Selection of Non-Government Organisations for further in-depth investigation
In the first quarter of 2016, the Project Team completed a desk survey of NGO climate change strategies and initiatives in the four metropolitan areas of Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and South East Queensland.
Two NGOs from each project State were selected for further in-depth study and were selected against the following criteria:
- Responsiveness to local conditions;
- Meets genuine needs;
- Empowerment of communities;
- Potential transformation of social relations;
- Community engagement in preparation and delivery of strategy and initiatives;
- Inclusion of the vulnerable and non-human.
We consider our case selection to be an appropriate mix of truly local groups and local branches of national organisations. The list is:
Victoria – EFLAG (Elwood Floods Action group) and Transition Towns Maroondah Inc.
WA – Ecoburbia and Environment House.
Queensland – Gecko and Green Cross Australia
NSW – Nature Conservation Trust NSW and CAN-Win
Details of the individual selections are outlined below:
Case study selection – Victoria
The two Victorian case studies embody highly localised efforts to act and advocate for local climate initiatives:
- EFLAG (Elwood Floods Action Group)
EFLAG is a community group based in the inner-city Bayside suburb of Elwood. EFLAG formed after Elwood experienced an extreme weather event in February 2011. As an advocacy and action group, EFLAG works to inform local residents about: how the area experiences flooding; what they can do to prepare for and respond to future floods; and what residents can expect from various government agencies and associated bodies in times of severe weather.
- Transition Towns Maroondah Inc
Transition Towns Maroondah Inc is a community group based in Melbourne’s outer eastern susburbs. It is part of the international Transition Towns movement. Their byline is: ‘creating resilient and sustainable communities’.
The aims of the group are:
- to raise awareness about climate change, resource depletion and economic contraction; and
- to initiate and support projects that help to create resilient and sustainable communities as a positive response to these challenges. The group regard ‘localisation of the economy and our way of life, and re-skilling as keys to resilience and sustainability’.
Key initiatives include: sustainable transport; community engagement; waste management; reskilling; living simply; food; localised economy; and energy.
Case study selection – Western Australia
- Environment House
According to their 2015 Annual Report community programs include –
- SWWAP Program – employs a number of sustainability auditors as consultants providing energy, water and waste sustainability education and audits across Perth.
- Compost for Migrants Project – Nov 2014 to December 2015
- Funded by the Waste Authority’s Community Grant Scheme the project offered 9 workshops plus home visits to migrants (mainly refugees) to build composting, recycling and waste management skills. Program was run as a collaborative effort with a number of other agencies.
- Sustainability workshops and audits delivered to a range of community centres and private homes.
- Bayswater $WAP Program 2015 was proposed and developed by Environment House in conjunction with the City of Bayswater. Grass roots initiative to encourage residents to reduce household energy and water use. Over $11,000 of eco-hardware was given away to local residents, expertise provided to ensure correct appliances were chosen and advice regarding installation delivered. Six workshops were also held on energy and water efficiency.
- Variety of workshops on gardening, composting, bee keeping, building frog ponds, vegie gardening, water saving measures
- School Sustainability Project – it appears only one school has been trialled – Hillcrest Primary. Environment House worked with the school (staff, students and parents) over 6 months to reduce energy and water usage creating a per year saving of $12,000. Program expanding in 2015/2016.
- EcoShop – two rooms of products which are entirely palm oil free and 90% West Australian.
- Stalls at City Farm Markets and other community events.
- Community food garden
Ecoburbia addresses vulnerability across issues (CVC, Peak Oil, economic change etc) by educating, role modelling and experimenting in sustainable and self-sufficient living. They were largely responsible for the Hulbert St activities described in the cosmopolitics paper. Since 2013 have been setting up a small community on a suburban lot in Beaconsfield, aiming to provide an alternative model of urban consolidation by arranging the housing and gardens to support (wrt shelter, energy, food), four living units (singles, couples).
Ecoburbia is set up as a small business, not an NFP, to give the proprietors more flexibility regarding new ideas. The Beaconsfield community is explicitly governed as a benign dictatorship.
Case study selection – South East Queensland
- GECKO (Gold Coast & Hinterland Environment Council)
Gecko is the Gold Coast’s peak non-government not-for-profit environment group that networks with a wide range of volunteers and organisations who work together to protect and enhance the natural and environmental assets of our region.
Gecko started after representatives of six local conservation groups joined together in 1989 believing that the organisation would engage with the community and work for the care, protection and conservation of the natural environment and the improvement of the built environment.
Gecko’s goal is to ensure the Gold Coast and surrounds become sustainable by way of anticipating and assessing impacts prior to projects being approved to ensure development is undertaken without risks to biodiversity, the ecological system and the livability of the region
Gecko is committed to action on climate change at a local level. The Campaigns Sub-Committee meets each fortnight to discuss the issue and ways that the organisation can make a difference.
- A carbon price system which is effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and is socially just and economically responsible.
- A rapid transition from an economy based on fossil fuel mining and use to one which primarily relies on renewable energy. The transition must include phasing out of subsidies to the coal industry, retraining employees from the fossil fuel industry and social support mechanisms for sectors of society likely to be negatively impacted.
- That this transition accords with principles of social justice, human rights and sustainable development as articulated in various international protocols.
- Urgent and extensive community education on the realities of climate change and its implications for the global community.
- The transition from a consumer based economy to a steady state economy in recognition of the facts that endless growth in a finite world will lead to disaster for the human race and other species.
- Gecko will undertake advocacy and community education to move society towards these solutions.
- Gecko will support and collaborate with other organizations with a similar policy stance and undertaking similar actions.
Gecko is presently organising what is hoped will be a state-wide series of climate change action ‘conferences’ which bring together a wide range of stakeholders to envision alternative futures and identify and implement diverse actions to achieve them.
- Green Cross Australia
Green Cross Australia works to help people adapt to climate change by embracing sustainability and community resilience. The organisation is motivated by a belief that existing challenges present opportunities for a better future.
Green Cross Australia is not an advocacy group – rather it works with respected business, research, community and government partners to deliver ‘world-class’ digital projects that foster a global values shift towards a secure and sustainable future.
The mantra, Think + Act + Share = Change, is key to the organisation’s projects. The organisation believes the power of its projects is empowering Australians to take practical, informed action. It encourages people to take action, and then gives them the tools via social and digital media to share their actions with their friends. It uses mapping technologies to visualise participation in its projects and to measure engagement.
The Queensland branch has been engaged to support the stakeholder engagement program underpinning Q-CAS (Queensland Climate Adaptation Strategy) strategy development: http://www.greencrossaustralia.org/our-work/climate-adaptation/a-partner-developed-queensland-climate-adaptation-strategy.aspx
While the organisation has recently been hampered by funding cuts at a Federal and State level, which have affected many NGOs, they are still highly motivated and are very willing to share their experiences.
Case study selection – NSW
- Nature Conservation Trust NSW
The Nature Conservation Trust is a statutory body corporate with non-profit status established under the Nature Conservation Trust Act 2001 (NSW). Its key mission is to facilitate the conservation of natural heritage on private land in which biodiversity can thrive. It aims to create a network of reserves on private properties across NSW that link up public reserves in order to address biodiversity decline. It achieves this by facilitating voluntary covenant agreements with private landholders committing to in-perpetuity conservation reserves; by maintaining a revolving fund to acquire lands of high biodiversity value, establishing covenants on those lands and returning them to the private market; and communicating to the broader community the importance of natural heritage on private lands in NSW. It partners with other natural resource managment agencies and conservation initiatives to develop its broader strategic approaches
CANWin – Climate Action Now! Wingecarribee – is a non-partisan community group based in the Southern Highlands of NSW. It works to foster community-based initiatives that respond to the impacts of climate change and develop community resilience in the face of peak oil. A central driver is the recognition that none of us can do this alone, but that together we “must be the change we want to see in the world” (Mahatma Ghandi).
CANWin runs regular public events, such as speaker nights, film nights, and the recent Clean Energy Future workshop. It researches and prepares information sheets for members and the public on scientific and technical matters that affect the sustainability of life on the Highlands. CANWin initiatives include programs such as Fruit Resuce, Community Exchange Southern Highlands, and Repower Southern Highlands. It collaborates with many other local groups that share a vision for a united, resilient and sustainable community.