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Curtin takes significant stride into field of sustainability

Media release

C114/08

Research into sustainability will be boosted by the new Curtin University Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute that was officially launched today.

Headed by world renowned sustainability expert Professor Peter Newman, the Institute is a multidisciplinary research centre that undertakes research focused on sustainable cities and regions, and sustainable global development, politics, policy and economics.

At today’s launch Professor Newman, who developed the State Sustainability Strategy from 2001 to 2003, said the idea of “sustainability” in a wide range of human endeavours is a relatively new concept and is now becoming a mainstream idea for business and government.

“Sustainability is developing as a coherent approach to understanding the next wave of industrial, economic and technological change that is engulfing the world as we know it,” Professor Newman said.

“Like other waves of change – for example the industrial revolution – it demands innovation in technology and how we organise ourselves to adapt.”

Moreover, Professor Newman emphasised that the development of sound sustainability policy is critical in the volatile global environment to give us an economically competitive edge.

“With the great challenges facing us such as climate change, peak oil and threats to biodiversity, we can either be overwhelmed or turn the challenges into economic opportunities.

“This is why sustainability policy is fundamental and fast developing as a recognised profession and a multidisciplinary research field in its own right.

“The Institute is committed to advancing sustainability policy to benefit Western Australians and to reach new heights of research at the state, national and international levels.”

In conjunction with today’s launch, three new ventures were announced:
• The global consulting group Parsons Brinckerhoff are establishing a partnership around their Placemaking skills (The Group has two projects with the CUSP Institute – one on developing a tool to measure the economic benefits of transit-oriented development, and the other a $50,000 project with the Northern Territory government on how to bring sustainability into their planning and infrastructure priorities).

• Habitat for Humanity the international social housing provider is establishing a partnership where projects and policies are researched by CUSP Institute students and staff who also will be volunteering to work on actual building of the houses.

• Green Steps is a Federal Government funded special course in sustainability for the top 14 students in WA from any discipline who wish to move more into sustainability as a profession. The Federal Government has recently extended the program to WA and CUSP will be the home for this new initiative, starting later this year.

Established in January this year and based in Fremantle , the CUSP Institute is a front-line research and teaching Institute for how Curtin will be pursuing its goals in sustainability.

The CUSP Institute aims to be an innovative provider of frontline research, teaching and policy advice in sustainability policy, with an emphasis on implementation. It undertakes key research activities and offers exciting multi-level and multi-disciplinary sustainability programs that focus on societal learning, policy development, and implementation of sustainable practice.

The Institute’s four key areas of research include:

  • Sustainable Cities: city policy, urban planning, transport, water and waste.
  • Sustainable Regions: natural resource management, regional and rural WA, rangelands, coasts and the sea, Indigenous sustainability.
  • Sustainable Global Development: innovation in technology, renewable energy, population policy, women and development.
  • Sustainable Politics, Policy and Economics: social justice, environmental justice, globalisation, policy development, participatory democracy, social movements to achieve sustainability.

Professor Peter Newman, one of Australia’s leading academics and planners, coined the term ‘automobile dependence’ to describe how we have created cities where we have to drive everywhere. For more than 30 years he has been warning cities about preparing for “peak oil” and in Perth Peter is known for his work in saving, rebuilding and extending the rail system which is now considered a global model.

Professor Newman has surrounded himself with a team of more than 20 top staff and researchers based in Fremantle. The Institute’s Associate Director and Professor of Sustainability Dora Marinova is an expert in the role of new technologies for sustainability. Professor of Sustainability Dr Janette Hartz-Karp is renowned for her innovative work in community engagement and a former advisor to the WA Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Alana McTiernan. Professor of Sustainability Jeff Kenworthy has spent 28 years in the transport and urban planning field, and New Zealand born Associate Professor of Sustainability Laura Stocker is an expert in marine sustainability policy.

For more information on the CUSP Institute please visit http://sustainability.curtin.edu.au/

Attention Editor/COS: Photographs are available on request.