The City of Sydney launched its C40 Women4Climate Mentorship Program in May, with Mayor Clover Moore stating “Climate action is the City of Sydney’s top priority”, as reflected in the City’s 2030 Strategy and Climate Emergency declaration.
Ahead of the Global Climate Strike called for 20 September, the program’s 20 mentees are taking this opportunity to share the vision for each of their projects, and their view on climate activism. The outcomes of their projects will be presented at the global Women4Climate Conference in Sydney in March 2020.
Melinda Dewsnap is the Sustainability Engagement Manager (Residential) at the City of Sydney
One Community for Climate Action
I believe that to address and adapt to climate change we need to build new connections and alliances across city and regional centres in Australia. Ultimately we are one community, interdependent on each other. Through greater understanding and planned evolution of economies and communities, we can build a fairer, more resilient future together.
Partnerships will be key in our collective transition; to connect people around climate solutions that are planned, tangible and create new resilient economies into the future.
Driving action on climate change not only enables us to avoid the worst of the climate emergency we have created, it will also allow new governance, new systems and models of community connection that are essential for building social and economic resilience. The frames or language we use is key to positioning the solutions we need to create and to join more Australians together to drive change.
My project will explore how we connect our city communities with regional and rural Australia in the co-creation of climate change solutions. The declaration of a ‘climate emergency’ is an engagement frame that I will explore to galvanise action from a broader range of community stakeholders and also build momentum under a new ‘call to action’. Does declaring a climate emergency assist us to develop new partnerships and connections between the City of Sydney and regional New South Wales? To date, 45 local councils and the Australian Capital Territory have declared a climate emergency in Australia, representing over 20% of the population. From Bellingen to Byron to Clarence Valley to Newcastle and Sydney, local councils from across Australian society are demanding action.
It is vital that the needs of regional communities are heard and included in planning for our collective transition. Nicky Chirlian, a farmer, from Willow Tree NSW, supports this:
“Obviously everyone is very worried about the physical and financial impacts of climate change on drought severity and length ……I am aware that as the world is turning (albeit slowly) away from gas and coal, there is a risk that communities currently dependent on these industries are at great risk of job losses and social upheaval. Planning is required now for a "just transition" of workers and associated services - and a corresponding allocation of federal, state and local budget funding, to avoid this situation. It seems obvious to move skilled workers across to the renewable energy sector, and to set strategies in place to facilitate this for new workers, so that we do not "hollow out" regional communities.”
Picture: Nicky Chirlian, from Willow Tree NSW
Nicky also states how important it is we support the Hunter Renewal Project in NSW and the women who are leading action to make their communities more resilient in regional communities “Find them, recognize them, support them”.
My projects is seeking to connect these leaders to cities, to amplify their voice and connect city and regional communities through action and fair planning for our future.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CITIES
To drive the most powerful climate solutions for Australia, cities must listen to the needs of regional communities and and drive innovative solutions that bring co-benefits and resilience to all parts of society. By forming strong coalitions our cities can support regional communities suffering the worst drought in history and plan a positive diversification of jobs through investment in areas that are particularly vulnerable to climate impacts.
MY SUPPORT FOR THE GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE
Outrage is fueling action – Climate Strike is about everyday people who know we have limited time to keep our planet habitable for people and to protect the natural world. People of all generations are taking to the streets to demand change. Living in balance within our natural eco-systems is not a partisan issue – and the leaders we elect have an absolute responsibility to ensure we do this. History will not judge the laggards kindly, but it will celebrate all the people who step up to lead us into a new fairer, sustainable, connected world.
“If not you, then who? If not now, then when?”
Thanks to my mentor, Naomi Hogan, National Coordinator at Lock the Gate