Nicolas Francois – Day 5

This day was less focused on the National Park itself and its biodiversity but more on the urban interface and fire management. It was a day with highs and lows in terms of motivation!

From a business perspective it became apparent that promoting the health of the ecosystem throughout the National Park had to be closely linked to economic benefits for anything to happen, or at least to appeal to the personal desire and objectives of business owners. As an example, while sustainability is supposed to promote a better management of natural resources for the benefit of future generations globally, it is already a start if sustainability can benefit the direct future generations of one single business owner for this business owner to start taking actions in favour of the environment.

And eventually this is true for most of the population here and anywhere in the world, usually people, while perhaps feeling sorry for the plight of others, are not interested in saving the world, making sure Bangladesh does not get in a state of perpetual flooding or even that Brisbane is not subject to more and more extreme cyclone- it does not affect them. What they care about is their kids, their property and their lifestyle. This reminds me of the speech that US President Obama delivered earlier this year to try to introduce stronger policies to limit climate change, he never mentioned increased temperature (which is the real issue) but talked about the impact of pollution on our kids health (e.g. asthma), he tried to reach to people on topics they can relate to, even though this is a secondary effect of climate change. In a similar way our chat with Nic Moody was interesting in the way he approached businesses to provide them free consulting to improve their sustainability. He realised that businesses were not interested in waste management, water management and other sustainable initiatives but they were concerned about the cost of energy. Therefore he used this topic and the potential for energy savings through sustainable practices to get his foot in the door and then provide further advices in other sustainability areas. Again this is an example that you first need to understand the values of your stakeholders to influence best on their behaviour.

The discussion around funding and how to engage with companies to obtain pro-bono services was interesting. Most companies see the council as a great source of revenue and everyone tries to milk them, under this perspective it is hard for them to understand that part of the Council is struggling on limited budget (e.g. the sustainability department). Our discussion with Paul at Rural Fire Services was refreshing as we could feel he had a real interest in the conservation of Biodiversity in the Blue Mountains. His description of the bushfire management plan seems to emphasise that despite not being the top priority nature conservation is always taken into consideration. As Rosalie said we would possibly have had a different impression if the talk had been delivered by David Jones who is not from the Blue Mountains and has a much more managerial approach to the situation, and as a matter of fact his presentation did not have anywhere indicated that Biodiversity conservation is a priority in itself. This illustrates the fact that even within a same group you can have different perspectives, in the same way that Geoffrey possibly has more concern for the environment than many other city council officers. It can also give hope that some business do genuinely care for the state of the ecosystem in the Blue Mountains and that support, care and recognition for the value of Biodiversity in the Blue Mountains can be obtain from the economic community.

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