To paraphrase the Nobel Prize-winning author J.M. Coetzee, once you know the gravity of a situation and feel sorry about it, the next key question is: “What are you going to do about it?”
For me, societal and environmental issues have always been top of mind, and I decided at an early age to tackle these issues through my own career path. Realising “life on earth as we know it” is at stake, I became a sustainability professional. I began my studies in sociology and graduated in environmental science, inspired by Fritjof Capra’s book, “The Turning Point,” which argues that science must embrace the insights of holism and systems theory to solve society’s complex problems.
As a senior consultant with AECOM’s Urban Systems Advisory group in Sydney, our team works collaboratively across our business in Australia and globally to advance social and environmental outcomes at both the masterplan and design stage. We serve as facilitators driving urban resilience by applying a holistic, sustainability lens to the projects we deliver for our clients. This type of design cannot succeed without taking into consideration climatic challenges and the paramount role of ecosystems in urban environments.
Thinking about this year’s Earth Day theme, “environmental and climate literacy,” I believe being able to mitigate and adapt to climate change requires acknowledgment and leadership from each of us within our own spheres of influence. Geoff Summerhayes, executive board member of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, said “while climate risks have been broadly recognised, they have often been seen as a future problem or a non-financial problem… this is no longer the case. Some climate risks are distinctly ‘financial’ in nature. Many of these risks are foreseeable, material and actionable now.”
In science, we learn that the most collaborative organisms are the most successful ones and in this sense, knowledge sharing can be a powerful enabler for environmental and climate literacy. The global climate predicament we are living in now requires all of us to take responsibility — to build synergies as good neighbours, caring family members and subject matter experts.
In line with my practice, Earth Day is “every day,” and I will continue to share knowledge and advocate for environmental responsibility. Joining this year’s March for Science in Sydney, I plan to celebrate the important and exciting work of scientists, including my childhood astrophysicist friend, Violetta Impellizzeri, who works at ALMA, the largest radio-telescope station in the world. She is one of the scientists attempting to take the first-ever photograph of a black hole!
To all the young people interested in science and making a difference, follow your passions and curiosity and connect with others. Above all, get involved with initiatives close to your heart and become an advocate for change. The world needs you.