The very best of times are when we are with people who dream big; who want to get good things
done and who are also delightful company! Such a time was the “Better Futures Forum” in Canberra, September 6-7.
- Bishop Philip Huggins, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture.
In the week that Australia's Climate Change bill became law, advocates from around the country and from different sectors came together at the second Better Futures Forum at UNSW Canberra.
The Forum Program Director Lisa Cliff said the gathering highlighted the opportunities for collaboration. “Climate change is relentless, and so must be our advocacy. We need to continue driving for ambitious society and economy-wide action on climate change.
“The Forum workshops allowed advocates to meet with peers and representatives from government who, importantly, are listening and hungry to deliver on-ground solutions today.”
“It was fantastic to hear perspectives from national and international speakers who are focused on using the momentum from the change in government in Australia to continue our work.”
Former Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, in his address to the Forum, welcomed back Australia to the international stage. "It is excellent that Prime Minister Albanese’s Government has prioritised a Climate Change Bill to lock in new and improved climate ambition. This is a positive first step, and the step-up that the world has long been waiting for.”
But he urged Australians to be even more ambitious and pointed to the nation’s key role in supporting neighbours in the Pacific.
The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen, on the morning that the Climate Change Bill was passed in the Australian Parliament, told the Forum that focusing on the huge opportunity renewable exports will play in the world’s energy transition will be vital.
“It’s a moral obligation to the rest of the world and future generations. All that is true. But even if it wasn’t true, even if no other country was doing nothing, it’s in our nation’s interests to become a clean energy superpower. It is good for our country, good for our economy, good for our national security, ’’ the Minister said.
We can build the renewables, build the storage, build the transmission, and then build it more so we can export it to the world. These are the opportunities for us,” said Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen.
He also pointed to the Sunshot report, a shared blueprint of the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Business Council of Australia and WWF-Australia, which identified the huge export and job opportunities for future investment.
More than forty health and medical organisations were represented in a Forum roundtable discussion about urgent priorities for the Government’s proposed national climate-health plan.
The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) also welcomed the commitment by the Commonwealth Government and the Federal Health Minister to a national strategy on climate, health and wellbeing. CAHA’s National Strategy identifies immediate priorities: a ministerial forum of state, territory and Commonwealth ministers; a national health vulnerability and capacity assessment for disaster preparedness; and a Sustainable Healthcare Unit in the Commonwealth Department of Health to guide the sector to decarbonise.
There was also a call for a national target and policies to include battery storage in Australia’s renewable energy supply.
Renewable energy storage is the key to 24-hour power in the 21st Century,” said John Grimes, Chief Executive of the Smart Energy Council.
“Whether it’s a home solar battery or a battery on wheels via an electric vehicle, a ‘big battery’ project or pumped hydro, renewable energy storage will be the lifeblood of the energy grid of the future, delivering energy security and lower power bills.
"Australia is in the middle of the fastest energy transition we have ever seen, with at least five coal generators closing by the end of the decade. We can’t afford to waste time if we are to manage our way through intermittent energy crises over the next few years."
First Nations people joined the Forum’s discussions about not only Australia’s transition but also that of the Pacific and Asia region. "Let's look after what we have and we can make a better future for everybody," Ngambri/Wiradjuri Elder Aunty Matilda House said.
The Uluru Statement and its three elements of voice, treaty and truth are really critical steps... to future-proofing what is an ambitious national climate agenda," said Janine Mohamed, CEO of the Lowitja Institute.
In her presentation to the Forum on the impact of climate change on the Pacific nations, UNSW Scientia Professor Jane McAdam said, “The stability and prosperity of the Pacific directly impacts Australia; while Australia, in turn, benefits from the economic and social contributions made by Pacific people here.”
A new partnership between local governments and the Commonwealth was also highlighted at the Forum as an opportunity to multiply benefits across the country.
“Local governments have been leading on climate action in Australia for decades,” City of Sydney Cr HY William Chan said.
It’s obvious from our discussions during the Forum that local governments are Australia’s secret weapon to support the Commonwealth in meeting its 2030 target,” said Cr HY William Chan.
Further information about the 2022 Better Futures Forum
With discussions and workshop sessions held across the two days of the Forum, there are many valuable resources now available for review online. If you missed the Forum, recordings of all sessions will be made available via the Better Futures Australia Youtube Playlist over the coming months. To view the main highlights captured across the Forum program, follow the link to the Highlights Reel by clicking the image below.
All ticket holders can access all sessions on-demand via the InEvent Forum platform until December 2022. View the Program and Speakers pages to find out more about sessions held across the two days.
Illustrations capturing participant comments to take the ideas from the critical conversations forward are also available for viewing via the button below.
A clear message coming out of Forum was that this is our moment to make the most of opportunities the new federal government is providing, and to work collaboratively to increase ambition and bring all Australians with us.
We have a lot of work ahead of us. Now we can take the energy, ambition and readiness to get to work that was shared at the Better Futures Forum - and convert that into action.
We anticipate many of the sectors that work with Better Futures Australia will engage with the Australian government over the next few years. If you are interested in staying an active member of the Better Futures Australia community, we will do our best to make sure you have the opportunity to work collaboratively in your area of interest. Having each sector active and working collectively will enhance our ability to achieve major public policy outcomes.
Better Futures Australia looks forward to collaborating with partners in coming months on:
- A Parliamentary Forum to accelerate the rollout of batteries and pumped hydro projects;
- Securing federal support for a national renewable energy exports strategy;
- The Health Minister's delivery of a National Strategy for Climate, Health and Wellbeing;
- The Climate Change and Energy Minister's commitment to include a local government voice in National Cabinet meetings and vertical integration of national climate policy that recognises local government contributions towards Australia’s NDC;
- An independent statutory transition authority and delivery of a Powering Australia Skills Plan by the Federal Government;
- A consistent national approach to land and ecosystems management as climate solutions that centres indigenous knowledge and social benefits; and
- Enhanced collaboration among large enterprises and SMEs to build capacity for greater transparency and accountability across supply chains.
Our joint advocacy and collaborative actions will continue towards putting Australia on a path to healthier, climate resilient, prosperous and better futures for us all.
Thank you to our Sponsors
*Webpage Header Photo Credit: Hasmukh Chand