lesley Head, Australian Laureate Fellow and immediate past President of the Institute of Australian Geographers, University of Wollongong
  • Professor Hugh Lavery, Chairman, Australian Environment International
  • Professor Bruce Thom, Former Vice Chancellor UNE, former Pro Vice Chancellor(Research) University of Sydney, former Chair NSW Coastal Council, current member of the Wentworth Group and Emeritus Professor University of Sydney.

We presently have over 65 members, which includes five core members, including a Director and Associate Director. There are an additional six CRN Fellows, nine affiliated Faculty staff, one post-doctoral researcher, and 14 Adjunct staff. We have grown to have 27 PhD students attached to the centre and four research assistants, and two administrative officers.


Our vision is to continue to win competitive research grants, deliver on research milestones and while undertaking excellent research, build a strong cohort of PhD students and create a thriving research culture and continuously refine our research niche. We aim to contribute to our body of knowledge through publications, contribute to our research impact through regional engagement and develop productive and strategic research partnerships at the regional, national and international scales.

Featured staff memberpedrofidelman_120x160

Dr Pedro Fidelman is one of the new CRN Fellows joining the Sustainability Research Centre in 2012. Before joining the University of the Sunshine Coast, Pedro was a Research Fellow with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University (2008-2011), and prior to that, in Brazil, he held postdoc positions with the Centre for Sustainable Development of the University of Brasilia and ITA Institute of Technology (2007-2008). Pedro’s research focuses, in a broad sense, on the governance of social-ecological systems. He has a particular interest in the social and institutional dimensions of environmental change with focus on collaborative decision-making, and policy and institutional analysis. Particular areas of experience include coastal and marine systems, climate change adaptation, catchment and water management, and common-pool resources governance. The geographic scope of his research includes Australia, Brazil and the Southeast Asia-Pacific region. Examples of Pedro’s research in the last few years include:

  • Climate change adaptation at multiple governance levels in the Great Barrier Reef
  • Multilateral environmental governance in the Coral Triangle
  • Challenges to the governance of large-scale marine systems in the Coral Triangle
  • Stakeholder analysis of the Coral Triangle Initiative
  • NCCARF social limits to climate change adaptation in the GBR (as co-investigator)
  • Social and institutional dimensions of water management in Brazil
  • Institutional analysis of catchment management in New South Wales

Pedro holds a BSc Hons (Oceanography/Marine Sciences) from the Federal University of Rio Grande, MSc (Geography) from the University of Sao Paulo, and PhD (Environmental Science) from the University of Wollongong.

New international projects

Climate change adaptation and water governance (CADWAGO)Neil Powell

Associate Professor Neil Powell will co-lead a three-year international research project on climate change adaptation and water governance (CADWAGO) after the joint proposal won a grant of one million Euros. This is the first joint proposal with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) that has been successful and would draw on Sunshine Coast and Australia- wide research and case studies on sustainability issues. SRC will receive about $400,000 of the grant.

The project, which started in October 2012, involves 10 research partners from Sweden, United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands, United States, Canada and Australia and will be funded by three European philanthropic organisations.

The purpose is to inform European policymaking about innovative ways of dealing with the global issues of climate change adaptation and water governance and the Australian partners will play a crucial role in communicating experiences on how Australians adapt to extreme events magnified by climate change, such as the Queensland floods.

This project will work closely with the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and, in Australia, with Griffith University and the University of Tasmania.

Asia Pacific Network for global change research (APN)

In April 2013, Pedro and Neil were awarded $50,000 for an Asia Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN) proposal ‘Supporting governance institutions for adaptive capacity to environmental change’.

The project will be looking into the capacity of societies to respond and adapt to environmental change and how that can be drastically

limited by conservative and reactive governance. The complex nature of environmental change issues (eg climate change, biodiversity loss, coastal development) calls for responsive and flexible institutional arrangements that facilitate adaptive capacity. This project will: (1) investigate the potential of existing governance institutions to facilitate adaptation

to environmental change in coastal areas of Vietnam and Cambodia, and (2) support the design and implementation of strategies (within and across countries) to cope with current and future impacts of such change. Partners associated with the project include Hue University of

Agriculture and Forestry (Vietnam) and Western University and Ministry of Environment (Cambodia).

Inuit traditional knowledge for adapting to the health effects of climate change (IK-ADAPT)Tristanpearce 220X140

Dr Tristan Pearce, who recently joined SRC as a Collaborative Research Network Fellow in Sustainability, will lead USC’s involvement in a collaborative research project with four Canadian universities.

The Inuit Traditional Knowledge for Adapting to the Health Effects of Climate Change (IK-ADAPT) project was launched in April by researchers from Canadian universities McGill, Mount Allison, Guelph and Trent, and the Institute for Circumpolar Health Research. It is a three-year northern hemisphere project to research global climate change issues. It also includes collaboration with a network of international scholars and opportunities for USC students to do fieldwork with him in the Arctic.

IK-ADAPT will combine scientific research across disciplines with Inuit traditional knowledge with six communities across Arctic Canada to help communities adapt to the health effects of climate change. The researchers will examine ways to document, conserve and promote Inuit traditional knowledge to help manage expected impacts on physical, mental and social wellbeing. USC’s work will be supported by $150,000 of the total $1.2 million grant from the Canadian Institute of Health Research.

Recently, Tristan was successful in winning Health Canada funding ($135,920) for the Nunamin Illihakvia (learning from the land) project. The project is a step towards a new Inuit-led cultural education that is dedicated to enabling the transfer of traditional knowledge, skill sets and values, based on Inuit knowledge and guiding principles in a changing climate. Specifically, this pilot project will bring together young Inuit, male and female, with experienced hunters and sewers, and Elders to learn how to travel on the sea ice and hunt seals in the winter, how

to prepare seal skins for sewing, and how to sew traditional seal skin clothing. Multimedia research and learning tools will be created by Inuit and shared in Ulukhaktok and elsewhere in the Arctic. The project aims to revive participation in winter seal hunting and traditional sewing skills, and strengthen the health of Inuit during a time of rapid climatic and societal change.

Inuit aspirations and the management of Auyuittuq National ParkChristine Jacobson

Dr Christine Jacobson recently visited Canada meeting with elders, park staff and Field Unit staff involved in management of Auyuittug National Park to explore Inuit aspirations and to examine the ways in which the objective of knowledge gathering and sharing is being applied as part of management operations, focussing on the community of Pangnirtung.

They explored the implications of a western management system for Inuit directly involved in day to day operations of park management. This, and the perspective and opportunity for youth engagement enabled us to identify the forward thinking aspirations of the community and the extent of engagement that is taking place.Christine Jacobson 2

This case study forms part of a larger study that aims to understand the common enablers and constraints to co-operative management of natural resources under different types of governance arrangements that have arisen from settling of Indigenous peoples’ grievances with government. This project is funded of Parks Canada funding to support Inuit Knowledge Working Groups in Nunavut Territory and has the potential to run for three years.

Water and reef quality and human perceptions

Commencement of 2-year project ‘Coral reef and water quality status and community understanding of threats in the eastern Gulf of Thailand’ began on 15 December 2012. This project involves research in Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand and is led at USC by A/Prof RW(Bill) Carter and A/Prof Neil Tindale, Dr Harriot Beazley and Ms Katherine Kelly.Bill Carter

It is funded through the Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research and the US National Science Foundation. The project brings together academics, resource managers and government officers from three ASEAN countries with the common problem of sustainable management of the coastal zone.

By using four major research components to assess the status and threats to marine natural resources in the contiguous coastal zones of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, the collected data will inform and promote international integration of coastal zone protection and management towards realising the vision of a tri-nation Man and Biosphere Reserve.

Partners in research

  • CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation)
  • NCCARF (National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility)
  • SCRC (Sunshine Coast Regional Council)
  • GBRMPA (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority)
  • Sydney Coastal Councils Group (SSCG)
  • Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID)
  • Oak Ridge National Labs, USA
  • Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, UK
  • Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden
  • New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute
  • German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ)
  • Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia
  • Kasetsart University, Thailand

National projects

Multi criteria approach to coastal development — prioritising coastal adaptation and development options for local governmentNational Projects Coastal Management

This project began in August 2011 and is developing information on the range of available adaptation strategies. It aims to provide guidance for NSW Councils and asset managers in how to implement feasible climate change adaptation options. A central component of this project will involve developing a multi-criteria analysis framework. The multi criteria analysis (MCA) will be designed to support consideration of diverse adaptation management alternatives around future protection, development, or redevelopment of coastal lands. The project includes ongoing interaction with local government decision-makers to better understand development considerations and to develop the criteria to evaluate adaptation options. This will take place through workshops and surveys to elicit such information as the financial cost of implementing various strategies and the perception of public acceptance/resistance to a particular strategy. One of the outcomes will be a monitoring and evaluation framework to assess the impacts of coastal decisions. The project will also enable transfer of findings to other jurisdictions through the involvement of the Sunshine Coast Council.

Developing a regional community of practice for transformative climate change education

Congratulations to Dr Dana Thomsen (Project Leader) and Dr Noni Keys for their successful Australian Government Office of Learning and Teaching grant of $30,000 (1 year) in partnership with UTas entitled Developing a Regional Community of Practice for Transformative Climate Change Education.

They will be working in partnership with Dr Aidan Davidson, Dr Emma Pharo, and Kristin Warr from the University of Tasmania. Expected outcomes will be the mapping of regional climate change education activities, a couple of professional development workshops and development of climate change teaching strategies and materials to showcase nationally on

SRC highlights

7th World Environmental Education Congress, 9–14 June 2013Lisa Ryan And Driss Houllard

Associate Professor Julie Matthews and SRC PhD students Lisa Ryan and Megan Marks journeyed to the ancient city of Marrakech to present papers at Environmental Education’s largest international conference. The conference with large representations from intergovernmental agencies including UNESCO, UNEP, IUCN, FEE and ISESCO attracted over 2400 delegates from 105 countries and focused on the theme “Seeking greater harmony between Environmental Education in cities and rural areas”. Keynote speakers, including Professor David Orr, Dr Vandana Shiva and Wanjiri Mathaai challenged delegates to think about how education can respond to complex urban and rural problems of unsustainability in ways that develop imagination, creativity and resilience, whilst still sustaining hope in the face of an increasingly uncertain future. With papers presented in Arabic, English, French,   Italian and Spanish, the congress encouraged cross-cultural dialogue and engagement with a diversity of ideas. The next World Environmental Education Congress will be held in 2015 in GÖTEBERG-Sweden.

HDR PhD students

Welcome to our recent HDR PhD students, Juana Andrade de Lucini, George Freduah, Jennie Haarsager-Lieske, Katherine Kelly, Megan Marks, Caroline Osborne, Madeline Page and Vu Canh Toan.

George Freduah tells us what drew him to the SRC:George Freduah

“I was initially attracted to the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) and specifically to the Sustainability Research Center (SRC) because of its rich research expertise in social dimensions of regional environmental change. I made a resolute decision to pursue my PhD at USC after the positive responses I received from prospective supervisors when I contacted them about the possibility of doing my PhD at the SRC. I was very happy to hear that my research interests were well aligned with the SRC. My prospective supervisors and SRC staff guided me through the program and scholarships applications process. I am thankful that my applications for admission and scholarship were successful and I am presently here as a first year PhD student from Ghana researching climate change and fisheries in Ghana.”

Annual retreat

The 2012 SRC Annual Retreat was held at the end of November in Noosa. 37 of the centre’s staff were able to attend. Deeper understanding was gained of our accomplishments and what the centre has on the boil both in present projects and those under development. The staff photo was taken at the venue. The next SRC Annual Retreat is scheduled for 21 and 22 November 2013.


We would like to congratulate Dr Noni Keys, who graduated with her PhD in April. Congratulations, as well, to Jenna Brown who graduated with a Bachelor of Environmental Science and is now doing her honours within the SRC with Tristan.

Recent publications
  • Fidelman, P, Leitch, A, Nelson, D R. (in press). Unpacking multilevel adaptation to climate change in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Global Environmental Change.
  • Jacobson, C., Manseau, M., Mouland, G., Brown, A., Nakashuk, A., Etooangat, B., Nakashuk, M., Siivola, D., Kaki, L.M.., Kapik, J., Evic, M., Kennianak, A. and Koonelieusee, D. (in press) Co-operative management of Auyuittuq National Park: moving towards greater emphasis and recognition of Indigenous peoples aspirations for the management of their lands, in Herrmann, T. and Martin, T. (eds), Indigenous peoples governance andprotected areas in the circumpolar Arctic. Springer.
  • Keys, N, Bussey, M P, Thomsen, D C, Lynam, T, Smith, T F. (in press). Building adaptive capacity in South East Queensland, Australia. Regional Environmental Change.
  • Richards, R, Sano, M, Roiko, A H, Carter, R W, Bussey, M P, Matthews, J M, Smith, T F. Pergamon; (in press). Bayesian belief modeling of climate change impacts for informing regional adaptation options. Environmental Modelling and Software.
  • Myers, S A, Blackmore, M J, Smith, T F, Carter, R W. Taylor & Francis Ltd. (2012). Climate change and stewardship: strategies to build community resilience in the Capricorn Coast. Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 19, No. 3, pp. 164-181.
  • Pearce, T, Ford, J D, Caron, A, Kudlak, B P. (2012). Climate change adaptation planning in remote, resource-dependent communities: an Arctic example, Regional Environmental Change: natural and social aspects, Vol. 12 pp. 825–837.
  • Thomsen, D C, Smith, T F, Keys, N. (2012). Adaption or Manipulation: Unpacking Climate Change Response Strategies, Ecology and Society: ajournal of integrative science for resilience and sustainability, Vol. 17, No. 3, Article 20.
  • Carter, R W, Kelly, K, Tindale, N W, Beazley, H, Worachananant, S, Worachananant, P. (2013). Water and Coral Reef Quality in the East Gulf of Thailand. APN Science Bulletin, Issue 3, pp. 101-103.
  • Foale, S, Adhuri, D, Alino, P, Allison, E H., Andrew, N, Cohen, P, Evans, L, Fabinyi, M, Fidelman, P, Gregory, C, Stacey, N, Tanzer, J, Weetatunge, N. (2013). Food security and the Coral Triangle initiative. Marine Polic, Vol. 38, pp.174-183.
  • Jacobson, C., Carter, B., Lysle, A. and Hockings, M.(2013) Improving technical information use: what can be learnt from a manager’s perspective? Environmental Management DOI 10.1007/s00267-013-0084-y (online first)
  • Pearce, T, Smit, B. (2013). Climate vulnerability: understanding and addressing threats to essential resources. Climate Vulnerability:Understanding and Addressing Threats to Essential Resources, Chapter 4.39.
  • Siddique, M, Myers, S, Smith, T F, Babcock, R, Carter, R W. (2013). Co-learning in Marine Protected Areas for Integrated Coastal Zone Management. Global Challenges in Integrated Coastal Zone Management, pp.192-205.
  • Smith, T F, Low Choy, D, Thomsen, D C, Newumann, S, Crick, F, Sano,   M, Richards, R, Harman, B, Baum, S, Myers, S, Sharma, V, Bussey, M P, Matthews, J M, Roiko, A H, Carter, R W. (2013). Coastal climate change adaptation in Australia. Climate Change and the Coast: Building Resilient Communities, Chapter 10.
  • Smith, T F, Thomsen, D C, Gould, S, Schmitt, K, Schlegel, B. (2013). Cumulative pressures on sustainable livelihoods:  coastal adaptation in the Mekong Delta. Sustainability, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 228-241.
  • Taylor, C S, Carter, J. (2013). The Agency of Dolphins: Towards Inter- species Embassies as Sites of Engagement with ‘Significant Otherness’. Geographical Research, Vol. 51, No. 1, pp. 1-10.

More information

For more information contact:

Jeannette Oliver
Tel: +61 7 5456 5975 

Gail Wilkins 
Tel: +61 7 5459 4891 

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