Building back better: Aspects of the sustainability challenge

Friday 26 November, 4pm IST / 9.30pm AEDT

The richness and ferocity of the public discourse around sustainability, (what it is, what it will be, and how might we achieve it), has increased significantly since January 2020 . This has been driven by our experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic and the many ramifications for individuals, families, communities and humanity, but also in Australia by the devastating 2019-20 bushfire season, and approach to COP26 in Glasgow. Reflecting on the opportunity provided by this Engagement event, we thought about the Australian perspective on sustainability in our cities and on our public lands, and as a nation-continent. We invited Australian colleagues to speak whom we knew would share some interesting experiences and perspectives. Our two Indian colleagues, Dr. Hariharan Chandrashekhar and Mr. Maheep Singh Thapar, are also highly respected citizens who have made significant contributions to society and come highly recommended as experts in their respective fields.

We have asked this respected panel of speakers to reflect on these questions:

  1. How might we strengthen our collective understanding of sustainability solutions through collaboration and debate among our two great nations?
  2. What are some exemplar sustainability solutions being trialled in Indian and Australian cities that might be instructive in the other country?
  3. What are some exemplar sustainability solutions that have been tested in our wonderful public spaces that might shine the light on options for the future?

Session speakers

Dr Gregory Harper PhD FAICD

Gregory Harper is a biological scientist who focuses on the translation of scientific discoveries into commercial, environmental and social outcomes. He is Director of Business Development and International Engagement (India) for the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences within the University of Melbourne.

Gregory has spent his career working in the global science community and has professional expertise in the management of public and private R&D funds. He was awarded a PhD in Biochemistry from Monash University in 1985 before undertaking a Fogarty International postdoctoral Fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, USA.

Gregory has visited India on many occasions and has worked with Indian agricultural entities including the National Dairy Research Institute, the Jawaharlal Nehru University, the National Institute for Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management, and the Shiv Nadar University. His work there has focussed on knowledge exchange and research engagement, to enhance food security and community livelihoods.

Maheep Singh Thapar

Specialisation: Planning & Development Expert, GIS Strategist, Managing Director, ADAPT(A Strategic Planning and Technology Consulting Company based in Hyderabad, India )

Maheep graduated in Planning from SPA, Delhi followed by a Post-Graduation in Urban & Regional Planning from CEPT, Ahmedabad where he was also awarded a gold medal for the “Distinguished Student” award. He has more than two decades of professional experience in the wide-ranging fields related to Development Planning, Technology, Climate Change and Environment and working with Governments, Private sector, People and Societies.  An important focus of his projects is on City Planning, Good Urban Living, Efficiency in Urban Systems, Neighborhood and Township Planning, Strategic Urban Development, Transit Oriented Development, Smart Cities, Technology integration, public participation, capacity building, Maheep is an IVLP Alumnus (US State Dept programme) in Urban Planning and Smart Cities.

He has published numerous articles on urban planning and development issues in various media and also has co-authored a chapter on Managing City Development for Health in India-The Case of Hyderabad in the The Routledge Handbook Of Planning For Health And Well-Being. Maheep is an Editorial Advisor for an International Journal-Cities & Health and a visiting faculty, jury member for various colleges of planning & architecture.

Doug Humann

Doug has almost 40 years of business management, leadership and board experience having participated in the public sector and other boards and committees, along with developing non-government organisations and his own business.

Doug has a particularly high level of knowledge and expertise in environmental conservation, natural resource management, cultural and heritage values management and community engagement through his participation in building collaborations and achieving conservation protection and management in public, private and Indigenous protected areas across Australia. Amongst other current roles, Doug is Chairman of Landcare Australia, a director of the Australian Land Conservation Alliance and of the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority (Victoria),  and is also the part-time Executive Officer of the Protected Areas Collaboration and a member of the IUCN – World Commission on Protected Areas.

Doug has occupied many executive, board and committee roles in his home state of Victoria as well as in Tasmania, South Australia and nationally, including legislated roles on National Parks Advisory Councils in each of those states, and is a member of the Australian Government’s National Wildlife Corridors Plan Advisory Group (2011-2012).

In 2014 Doug was made a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for significant service to conservation and the environment.  He is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Professor Michele Acuto

Professor Michele Acuto is Director of the Melbourne Centre for Cities at the University of Melbourne where he is also Professor in Urban Politics and Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning. A keen researcher and practitioner of urban policy and innovation, not least after dark, he recently co-authored Managing Cities at NightLeading Cities, and How to Build a Global City, and currently serves as a member of the City of Melbourne’s Nighttime Economy Advisory Committee and as a Senior fellow of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Michele was previously professor in urban theory at University College London and at the University of Oxford, having previously taught University of Canberra, Australian National University and University of Southern California. Outside academia, Michele has worked as a diplomat on city leadership for the World Bank Group, and the European Commission response to pandemics, and as expert advisor on city diplomacy for the World Health Organisation.

Professor Robin J Batterham AO, BE, PhD, LLD (Hon. Melb), DSc (Hon. UTS), Hon DEngin (Qld), FAA, FTSE, FREng, FNAE, FSATW, FCAE, FINAE,  FAusIMM, FIChemE, FISS, FAIM, FAICD, FIEAust, CE, CPE, CSci, AMusA

Robin Batterham is the Emeritus Kernot Professor of Engineering at the University of Melbourne.

His interests span mining, mineral processing, metal production and energy systems as well as farming. In all of these he focusses on how what we do can be improved or made better in terms of people, the planet and prosperity: the classic arms of sustainability.

Robin Batterham was Chief Scientist of Australia for 6 years and has worked in senior positions in Industry including as Global Head of Innovation for Rio Tinto. He has chaired the Australian selection panel of the Australia India Strategic Research Fund several times as well as being a member of the Australia India Council. He has visited India many times and in 2016 was elected a Foreign Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering.

Dr. Hariharan Chandrashekar is an Indian ecological economist, mentor for green entrepreneurship, and enabler of industry directions on sustainability and resilience, particularly for buildings, and the built environment.

Hariharan is the founder of Biodiversity Conservation India Limited, a builder of iconic eco-friendly homes, and powerfully pioneering solutions to mainstream frontier technologies for turning waste water in apartments into pure drinking water.

Hariharan presides today over activities of the globally pioneering citizen action initiative, WOW Action Forum and the several thrust areas of public interface that WOW has devised. He mentors a host of green leadership Programmes for Indian industry and academia under SAANSS and the Foundation Green umbrella.

He is also guiding a series of public demo projects for inspiring water and energy conservation among lay Water-users with schools, places of worship and other public buildings executed for water harvesting which will inspire the local community to adopt such practices in their homes.

Over three decades he has led many enterprise initiatives to promote and mainstream sustainability businesses, while in recent years at the AltTech Foundation that he steers, the mission is clearly to accelerate sustainability directions across the board in industry, residential and commercial sectors of urban India.

This event is presented in collaboration with Study Melbourne.

Study Melbourne Victoria Australia