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Greening the Blue: urban futures of regeneration and repair

A community workshop about urbanisation and climate justice.

by Nicole Mechkaroff

It has been a week since our community workshop at the Collingwood Library Meeting Room which was jointly convened by Architects for Peace and Engineers Without Borders. The issues of environmental crisis, urban growth and climate justice have been central concerns to Architects for Peace this year and participants on the night of the workshop were very proactive in identifying issues, actions and solutions responsive to these.

We were joined by guest presenters Dr. Chris Taylor from the Australian National University, Jess Hutchison and Andrew George from Extinction Rebellion (Victoria), and Bianca Anderson from Engineers Without Borders, who put forward various arguments to acknowledge climate emergency including: landscape disturbance patterns across Victoria's forests and incidences of high-severity fire, the meaning of democracy and empowerment in self-organising assemblies targeting (climate) emergency, and self-transformation processes for being morally accountable in times of rapid environmental change.

There was attendance by local Council, scientists, academics and professionals in the built environment, sustainability strategists, activists, and the general community. A collective round-table and whole of group discussion led to the identification of the following:

Issues pertaining to climate crisis:
  • Human ideologies of consumption exceed the Earth's sustainable productivity;
  • 'Vital sign' indicators of a stressed eco-system are being ignored: i.e. diminishing water supplies, loss of rich biodiverse eco-systems from deforestation, animal extinction;
  • Climate change is happening faster than adaptations in human thinking and action;
  • Most people feel disconnected from natural eco-systems and don't see an urgency in societal transformation;
  • First Nations Elders' wisdom and knowledge is not being heard;
  • Data marginalisation and exclusion;
  • Competitive market-values dominate processes of modernisation and urban/regional development.

Necessary actions and solutions:
  • Grow a support system for First Nations peoples and their critical role in environmental conservation: embed Elders' wisdom into constitution and public documents, incorporate First Nations meeting style (yarning circles) into meetings;
  • Expand whole-of-life cycle principles and best practice to have a greater impact on industry. 'Industry leaders' to be held accountable for choices regarding embodied and operational resource use. Lobby to transform these into mandatory requirements instead of a 'premium option';
  • Subsidies and incentives to promote more sustainable development and consumption choices;
  • Criminalise moral negligence;
  • Realise the opportunity in the power of the people for collective positive action - with a gradual change in mindset;
  • Shift tax burden to the use of non-renewable energy and natural resources;
  • Form strategic alliances for and build capacity for action;
  • Personify the issue;
  • As civil society we must be willing to sit at someone else's table;
  • Decouple work and income - a new economic framework.
Many thanks to Chris, Jess, Andrew and Bianca, and all who attended and generously contributed on the night. 

Dr. Chris Taylor has shared a copy his presentation from the night which you can view here:
Forest Ecosystem Mapping and Analysis - An Overview

Image: Dr. Chris Taylor, Australian National University

Image: Jess Hutchison and Andrew George, Extinction Rebellion

Image: Bianca Anderson, Engineers Without Borders


All images are credited to Isabel Torres, Architects for Peace volunteer


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