Reimagining environmental responsibility after the State of the Environment report

In response to the dire findings of the recent State of the Environment Report, this panel will explore the political, economic and ideological constraints that got us here, and the ways forward to ensure meaningful environmental protection.

The recent State of the Environment Report lays out the dire conditions of the Australian environment, and the ongoing threats from development and climate change. This panel discussion will explore the political, economic, and legal pathways that got us here – and creative ways forward for environmental protection.

Our experts will look back at the various political, economic, and ideological constraints that have brought us to this current ‘state of the environment’. Focusing on current limitations, we will examine the deliberate construction of inadequate policies and funding, the criminalisation of protest, and the understanding of ‘responsibility’ that actually protects perpetrators of environmental damage.

Crucially, we will then look forward to creative ways to reshape conceptual, political, and economic relations – with each other and the environment – as the necessary response to the State of the Environment report. This includes ideas for a just transition to sustainability which reconciles vigorous environmental protections with productive economic policy, notions of responsibility that expand the concept beyond human beings alone, and the role of First Nations perspectives on care, connection, and place so crucial to human/environment relations in Australia.

This event was presented online on Tuesday 16 August 2022.

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Danielle Celermajer is a Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney, and Deputy Director – Academic of the Sydney Environment Institute. Her books include Sins of the Nation and the Ritual of Apology (Cambridge University Press 2009), A Cultural Theory of Law in the Modern Age (Bloomsbury, 2018), and The Prevention of Torture: An Ecological Approach (Cambridge University Press, 2018). She is Director of the Multispecies Justice Project and along with her multispecies community, she has recently lived through the NSW fires, writing in the face of their experience of the “killing of everything”, which she calls “omnicide”. She is the Research Lead on Concepts and Practices of Multispecies Justice.

Gerry Bates teaches environmental law and sustainability at USYD. He is the author of ‘Environmental Law in Australia’; editor-in-chief of the Environment and Planning Law Journal; and a former Board Member of the NSW EPA. He is currently working with the Mulloon Institute on removing regulatory hurdles for land rehydration projects.

Frank Stilwell is Professor Emeritus in Political Economy at the University of Sydney and coordinating editor of the Journal of Australian Political Economy. His books and articles have addressed economic issues from social justice, urban, regional and environmental perspectives, recently focussing on topics such as prospects for a Green New Deal, the pollical economy of inequality, and the diverse currents in political economic thought. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and an Executive member of the Evatt Foundation.

David Morris is Chief Executive Officer of the Environmental Defenders Office following the EDO merger, which saw the creation of the single regionally focused EDO in 2019. He is responsible for leading the organisation to advance the EDO’s mission of ‘A world where nature thrives’. David oversees the strategic direction of EDO’s public interest environmental law services.

David Schlosberg (Chair) is Director of the Sydney Environment Institute and Professor of Environmental Politics at the University of Sydney. His work focuses on environmental and climate justice, environmental movements, sustainability in everyday life, and climate adaptation/resilience planning and policy.


Header image of sheep searching for something to eat in a dry dusty paddock during a dust storm driven by strong wind in drought striken Central West New South Wales by Chris Ison via Shutterstock ID: 1508185379.