Winter 2015

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Winter 2015


Winter 2015 edition

This edition of the newsletter includes the following sections:

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Featured staff member Sarah Connor Sarah-Connor.jpg

The SRC is pleased to welcome Sarah Connor, who joined the centre on 1 June 2015 as Network Coordinator to support the Social, Economic and Institutional Dimensions Research Network (SEI Network) of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF).

A consortium of research partners is embarking on the 2nd phase of the SEI Network (previously hosted by the University of Melbourne), including the University of the Sunshine Coast (host), University of Adelaide, University of Canberra, Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, Murdoch University, and Swinburne University of Technology. The consortium is funded for 2 years through NCCARF and the Australian Government.

The goals of the SEI Network are to: maintain national adaptation research capability; and strengthen the capacity of end-users in Australia to use adaptation research outputs.

Sarah is appropriately qualified for the role with more than fifteen years experience in the field of environmental science, natural resource management programs and community based natural resource management. Sarah has worked in many locations around Australia, particularly in Northern Australia, and is passionate about linking the science world with all stakeholders.

New Healthy Waterways Executive Scientific Advisory Committee

Prof Tim Smith has been appointed to the new Healthy Waterways Executive Scientific Advisory Committee. This committee will provide high level scientific advice across environmental, social and economic disciplines, to inform and improve waterway management actions.

Community resilience research funding 

 Dr Chris Jacobson has led a successful APN (Asia Pacific Network for Global Change Research) proposal as part of the Climate Adaptation Fund. The project (Optimising climate change adaptation through enhanced community resilience) has been funded to the value of $59,588 and will run over 12 months.

The partners include:

  • USC: Dr Chris Jacobson (lead), Prof Patrick Nunn, Prof Tim Smith
  • Vietnam: Dr Phong Tran (Institute for Social and Environmental Transitions) and Dr Tuan Tran (Hue University of Agirculture and Forestry)
  • Cambodia: HE Emtotim Sieng (Rector, University of Battambang) and HE Kim Nong (Deputy Director, Ministry of Environment)

This project aims to address the following policy research questions through the development and testing of a toolkit for rapid appraisal of community resilience in rural communities in Cambodia and Vietnam: (1) What is the relationship between community resilience and climate change vulnerability?; (2) How can community resilience best be strengthened in rural communities?; and (3) How can community resilience assessments be used to inform national and subnational adaptation planning?

Think Tank Sessions 

Prof Mike Hefferan, Prof Tim Smith and Dr Dana Thomsen have presented at Think Tank sessions initiated by the Sunshine Coast Business Council to explore ways to grow the Sunshine Coast’s economy sustainability. The sessions include developers, environmentalists, academics and local government.

New Film on the Mary River

Film director, Dr Lila Singh-Peterson, documented how agriculture is under threat as a result of local and global pressures to the Mary River catchment. The film, produced with funding from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, features local Mary Valley food producers discussing changes to agriculture and their concerns about the future. The film is an excellent case study of both the challenges faced by agriculture and the strategies that can be put in place to address these challenges.

The SRC makes its presence known in the media

Professor Patrick Nunn’s research on Aboriginal stories of sea-level rise has gained a lot of publicity, particularly for USC. The publicity stemmed initially from a piece Patrick and fellow linguist colleague wrote in January of this year for The Conversation. It had 18,244 reads.

USC is also specifically named in the following media reports:

Also in the following newspapers:

  • Sydney Morning Herald on 14 February 2015
  • The Times of London on 29 January 2015

Patrick’s research on myths has also received BBC publicity.

Up close with Christiana Figueres 

In May 2015, SRC Honours & Masters students, Rachele Wilson & Evelyn H. Rodriguez took the opportunity to listen to Christiana Figueres, Secretariat for the UNFCCC, talk about the upcoming COP21 and how the new framework will work. She spoke at an event organised by and 1 Million Women at the Sydney Theatre Company.

They were welcomed by the Sydney Theatre Company, where the venue’s spokeswoman explained how the theatre was happy to host such an event due to their shared concern for climate change action, describing their recent 40% GHG emissions reductions from 2010 to 2014. A Wiradjuri woman, Aunty Millie, welcomed them to Gadigal country and explained her personal belief that all Australians are custodians of this country, that through our connections to the land we are united and must act as such when making decisions that impact our environment. The host organisations gave their welcomes as well and introduced Christiana, who outlined what the UNFCCC are trying to do in Paris this December through posing and answering seven questions:

Q1. Are we trying to stunt or accelerate growth (in the context of developing countries and resource-rich countries like Australia)?
Answer This aims to protect and support the existing wave of development, on renewables. It’s about positioning us for a new stage of growth.

Q2. Is it about “solving” climate change in Paris?
Answer We are not going to solve climate change in Paris. We’re going to construct a long term framework and establish a pathway for different countries through Internal National Carbon Management Plans (INCMP). For example, China announced it will peak emissions in 2030 and phase out coal usage by 2050. We’re acknowledging that we’re going to be taking everyone to peak emissions before reductions.

Q3. Is this a bottom-up approach? Or a top-down approach that responds to science?
Answer It’s both. Bottom-up, based on what countries will put in through those INCMPs, but top-down in that we must reach that long term, collective goal. Progress towards targets will be monitored through an international monitoring system that requires nations to report regularly.

Q4. Is this going to be facilitative or purgative?
Answer We know from Kyoto that legal, strict structures are neither effective, nor predictable. Therefore we will use incentives, which will open up broader participation.

Q5. Is this going to be an agreement of the major emitters (i.e. the top 20 countries)?
Answer There is not one country that has been, or will be further, affected by climate change. Therefore, everyone is invited to the table. We have a moral obligation to those countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts, particularly small island developing states (SIDS).

Q6. Is it about mitigation? Or adaptation?
AnswerBoth. Because the greater the time spent on mitigation, the greater the cost of adaptation.

Q7. Is this about what Federal Governments have to do? Or what everyone has to do?
Answer Both. Governments have to put the framework together, but this issue involves everyone, from governments to investors, communities and industries. If we’re going to transform the system we’re all embedded in, everyone has to participate. We need to transform our technology, but to do that we need the people to demand low-carbon technologies. The power of the individual and every level of the system is crucial. This will be the first intentional transformation of our time (as the previous two, the industrial revolution and information age, were market driven) because the alternative is unacceptable.

At question time, Evelyn asked “how are you planning to involve developing countries in the framework?” Christiana responded that the real question is how are we going to support those 130 nations of the “G77” group? As an example, she explained how 50% of the world’s women currently spend most of their day sourcing food over long distances and cooking it on an open fire, which collectively contributes to those nations’ GHG emissions. She said if each of those women were given a cook stove, not only would this reduce emissions but those women would then have more spare time for other things and be safer as many women experience attacks when going to collect firewood or water.

'Building Capacity through Connectivity and Knowledge' 

The Australasian Consortium of Humanities Research Centres hosted a regional workshop in April this year entitled 'Building Capacity through Connectivity and Knowledge'.

Prof Tim Smith was invited to give the keynote address relating to sustainability and collaboration. The two-day workshop, held on the Toowoomba campus of the University of Southern Queensland, built on last year's very successful regional event at Federation University, which identified clear areas of need for humanities researchers outside metro centres.

The aim of this year's workshop was to build capacity for humanities research in regional universities, where researchers face particular challenges in relatively small departments. This was an opportunity to build connections between institutions, increase participants' knowledge, and initiate cross-institutional research.

Two new research grants for work in the Canadian Arctic Tristan-Pearce.jpg

Dr Tristan Pearce together with a team of international research colleagues have been successful with two new research grants for work in the Canadian Arctic. The projects are three years in duration and are funded by ArcticNet, a Network of Centres of Excellence of Canada.

1. Knowledge Co-Production for Beluga Whale Conservation in the Beaufort Sea ($291,086)

The aim of this program is to document local knowledge about the behaviour and ecology of beluga whales among Inuit in Ulukhaktok, NWT, Canada. Due to climate changes, beluga whales have appeared in the waters around Ulukhaktok, and Inuit have shifted their subsistence strategies significantly to hunt these animals. Our interest in documenting local knowledge (sometimes called “Traditional Ecological Knowledge”) is to understand the development of knowledge and hunting practice focused around a novel (to Inuit hunters) species. This information will contribute to a larger discussion on the development of indicators for the Beaufort Sea ecosystem.

2. Community Vulnerability, Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Change in the Arctic ($387,484)

The overarching goal of this research program is to develop a dynamic understanding of the processes and conditions affecting community vulnerability, resilience and adaptation to climate change. The research program will build on completed vulnerability, resilience and adaptation research to develop and validate a longitudinal community-based monitoring approach.

SRC involved with NCCARF’s SEI Network 

SRC is part of a new Social, Economic and Institutional dimensions of adaptation (SEI) network with the National Climate Change Research Facility (NCCARF). The SEI-network is a large, inclusive and diverse community of researchers, practitioners and decision makers from universities, government, the private sector and civil society.

The SEI-network is driving thinking across sectors and disciplines in the complex social, economic and institutional dimensions of climate adaptation. An understanding of these dimensions will allow decision makers to develop more effective adaptation measures

Congratulations Latif, Sabiha and Graham Graduation---Latif-Siddique--Sabiha-Zafrin.jpg

Doctor of Philosophy

Dr Latif Siddique (Supervisors – Associate Professor Bill Carter (Principal), A/Prof Claudia Baldwin, Dr Russ Babcock, Professor Tim Smith)

Thesis Title: Co-learning in marine protected area management

Dr Sabiha Zafrin – (Supervisors – Associate Professor Johanna Rosier (Principal), A/Prof Claudia Baldwin)

Thesis Title: Towards adaptive coastal governance: An improved framework for planning

Also, congratulations to academic staff member, Dr Graham Ashford who graduated with a doctorate degree. Graham's PhD research work focused on

the application of objective-oriented partial crediting policies to improve economic, environmental and social outcomes in the Kyoto Clean Development Mechanism.

Scholarship for HDR student, Troy Street 

HDR student, Troy Street has been fortunate enough to be selected for a generous scholarship at Latrobe University in Melbourne. His research is part of an Australian Research Council project on Australian mining history lead by Dr Clare Wright and entitled: Red Dirt Dreaming: Re-Imagining the History of Mining in Australia. He is thriving in the freedom to direct his research according to his passionate interests. The topic he has developed is entitled: Decaying Reaction: Gauging the Half-life of Australian Resistance to Uranium Mining. The intention is to apply an environmental history lens to Australian uranium mining to better understand the recent collapse of anti-uranium legislation in Australia.

Latrobe University has a strong history department and the culture is very supportive, interactive, and friendly. He has two excellent supervisors and a diverse range of colleagues. He says with confidence that his experience in completing his Masters by research at the SRC has prepared him well for the task of writing a PhD thesis as he has received positive feedback on his progress since enrolling in late February, 2015. He has many fond memories of USC and would certainly not rule out returning to contribute to historical studies if the opportunity presents itself.

Andrew Venning’s climate change study Andrew Venning

HDR candidate, Andrew Venning’s study on climate change, explores affordable housing in three SEQ built environments in a theme of law and policy, in light of climate change vulnerability. The research is viewed in a socioecological perspective.

Using a legal conceptual model, his work explores what legal adjustments and constraints are in place that inhibits the desired achievements of Queensland affordable housing.

Legal adjustments, framed as adaptive instruments or adaptive laws when combined in a legal framework, will lead to suggestions and aligned appropriate measures that may enhance the QAHP’s desired outcomes.

Class I Honours for her research

Rachele Wilson recently completed her Bachelor of Science (Honours) research, which investigated the roles, challenges and opportunities for Indigenous land management in urban and peri-urban landscapes through a case study of Bunya Bunya Country Aboriginal Corporation (BBCAC) on the Sunshine Coast.

Rachele and co-researchers from BBCAC found that Indigenous land managers fulfil a variety of roles, particularly when partnering with other land user groups to manage complex environmental issues. Significant challenges to their work include the effects of urban development and population growth/change, poor cross-cultural engagement with decision-makers, and barriers to appropriate, long-term funding and resources. There are several opportunities to overcome these challenges through existing programs such as the Indigenous Ranger Program, decolonised decision-making tools and sustainable enterprises that draw on public, private, and customary economies.

Rachele achieved Class I Honours for her research with BBCAC and is currently working on publishing her thesis through academic and popular media channels.

To the left is a group photo of BBCAC members discussing local cultural values at 
Koala Park, Nambour.

DIY boards, Hawaiian style for Papua New Guinea surfers 

Surfers in Papua New Guinea are going back to basics and learning the traditional Hawaiian techniques of timber surfboard building thanks to the training of renowned Australian surfboard shapers Bryan Bates, and HDR student, Tom Wegener. The training enables local surfers to capitalise on the balsa wood timber that is in abundance in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. This gives the locals the opportunity not only to surf but also to sell their productions to tourists, raising money for their respective families.

CSIRO funding

Prof Roy Sidle has received grants from the CSIRO ($380k) to support a post-doctoral researcher for 2 ½ years to develop models that capture the important hydrological processes governing erosion from ‘hot spots’ in rangelands up to small to moderate-sized catchments. This grant is part of collaborative research project between the Sustainability Research Centre and CSIRO with the post-doc primarily stationed at the joint CSIRO/James Cook University research facility in Townsville, Queensland. This research will elucidate how land use in upper catchments draining in the Great Barrier Reef alters storm runoff and sediment production, with an emphasis on adopting improved management practices and evaluating their effectiveness on reducing runoff and improving water quality. A related grant from the CSIRO supports a top-up for a PhD student at USC who will work on sediment issues associated with this collaborative project.

New Adjunct appointments

Dr Dana Thomsen and Prof Tim Smith were recently appointed as Adjunct Professors at Brock University, Canada where they are currently exploring an MOU that is hopeful will lead to future research collaboration between USC and Brock University. It was owing to recent collaboration with Brock University that Prof Ryan Plummer was appointed as Adjunct of USC.

Recent publications 

Book chapters:

Elrick-Barr, C., Glavovic, B. and Kay, R. (2015). A Tale of Two Atoll Nations: A Comparison of Risk, Resilience and Adaptive Response of Kiribati and the Maldives. In: Climate Change and the Coast: Building Resilient Communities, Glavovic, B., Kay, R., Kelly, M. and Travers, A (eds), CRC Press.

Travers, A. and Elrick-Barr, C. (2015). Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation with Existing Coastal Management for the Mediterranean Coastal Region. In: Climate Change and the Coast: Building Resilient Communities, Glavovic, B., Kay, R., Kelly, M. and Travers, A (eds), CRC Press.

Smith, E. F., & Pritchard, B. (2015). Australian agricultural policy: The pursuit of efficiency. In A. Hogan & M. Young (Eds.) Rural and Regional Futures. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. (pp. 58-70).

Smith, T.F., Low Choy, D., Thomsen, D.C., Neumann, S., Crick, F., Sano, M., Richards, R., Harman, B., Baum, S., Myers, S., Sharma, V., Bussey, M., Matthews, J., Roiko, A. and Carter, R.W. (2015). Adapting Australian coastal regions to climate change: A case study of South East Queensland, In Glavovic, B., Kay, R., Kelly, M. And Travers, A. (eds.) Climate Change and the Coast: Building Resilient Communities. Taylor and Francis.

Journal articles:

Berrang-Ford, L., Pearce, T. and Ford, J. (2015). Systematic Review Approaches for Climate Change Adaptation Research. Regional Environmental Change. Vol. 15 (5), :755-769.

Duggan, M.S., Smith T.F. and Thomsen D.C. (2015). Organizational Approaches to the Facilitation of Education for Sustainability: An Interpretive Case Study, Sustainability, 7, 7011-7030.

Elrick-Barr, C.E., Smith, T.F., Thomsen, D.C., Preston, B.L. (2015). Perceptions of Risk among Households in Two Australian Coastal Communities. Geographical Research 53 (2):145-159. doi:10.1111/1745-5871.12106

Ferreira, J-A., Ryan, L., Davis, J. (2015). Developing knowledge and leadership in pre-service teacher education systems. Australian Journal of Environmental Education 1-14. Doi: 10.1017/aee.2015.24

Grant, B., Baldwin, C., Lieske, S.N., Martin, K. (2015). Using participatory visual methods for information exchange about climate risk in canal estate communities. Australian Journal of Maritime & Ocean Affairs 7(1):23–37.

Lieske, S.N., Hamerlinck, J.D., (2015). Integrating Planning Support Systems and Multicriteria Evaluation for Energy Facility Site Suitability Evaluation. Journal of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association 26(1):13–24. Evaluation. Journal of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association.

Lieske S.N., Martin K, Grant B. and Baldwin C. (2015). Visualization methods for linking scientific and local knowledge of climate change impacts. In Planning Support Systems and Smart Cities. Geertman S., Stillwell J., Ferreira J. and Goodspeed R. (eds) Springer. pp. 373-389.

Lieske, S.N., McLeod, D.M., Coupal, R.H. (2015). Infrastructure Development, Residential Growth and Impacts on Public Service Expenditure. Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy 1–18. doi: 10.1007/s12061-015-9140-8 

Nunn, P.D. (2015). Research Report on shoreline change in the Federated States of Micronesia: Phase 1 – Reconnaissance survey of the coasts of islands in Pohnpei and Yap States. Maroochydore: University of the Sunshine Coast, 24 p.

Nunn, P.D. and Carson, M.T. (2015). Sea-level fall implicated in profound societal change about 2570 cal yr BP (620 BC) in western Pacific island groups. Geo: Geography and Environment, 1(1).

Nunn, P.D. and Carson, M.T. (2015). Collapses of island societies from environmental forcing: does history hold lessons for the future?  Global Environment, 8: 109-131.

Nunn, P.D. and Reid, N. (2015). Ancient Aboriginal stories preserve history of a rise in sea level. The Conversation, published online 13 January 2015.

Nunn, P.D., Kumar, L., Eliot, I. and McLean, R.F. (2015). Regional Coastal Susceptibility Assessment for the Pacific Islands: Technical Report. Canberra: Australian Government and Australian Aid, 123 p.

Nursey-Bray, M., Harvey, N. and Smith, T.F. (in press). Learning and local government in coastal South Australia: towards a community of practice framework for adapting to global change. Regional Environmental Change. (published online 02 April 2015) DOI: 10.1007/s10113-015-0779-0

Singh-Peterson, L., Salmon, P., Goode, N., & Gallina, J. (2015). An assessment of community disaster resilience for small, high-risk communities on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australian Journal of Emergency Management. Vol. 30(1):1-40.

Singh-Peterson, L., Salmon, P., Baldwin, C., Goode, N. (2015). Deconstructing the concept of shared responsibility for disaster resilience: a Sunshine Coast case study, Australia. Natural Hazards.

Smith, E.F., Keys, N., Lieske, S.N., & Smith, T.F. (in press). Assessing Socio-economic Vulnerability to Climate Change Impacts and Environmental Hazards in New South Wales and Queensland, Australia. Geographical Research.

Smith, E. F. (2015). Truck journeys and land parcels: Understanding the socio-economic organization of family farming through farm life histories. The Professional Geographer. Vol. 67(3):464-471.

Treml, Eric A., Fidelman, Pedro I.J., Kininmonth, Stuart, Ekstrom, Julia A., Bodin, Örjan. (2015). Analyzing the (Mis)fit between Institutional and Ecological Networks of the Indo-West Pacific. Global Environmental Change, 31: 263-271; doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.01.012 

The work of the Sustainability Research Centre

Our niche area for the Sustainability Research Centre (SRC) is societal adaptation — more specifically, understanding the social dimensions of environmental change.

Our members contribute knowledge to a range of sustainability issues such as coastal management, climate change, and water management (recognised as significant at local through to international scales). The SRC includes over 60 researchers (including 30 PhD students).

Further information

Gail Wilkins
Tel: +61 7 5459 4891

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