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The Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI) at the University of Melbourne, Australia, brings together researchers from different disciplines to help create a more sustainable society. It acts as an information portal for research at the University of Melbourne, and as a collaborative platform where researchers and communities can work together to affect positive change. This book can be freely accessed from MSSI’s website:

Cite as: Pearson, C.J. (editor) (2012). 2020: Vision for a Sustainable Society. Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne Published by Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute in 2012 Ground Floor Alice Hoy Building (Blg 162) Monash Road The University of Melbourne, Parkville Victoria 3010, Australia Text and copyright © Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without prior permission of the publisher. A Cataloguing-in-Publication entry is available from the catalogue of the National Library of Australia at 2020: Vision for a Sustainable Society, ISBN: 978-0-7340-4773-1 (pbk) Produced with Affirm Press Cover and text design by Anne-Marie Reeves Illustrations on pages 228–231 by Michael Weldon Cover image © Brad Calkins | Proudly printed in Australia by BPA Print Group



he last two centuries have seen extraordinary improvements in the quality of human lives. Most people on earth today enjoy access to the necessities of life that was once available only to the elites. Most people enjoy longevity, health, education, information and opportunities to experience the variety of life on earth that was denied even to the rulers of yesteryear. The proportion of humanity living in absolute poverty remains daunting, but continues to fall decade by decade. The early 21st century has delivered an acceleration of the growth in living standards in the most populous developing countries and an historic lift in the trend of economic growth in the regions that had lagged behind, notably in Africa. These beneficent developments are accompanied by another reality. The improvements are not sustainable unless we make qualitative changes in the content of economic growth. The continuation of the current relationship between growth in the material standard of living and pressures on the natural environment will undermine economic growth, political

stability and the foundations of human achievement. The good news is that humanity has already discovered and begun to apply the knowledge that can reconcile continued improvements in the standard of living with reduction of pressures on the natural environment. The bad news is that the changes that are necessary to make high and rising standards of living sustainable are hard to achieve within our current political cultures and systems. Hard, but not impossible. That is a central message from this book, drawn out in Craig Pearson’s concluding chapter. This book introduces the reader to the many dimesions of sustainability, through wellqualified authors. Climate change is only one mechanism through which current patterns of economic growth threaten the natural systems on which our prosperity depend. It is simply the most urgent of the existential threats. Climate change is a special challenge for Australians. We are the most vulnerable of the


developed countries to climate change. And we are the developed country with the highest level of greenhouse gas emissions per person. There are roles for private ethical decisions as well as public policy choices in dealing with the climate change challenge. This book is released at the time of ‘Rio+20’, a conference in Brazil to review the relatively poor progress we have made towards sustainability in the past 20 years, and soon after the introduction of Australia’s first comprehensive policy response to the global challenge of climate change. Australia’s emissions trading scheme with an initially fixed price for emissions permits comes into effect on 1 July 2012. The new policy discourages activities that generate greenhouse gases by putting a price on emissions. The revenue raised by carbon pricing will be returned to households and businesses in ways that retain incentives to reduce emissions. Part of the revenue will be used to encourage production and use of goods and services that embody low emissions. The policy has been launched in controversy. Interests that stand to gain from the discrediting of the policy argue that it is unnecessary either because the case for global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the associated climate change has not been proven, or that the new policy places a disproportionate burden on Australians. The health of our civilisation requires us to bring scientific knowledge to account in public policy. Everyone who shares the knowledge that is the common heritage of humanity has


a responsibility to explain the realities to others wherever and whenever they can. The argument that the new policy places a disproportionate burden on Australians can be answered by seeking honestly to understand what others are doing. The critics of Australian policy argue that the world’s two largest national emitters of greenhouse gases, China and the United States, are doing little or nothing to reduce emissions, so that it is either pointless or unnecessary for us to do so. China has advanced a long way towards achieving its target of reducing emissions as a proportion of economic output by 40 to 45 per cent between 2005 and 2020. It has done this by forcing the closure of emissions-intensive plants and processes that have exceptionally high levels of emissions per unit of output, by imposing high emissions standards on new plants and processes, by charging emissionsintensive activities higher electricity prices, by subsidising the introduction of low-emissions activities, and by new and higher taxes on fossil fuels. China has introduced trials of an emissions trading system in five major cities and two provinces. This adds up to a cost on business and the community that exceeds any burden placed on Australians by the new policies – bearing in mind that the revenue from Australian carbon pricing is returned to households and businesses. The US Government has advised the international community of its domestic policy target to reduce 2005 emissions by 17 per cent by 2020. President Barack Obama said

to the Australian Parliament that all countries should take seriously the targets that they had reported to the international community, and made it clear that the United States did so. United States efforts to reduce emissions are diffuse but far-reaching. They now include controls on emissions from electricity generators, announced in March 2012, effectively excluding any new coal-based power generation after the end of this year unless it embodies carbon capture and storage. From the beginning of next year they will include an emissions trading system in the most populous and economically largest state, California. The United States is making reasonable progress towards reaching its emissions reduction goals, with some actions imposing high costs on domestic households and businesses. Australia has now taken steps through which we can do our fair share in the international effort, at reasonable cost. It would be much harder and more costly to do our fair share without the policies that are soon to take effect. What Australians do over the next few years will have a significant influence on humanity’s prospects for handing on the benefits of modern civilisation to future generations. This book will help Australians to understand their part in the global effort for sustainability. Ross Garnaut University of Melbourne 15 April 2012


Contents Foreword by Ross Garnaut Table of Contents

v viii

Author Biographies




1 Population Rebecca Kippen and Peter McDonald


2 Equity Helen Sykes


3 Consumption Craig Pearson


4 Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change David Karoly


5 Energy Peter Seligman





Ethics Craig Prebble



Culture Audrey Yue and Rimi Khan



Awareness and Behaviour Angela Paladino



Local Matters Matter Kate Auty


10 Public Wisdom Tim van Gelder


11 Mental Health Grant Blashki


12 Disease Peter Doherty


13 Corporate Sustainability Liza Maimone


14 Governance John Brumby



Natural Resources


15 Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Rodney Keenan


16 Water Hector Malano and Brian Davidson


17 Food Sunday McKay and Rebecca Ford


18 Zero Carbon Land-Use Chris Taylor and Adrian Whitehead




19 Changing Cities Peter Newman and Carolyn Ingvarson


20 Affordable Living Thomas Kvan and Justyna Karakiewicz


21 Built Environment Pru Sanderson


22 Infrastructure Colin Duffield


23 Transport Monique Conheady


24 Adaptive Design Ray Green


25 Handling Disasters Alan March




26 Twenty Actions Craig Pearson


Further Reading





07 Culture Audrey Yue and Rimi Khan


ulture has recently been considered the ‘fourth pillar’ of sustainability that connects the social, economic and environmental realms. The arts, in particular, is an important tool for imparting information, empowering the community and encouraging transformation. This chapter briefly surveys some examples of arts and cultural programs that pursue ‘cultural vitality’ and, in doing so, highlights the relationship between culture and environmental conceptions of sustainability. The chapter then turns to broader notions of sustainability, which encompass ‘culture’ both as an end in itself and as a means of building capacities. To promote the value of culture in discussions about sustainability, this chapter proposes the

development of cultural indicator frameworks. These possibilities are demonstrated with the example of the City of Whittlesea – a local government area in Victoria, Australia, which emphasises the role of cultural programs in contributing to social, environmental and economic capacities, as well as enabling an inclusive and vital community life.

Cultural Vitality, the Arts and Sustainability As the cornerstone of arts and cultural development projects, cultural vitality uses culture to generate a sense of belonging, or raise awareness about the issues and challenges involved in sustainable development and

What is culture? In 2001, Jon Hawkes, an Australia-based cultural policy commentator, remarked that ‘culture’ refers to ‘the social production and transmission of identities, knowledge, beliefs, values, attitudes and understanding; as well as the way of life, including customs, codes and manners, dress, cuisine, language, arts, technology, religion and rituals; norms and regulations of behaviour, traditions and institutions. There, culture is both the medium and the message – the inherent values, means and the results of social expression.’ In UNESCO’s 2009 report on cultural diversity, ‘culture’ is also defined broadly as a ‘part of everyday life, reflected in many forms of human activity and expression, and involving beliefs, attitudes and practices including all forms of artistic and creative expression’.



natural management. Cultural vitality is nurtured by focusing on the wellbeing, creativity and diversity produced by everyday forms of community interaction and involvement; and in doing so, contributes to social equity, environmental responsibility and economic viability, and is essential to a healthy and sustainable society. SunRise 21 and CERES provide examples:

SunRise 21 (Sunraysia’s Regional Initiative for a Sustainable Economy) In the 1990s, SunRise 21 was an innovative example of sustainable development fostered through integrating the arts, business and environment. Based in northern Victoria, where the degradation of land and water has threatened the viability of industries and the social fabric of a community, SunRise 21 was set up as a partnership between the Mildura Arts Centre, Murray-Darling Basin Freshwater Research Centre, CSIRO, and the Department of Primary Industries and Energy. It created an ‘Artists in Industry’ program that developed landscape installations, musical theatre and multimedia exhibitions exploring knowledge about the land, water, women in farming, and histories of irrigation and engineering. These diverse arts practices celebrated agriculture practices, sparked discussions in the community, generated a national debate about the importance of sustainability and responsible resource management, and functioned as effective tools for communication, increased critical engagement and positive attitudinal change amongst individual and stakeholder participants.


CERES (Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies) In the 2000s, a longstanding communitybased program in the inner-Melbourne suburb of East Brunswick, CERES, was redeveloped as a five-hectare site of interactive environmental and cultural displays, permaculture gardens, farm animals, an indigenous nursery, a cafe, restaurant, organic market and stage. CERES stages a variety of arts festivals including the annual Festival of the Sacred Kingfisher as its centerpiece. Festival funding comes from key arts agencies such as Australia Council of the Arts, Arts Victoria, Festivals Australia, Parks Victoria and VicHealth. Community support for CERES includes organisations such as Friends of the Earth, Permaculture Melbourne, Australian Conservation Foundation and the Wilderness Society. As a meeting hub of the environmental, educational and multicultural, CERES approaches sustainability through a shared sense of place where material and symbolic exchanges take place through the interaction of diverse stakeholders. It has renewed the degradation of a neighbouring habitat that encouraged the return of migratory birds and fostered a sustainable relationship of people with nature. It uses the cultural facilities and programs offered at the site to create awareness of these environmental issues, fosters a sense of belonging to the physical landscape, and facilitates a convivial and open forum for discussing environmentally pertinent issues.


The CERES Permaculture Nursery, Brunswick. Source: Rimi Khan.

Measuring Sustainability: the Role of Cultural Citizenship The arts is an important vehicle for information transfer, community mobilisation and empowerment. Arts education and practice can generate debate, stimulate advocacy and encourage innovation. This diverse set of outcomes has led to calls for better systems of measurement and advocacy for arts and cultural programs. In recent years, arts impact studies have put the spotlight on the economic value of culture. This has prompted government agencies to develop cultural measurement tools to map the creative sector of the economy. However, this emphasis on the economic has been accompanied by the need to defend the ‘public value’ of culture (in the UK) or the role of multiculturalism as a feature of creative

diversity (in Canada and New Zealand). In Australia, economic and social models of culture have been combined to consider not only financial and cultural values, but also social engagement. While cultural economics models follow a commodity-centered approach to the arts, cultural analysts such as Chris Madden and Nancy Duxbury suggest cultural indicators can help promote the public value of the arts and the role it can play in social cohesion. It is along these lines that we suggest cultural indicators have a crucial role in broad measures of sustainability. Cultural indicators can include both quantitative and qualitative data. Our recent work in the field seeks to incorporate rich, ethnographic information about a community’s



cultural interests. Unlike the descriptive nature of statistics, indicators enable more effective arts advocacy, as well as providing a robust evidencebase for strategic planning and policy-making around sustainability. Nancy Duxbury’s work has shown that for indicators to be most meaningful, they should be developed at local levels focusing on a people-centred approach to community wellbeing. It is here that ‘cultural vitality’ and ‘cultural citizenship’ have emerged as key measures within a framework of cultural indicators. The results of these impact studies are not surprising. Discussions about sustainable development are embedded in the core values of justice and equality. An ideal sustainability measure would be an interactive measure of how long and how well a certain feature of the quality of health or health of a natural system could maintain itself. Such a measure would require a clear definition of the capacity of a system, region or community to continue without degrading the environment while sustaining human and biological life at a certain healthy level. Against these measures, cultural vitality – and its processes of cultural citizenship – are central to sustainability.

Cultural Vitality The Washington-based Urban Institute’s Arts and Culture Indicators in Community Building Project has developed a comprehensive definition of cultural vitality and tools for how to measure it. Maria Jackson and her team suggest that ‘cultural vitality’ refers to ‘the range of cultural assets and activity people


Cultural citizenship Cultural citizenship, the process of making claims to cultural rights through civic engagement, is central to the sustainability movement. In cultural indicator projects, cultural citizenship has become a new rubric to encapsulate the discourses of vitality, grassroots democracy, wellbeing and quality of life. Cultural citizenship focuses on cultural expression, production and participation as key avenues through which citizenship develops and lives. It stresses the importance of considering not just inputs and outputs, but also outcomes. around the country register as significant. Specifically…cultural vitality [is defined] as evidence of creating, disseminating, validating, and supporting arts and culture as a dimension of everyday life in communities.’ Central to this understanding of cultural vitality is an inclusive and flexible notion of what constitutes ‘cultural participation’. Applying this framework to the creative economy of Massachusetts, the Institute shows how the mixed model of profit, non-profits and community arts activities add to the cultural, economic and environmental vibrancy of the region. As Colin Mercer, a Canadian-based cultural policy theorist notes, the political significance of culture lies in ‘constructing, understanding – and sometimes contesting – versions of citizenship and enhancing our definitions and practices of citizenship beyond the formal and legal definitions’. Community indicator projects present an opportunity to


A new housing development in South Morang, in the City of Whittlesea. Source: Rimi Khan

highlight these relationships and dynamics, and integrate cultural citizenship considerations in local knowledge and governance systems. The following case study of the City of Whittlesea in a growth corridor of Melbourne exemplifies these objectives:

Culture and Sustainability in the City of Whittlesea The City of Whittlesea is known in Australia as an ‘interface city’. Located approximately 20km outside of central Melbourne, it lies on the cusp of the northern suburbs and semirural Victoria. Geographically one of the largest municipalities in greater Melbourne, it is also one of the most culturally diverse, with more than half of its residents coming from culturally diverse backgrounds. These interface cities are also among the fastest growing local government areas in Australia and face

a very specific cultural policy challenge: how to accommodate high population growth and increasing cultural diversity, given the historical lack of cultural infrastructure. The City of Whittlesea’s Community Cultural Development department approaches this issue by providing a framework that addresses sustainability and is responsive to shifting population dynamics. Within this department, ‘culture’ is defined broadly, enabling a range of artistic, civic and communal forms of participation and expression. The department comprises six portfolios: festivals and events; cultural heritage; community development and performance; cultural collections; a multicultural unit; and an Aboriginal liaison unit. It offers a suite of arts and cultural programs that emphasise the value of culture as both an end in itself, as well as culture’s value in promoting conviviality, capacitybuilding, and facilitating social capital and



civic participation. Both strategies reflect an understanding of the diverse forms that cultural participation takes and the manifold outcomes of such participation. The First Impressions Youth Theatre is an example of an arts program that facilitates sustainability through the development of both cultural vitality and citizenship. This youth theatre program was established in 1999 and has since been involved in a vast number of projects and performances. Productions have ranged from intimate presentations to less than 10 people, to major shows at the annual City of Whittlesea community festival, for audiences of up to 10,000 people. Recent productions have included a performance at a skate-park using multimedia projections called Read the News Today…Oh Boy, as well as a performance for the 2008 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Significantly, over the years the program has moved from being simply a theatre-training program, aimed at equipping its participants with basic performance skills, to a respected local theatre group, experimenting with genre and thematic content. The First Impressions Youth Theatre exemplifies the role of cultural participation in contributing to community sustainability. The program contributes directly to a wide set of participant skills such as teamwork, cooperative work practices and problemsolving. It also has a particularly strong role in developing creative skills such as acting and playwriting: it offers a workshop program that provides training and mentoring from professional artists in areas as diverse as setbuilding, physical theatre, film and multimedia, 62

comedy, fire sculpture and clowning. Through the use of drama for self-expression the program also increases participants’ confidence levels. For some participants this has contributed to developing capacity for leadership and initiative, as well as a collective capacity to be a self-organising group. This is related to a more general sense of ownership that is encouraged within the group and the program’s facilitators. Many of the First Impressions Youth Theatre’s productions are concerned with issues of difference, identity and diversity. Such themes encourage the development of progressive, cosmopolitan capacities among young participants. This also contributes to the cultural capital of participants, by increasing their knowledge of a range of cultural forms and providing them with the tools to eventually participate in the cultural economy as professional artists. More generally, the group provides a forum for young people to make new friends and strengthen their personal social networks. The development of this social capital is particularly important for some participants who have been at risk of isolation or exclusion from the school system. In this respect, the openness of the group is important. There are no specific criteria or prerequisites for inclusion in the group and admission is free of charge. The youth theatre is one example of a range of arts and cultural programs, which contribute to social and cultural sustainability by encouraging cultural participation and the expression of diversity. The outcomes of these programs are complex and multifaceted; while it is tempting to prescribe what the impacts of


such cultural participation should be, it is worth noting that such impacts are highly specific to the individuals, sites and cultural forms, and have a range of implications for sustainability. It is by allowing people to participate in culture – whatever form that participation may take – through a framework which supports a diversity of expressions – that individual and communal capacities that further cultural sustainability are developed.

ACTIONS FOR 2020 We need to better understand the specific outcomes for sustainability of participation in cultural programs. As the examples above highlight, these outcomes depend on local context. Cultural programs have the potential to build capacities to participate in the environmental, economic and social spheres. They also contribute to the autonomy of community groups and foster belonging. Emphasising the place of culture within these processes is a crucial step in ensuring sustainability. One way to achieve this is for arts policy makers at all government levels, and arts programs, to develop better frameworks for measuring the role of culture in cultivating sustainability: eg, by using locally specific cultural indicators that will be relevant to, and benefit, the community.


Further Reading Culture Blandy, D. (2011). Sustainability, Participatory Culture, and the Performance of Democracy: Ascendant Sites of Theory and Practice in Art Education. Studies in Art Education: A Journal of Issues and Research in Art Education, 52, 243–255. Duxbury, N. (2008). Cultural Citizenship and Community Indicator Projects: Approaches and Challenges in the Local / Municipal Context. Creative Local Communities: Cultural Vitality and Human Rights, 1, 48–66. Filor, L. (2000). Sacred Kingfisher. Artwork Magazine 47. Adelaide: Community Arts Network SA Inc. Hawkes, J. (2001). The fourth pillar of sustainability, Melbourne: Cultural Development Network. Jackson, M. R., Kabwasa-Green, F., Herranz, J. (2006). Cultural Vitality in Communities: Interpretation and Indicators. Washington DC: Culture, Creativity, and Communities Program, The Urban Institute, 2006. Madden, C. (2005). Indicators for Arts and Cultural Policy: A Global Perspective. Cultural Trends 14, 217–247. Mercer, C. (2005). From indicators to governance to the mainstream: Tools for cultural policy and citizenship. Andrew, C., Gattinger, M., Jeannotte, M., Straw, W. eds. Accounting for culture: Thinking through cultural citizenship, University of Ottawa Press. Sunrise 21 (1999). Sunrise 21 Artists in Industry Information Package. Mildura: Mildura Arts Centre. United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO) (2009). Investing in Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue. Paris, UNESCO. Vivian, H. (2000). Interceptions: Art, Science and Land in Sunraysia. Mildura, Mildura Arts Centre and Artmoves Inc. World Commission on Environment and Development (1987). Our Common Future. Oxford University Press. Yue, A., Khan, R., and Brook, S. (2011). Developing a local cultural indicator framework in Australia: a case study of the City of Whittlesea. Journal of Culture and Local Governance, 13, 133–149.

Culture | 2020 Vision for a Sustainable Society  
Culture | 2020 Vision for a Sustainable Society  

Chapter Seven - Culture