Session: Social Sustainability

Sustainable Urban and Regional Futures Stream


Day 2, Parallel Session 2A: 11:00am – 12:30pm

Location: Storey Hall (Building 16), Conference Room 1, Level 7, Room 7

Chair: Mark Dean (Australian Workplace Innovation and Social Research Centre)


Fiona Armstrong Our Uncashed Dividend: Sustainability through the Lens of Health and Wellbeing

  • Presenter and main author: Fiona Armstrong (Climate and Health Alliance)
  • Abstract: Building the case for sustainability requires more than an understanding of the scientific evidence about what lies ahead; its also requires an understanding of how people respond to messages about sustainability issues, including climate change. This presentation will share the evidence from the report Our Uncashed Dividend from the Climate and Health Alliance and The Climate Institute about how strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can also produce substantial and immediate benefits for human health and wellbeing as well as considerable economic savings. This presentation will also discuss the underlying evidence from the cognitive sciences and communications literature that informed the report’s development: that of the health ‘frame’ and how it can positively influence attitudes and increase support for climate policies, as well as lead to a sense of hope and optimism. The presentation will make the case that communicating about sustainability is most effectively done when accompanied by or embedded in messages about human health and wellbeing, and how this approach can help mobilise communities and individuals to engage in and support effective strategies for sustainability.
  • About the presenter: Fiona Armstrong is a health professional, journalist and has a Master in Politics and Public Policy. Fiona is the Founder of the Climate and Health Alliance; co-founder of CLIMARTE: Arts for a Safe Climate; and the author of Shifting From Fear to Hope; and Our Uncashed Dividend: The Health Benefits of Climate Action. She led the development of the Doha Declaration on Climate Health and Wellbeing in 2012, calling for health to be central to the UNFCCC climate negotiations, which was signed by health and medical groups representing millions of health and medical professionals around the world.
Kim Neylon Selling Environmental Sustainability at Melbourne’s Farmers’ Markets

  • Presenter and main author: Kim Neylon (University of Melbourne)
  • Abstract: If the Australian Media is to be believed, farmers and environmentalists rarely see eye-to-eye. But are the reported differences between the two groups really so irreconcilable? Farmers’ Markets, a brand of market that focuses on direct consumer-to-producer transactions, are a place where ‘greenies’ and farmers regularly meet, and find common ground. Through ethnographic research both at Farmers Markets and on the farms of stallholders throughout Victoria, I examined the ideology of the Farmers’ Market brand. For many customers, these markets provided a ‘feel-good’ shopping experience that allowed them to ‘know where their food comes from’. Direct interaction with producers guaranteed that their consumption choices were ethical or environmentally sound. However, for primary producer stallholders, the notion of environmentally sustainable food production was complex, contested and highly political. Is organic certification necessary? Or have farmers ‘always been sustainable’? This paper will explore how environmental sustainability was interpreted by various producers and customers, and how this notion was constructed and sold at the markets. This is viewed in a context where many small-scale Victorian producers rely on Farmers Markets to maintain their livelihood, using them as an alternative mode of distribution in a globalised food system.
  • About the presenter: Kim Neylon is a Social Anthropology PhD Candidate at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Her paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Victoria, Australia, from June 2010 to March 2012.
Nooshin Torabi The Role of Social Networks in the Success of Biodiverse Carbon Plantings

  • Presenter and main author: Nooshin Torabi (RMIT University)
  • Abstract: Given that agriculture occupies approximately 54 per cent of Australia’s land cover, enhancing climate change resilience and social stability in regional areas is an ongoing concern. It is important to design a policy that can benefit the emission abatement challenge, enhance biodiversity condition and increase farmers’ climate change resilience in Australia. In addition to voluntary conservation practices that have no external incentives and are conducted only based on landholders’ intrinsic values, market based Instruments (e.g. Carbon Farming Initiative) are also used to stimulate private land conservation and greenhouse gas emission abatement. At the start of a scheme like Carbon Farming Initiative, it is important to know where the room for improvement is. Social and cultural factors have the ability to influence these market approaches, yet they are often overlooked in the design of programs. Face to face semi-structured interviews has been conducted with landholders who voluntarily participated in biodiverse carbon plantings on their land in Victoria; focusing in particular on the role of cultural influences in delivering successful outcomes. The result shows the importance of social networks and their profound impact on the diffusion of a carbon planting scheme in the North Central CMA. The outcome will improve the decision making capacity of government and policy makers involved in managing biodiversity, carbon sequestration and climate change resilience in rural areas.
  • About the presenter: Nooshin is a second-year PhD student in the Interdisciplinary Conservation Science Research Group within the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. Her thesis title is ‘Integrated Ecological and Socio-Economic Modelling of Biodiverse Plantings for Carbon Sequestration’. Nooshin seeks to explore the socio-cultural drivers of private landholders who participate in biodiverse carbon plantings in their properties. Nooshin is also interested in discovering additional social and environmental values of carbon plantings that influence landholders’ decision to participate, such as community development, climate change resilience and biodiversity enhancement. Her research interests include integration of socio-ecological systems, building resilience in rural areas, Bayesian Belief Networks (BBNs), exploring the social roots of ecological issues and integration of markets for ecosystem services.