Monday, 10 October 2011

A Summary of the 2011 ACTS Conference.
After a warm welcome from the ACTS president Leanne Denby, Ellen Sandell the National director of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition gave a wonderful presentation on how she became interested in sustainability. It was wonderful to see so much already achieved by someone so young.
The first presentation I attended entitled “adopting a whole institution approach to EfS” was given by Charlie Hargrove. Charlie is the co-author of “Cents and Sensibility”, “Factor 5” and “Whole System Design” amongst others.  Charlie ran through all the important aspects of integrating sustainability into your organisation. It was one of those presentations you end up leaving feeling inspired with a renewed commitment to greening your institution.Up next, John Rolls presentation “Do not change your behaviour – there is a fault in reality” was bit different to say the least. John basically explained the psychological rational behind getting people to change their behaviour. To summarise, John’s presentation said that environmental campaigns are more successful if you target an emotional response from those whose behaviour you want to change, but it needs to be done carefully.
On the second day of the conference I attended a session on the use of Social Media to promote sustainability, By Mal Chia.Not only was it an excellent lesson in the history of communications and in social media but Mal showed how easy it is now to be connected to 1,000’s of other people through the click of a mouse. He also explained how to best engage with people. Echoing what John Rolls had said in a previous presentation, Mal also said that its important to tell a story that resonates with your audience. Firstly find out who you audience are and what do they want/need. Your story must be relatable, inspirational, and emotional. Mal also said not to broadcast to an audience but instead to start a conversation. All really good advice so took notes that I’m sure I’ll return to often.
Later I attended the “Time and Sustainability metrics for tertiary institutions” presentation given by Stephen Derrick. One of the points I took away from Stephens presentation was that sustainability is urgent so it’s important to factor in the time left until we go past the point of no return.Later that day I hosted a “one to one with the experts” session. This gave delegates the opportunity to sit with an expert of their choice (in my case green ICT) and ask what it all about , how to implement it etc. I had in total 7 delegates pick my brains for explanations on green ICT and how it relates to their role at their institutions. I was little surprised at how some delegates knew so little on the subject (no offence intended) but the UK are streets ahead of Australian institutions in greening their ICT systems. This is an opportunity for UK institutions to blaze the trail in greening of ICT networks and demonstrate best practice for those still grappling with the subject.
Later that night the green gown awards took place. Between the dinner and dancing, U&C’s across Australasia and New Zealand were awarded for their achievements in sustainable related topics. For the categories and winner click on the following link;
For a closer look at the conference’s programme click on the following link;
The final day of the ACTS conference kicked off with presentation from Jimmy Brannigan on the EAUC’s LiFE project. This is a sustainability performance tool that it is hoped will be utilised by all U&C’s not only in the UK but in Australia and NZ too. A continuation from the Universities that Count project, LiFE examines an institutions CSR and well as their environmental performance. For more information simply click on the following link:

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