Session: Sustainability – Subsistence, Food Consumption and Urban Development

Urban Sustainability Stream


Day 3, Parallel Session 3A: 11:00am – 12:30pm

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

Chair: Elizabeth Ryan (UN Global Compact Cities Programme)


Dominique Hes Current Sustainability: Are we Trying to Just be Less Bad?

  • Presenter: Dr Dominique Hes (University of Melbourne)
  • Abstract: All of the current ways to measure the state of the world and its underlying capacity to provide ecosystem services show that humanities impact is increasing. Yet we have been making an effort to be more ‘sustainable’ for the last 40 or so years. A critique of the efficiency based approach to sustainability is presented specifically showing that one key reason for this failure is its origins in the mechanistic worldview. This worldview served humanity well during the industrial revolution but does not provide the underpinning models to challenge the current ‘unsustainable’ way of doing things. The ecological worldview is presented as an alternate model that allows thinking to be more holistic and based in the complex and interrelated socio-ecological systems that make up how humans affect the world. The arguments underpinning this need for a new worldview are made based on interviews with a dozen international thinkers and practitioners developing projects that restore and regenerate degraded ecological and social environments. In this critique of the current approach to sustainability is a challenge to not only restore the planet’s capacity to provide ecosystem services (to be more sustainable) but to develop the potential for ecosystem and social systems to evolve, adapt and increase resilience.
  • About the presenter: Dominique received a science degree from Melbourne University and followed this with a graduate diploma in Engineering and a Doctorate in Architecture 2005 at RMIT University, Melbourne. Her research spans both the pragmatics of improving the efficiency and performance of buildings and the aspirational of using ecological sustainability as way to imagine an irresistible future of abundance and prosperity. She asks, why after decades of sustainability based on the Brundtland definition are we continuing to degrade our environment and reducing our ecological capital. Could this be because we see sustainability as something of belt tightening, restriction and guilt rather than an opportunity to reintegrate with the natural world and develop a thriving future where people are a positive force.   
People and the Planet 2013 Sustainability and Food Waste Regulation

  • Presenter and main author: Huda AlQasmi (RMIT University/MOHE Saudi Arabia)
  • Abstract: Achieving sustainability has been the ultimate goal for many countries around the globe. However, there are complicated issues that constitute stumbling block to such achievement such as food waste. In fact, food waste presents the most significant threat to sustainability.  From environmental perspective, it produces Methane gas, which has as ten times of the effect of carbon dioxide.  Socially, as 1 billion of the world population are struggling to find food, another 1 billion are spending food more than they need which create considerable waste.  Many studies have shown that almost half of the world production of food is wasted every year. In Australia, about $5 billion worth of food was wasted in 2009,  and around $8 billion in 2011. These studies have made the economic impact obvious.  Ireland introduced a Food Waste Regulation in 2009 and was effective in 2010.  This regulation put a food recycling system in place.  Although this regulation is only for business, it is considered to be a step in the right track.  This presentation will investigate food waste from legal perspective. It will examine the Irish experience and learn lessons from it.
  • About the presenter: Huda Alqasmi is a PhD Candidate at the Graduate School of Business and Law, RMIT University. Her thesis is entitled “Consumer Protection Law and Sustainable Development in Saudi Arabia”. She was awarded a scholarship to undertake her doctoral studies from the Saudi Ministry of Higher Education’s King Abdullah Scholarship Program. Huda also holds a Masters degree in International Trade and Commerce Law from Macquarie University, Sydney. 
Sandra Moye Sustainable Affordable Housing: New Models for Low-income Housing in Chile

  • Presenter and main author: Sandra Moye (UN Global Compact Cities Programme)
  • Abstract: In the context of increasing urbanization in Latin America, UN-Habitat encourages addressing housing issues focusing on poor housing quality, eliminating and preventing slums, and the development of market-based approaches to increase affordability and accessibility for low-income households. Chile’s housing policy has been considered successful as it effectively reduced the accumulated deficit, shifting from a state-based provision to a market-based approach.  This enabled the involvement of non-government organizations in the development of low-income housing projects. One of these organizations is Techo, which aims to reduce poverty and precarious settlements through a close community-participation approach. Furthermore, in the context of Chile’s energy insecurity and climate change, Techo is introducing energy efficiency measures in their housing projects. However, Techo faces a major barrier: upfront costs and the effect on the affordability of the house, independent of the operating cost savings. Therefore, this project examines innovative financing approaches to overcome the cost barrier to uptake energy efficiency. It is also focused on the involvement and awareness of users to effectively reduce energy consumption. This study draws upon the elements of social practice to evaluate the process of community participation and involvement regarding efficient energy use in two of Techo’s pilot projects, which will be beneficial for future projects and will serve as a best practice case study.
  • Co-author: Professor Ralph Horne (RMIT University)
  • About the presenter: Sandra holds a Master of Environment degree from Melbourne University, focused on Climate Change and Sustainable Community Development. She is currently involved in a research project on energy efficiency measures for low income housing with the Chilean NGO Techo at UN Global Compact Cities Programme. She is also involved in LIVE Community Power Project, which will expand solar sourced energy system at South Melbourne Market. Sandra is from Mexico and a Spanish native speaker. She has worked with indigenous communities in Mexico, has heavy-industry consulting experience, and has volunteered here in Melbourne with Beyond Zero Emissions on their Buildings Plan as a researcher and volunteer coordinator. With a strong interest on climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, she aims to put her experience into community development projects in Australia and Latin America.