Thursday, 25 February 2016 11:10

Sydney growing greener from the roots up

Minister for Environment the Hon. Mark Speakman addressing the Sydney Environmental Educators Network forum. Minister for Environment the Hon. Mark Speakman addressing the Sydney Environmental Educators Network forum.

Around 80 environmental educators from across Sydney’s councils gathered last week to collaborate and share ideas at the Sydney Environmental Educators Network forum in Drummoyne.

Environment Minister Mark Speakman opened the forum, acknowledging the contributions of NSW’s local government environmental educators for their vital role in helping communities meet the environmental challenges unique to their areas.

“Local government and their environmental educators have a fundamental role to play in creating more sustainable communities – they are vital in connecting people to place and empowering people to take local actions,” Mr Speakman said.

“New and innovative partnerships with local and other levels of government, as well as industry and the community are key to meeting these challenges.

“Many of the unique projects being developed at this local level work because they are created for local communities by local communities.”

President of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) Cllr Tony Hadchiti said "Environmental sustainability is an increasingly important issue for many communities across Sydney and NSW.”

“The strength of local government has always been its deep understanding of local communities and local environments.

“Our environmental educators are the grass roots champions of environmental sustainability and run a host of innovative programs tackling issues as varied as local biodiversity, water management, urban heat islands, sustainable technologies, waste management, and littering,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

“The joint educators meeting is another example of how councils and organisations right across Sydney are working together to develop and deliver strategic projects, whilst at the same time tailoring them to suit local communities and local topics,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

“Supporting this on-the-ground insight with state and federal resources is key to delivering quality outcomes, and we look forward to working closely with both levels of government in the coming year,” he said.

A key focus of the forum was better engagement with culturally and linguistically diverse communities and supporting behaviour change at the local level.

The event was run by the Australian Association for Environmental Educators in collaboration with three regional Environmental Educator Networks (Western Sydney, South Sydney and North Sydney convened by the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC), Marrickville Council and Hornsby Shire Council respectively).


Below are just a few examples of sustainability programs run by councils across western Sydney.

Light Years Ahead – The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils is managing a street light replacement project that will see approximately 13,000 mercury vapour street lights replaced with low emission LED or equivalent lights. Light Years Ahead will deliver major savings for its nine participant councils, with an estimated savings in energy costs of around $21 million and 74,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over 20 years.

Sharing the Seeds – A collaboration between Penrith City Council, Mamre House, Permaculture Sydney West and the Nepean Arts and Design Centre. A series of intensive permaculture workshops teaching the local community how to grow their own vegetables.

The Cool Streets – A study of the use of street trees to reduce the urban heat island effect in Blacktown City Council.

Urban Heat mapping – Aerial heat mapping has been conducted by Parramatta and Penrith City Councils to identify and mitigate the impact of ‘hot spots’ in extreme weather events.

CAPS bus shelter design competition – A collaboration between the University of Technology Sydney, Western Sydney University and several Western Sydney councils to develop a ‘climate adapted people shelter’ to protect bus commuters from extreme heat in the region. Love Food Hate Waste – A number of Love Food Hate Waste programs are running across the region to reduce the amount food waste sent to landfill.

Catchments Connecting Communities – A joint project run by Campbelltown City Council, Western Sydney University, and Campbelltown Performing Arts High School to investigate how students could be encouraged to engage with a local wetlands area to promote sustainability.

Free home energy assessments - Parramatta City Council is offering free home energy assessments for Parramatta residents to help them save money on their energy bills.

Last modified on Tuesday, 01 March 2016 16:48