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Sydney Environment Institute announces 2024 collaborative projects

4 September 2023
SEI has awarded its 2024 Collaborative Grants to projects tackling ocean acidification, the carbon cost of medical procedures, climate disaster responses, and more.

The Sydney Environment Institute is thrilled to announce the latest round of recipients of its Collaborative Grants Scheme, offering fellowships for two projects and funding for five in 2024.

From investigating critical wetlands in Sydney to examining climate buffer infrastructure in the Philippines, the projects below tackle some of the greatest challenges of the climate and biodiversity crises.

These multidisciplinary research projects align with the institute’s research themes and contribute to the common good.

Negotiating community benefits in the climate transition

Theme: Environmental Justices

Associate Professor of Practice Amanda Tattersall (Faculty of Science) and Dr Claire Parfitt (Faculty of Arts and Social Science) have been awarded a fellowship to establish how useful Community Benefits Agreements might be in the climate transition in Australia.

Local community coalitions use these agreements as a tool to identify and negotiate community benefits as a condition for gaining their support for local projects. 

Unions and communities developed Community Benefits Agreements in the United States, including for policies around affordable housing, living wages, jobs and training programs, and health and care infrastructure.

Calculating the carbon footprint of medical procedures

Theme: Transitioning Systems

Dr Fabian Sack (Faculty of Science) has been awarded a fellowship to design a carbon footprint calculator for medical procedures. 

The calculator will be designed using NSW Health cost data and environmentally extended input-output analysis.

Dr Sack’s work will serve to inform public health policy so that it aligns with the nationally determined contribution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% below 2005 levels by 2030. 

This proof-of-concept project will build on Sydney Environment Institute research that analysed the carbon costs of common cardiovascular procedures.

Examining climate buffer projects in the Philippines

Theme: Climate Disaster and Adaptation

Dr Justin See (Sydney Environment Institute), Dr Sophie Webber (Faculty of Science), Dr Aaron Opdyke (Faculty of Engineering), Dr Sandra Seno Alday, (Business School), Ginbert Cuaton, (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), and Pearly Joy Peja, (Eastern Visayas State University) have been awarded funding to examine climate buffer infrastructure in the Philippines.

They will examine the costs, benefits, decision-making processes, and business risks linked to infrastructure such as seawalls, wetlands, and mangroves as a means of climate adaptation, and consider the projects’ implications for justice.

Climate transition planning for the property sector 

Theme: Transitioning Systems

Dr Aysu Kuru (School of Architecture, Design and Planning), Associate Professor Arianna Brambilla (School of Architecture, Design and Planning), Dr Ozgur Gocer (School of Architecture, Design and Planning), Dr Nader Naderpajouh (School of Project Management, Faculty of Engineering), and Dr Alastair Fraser (School of Economics, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences) have been awarded funding to lead the development of a climate transition plan for the Australian property sector, focusing on performance, maintenance, retrofits, and asset management.

The project will benchmark against the National Australian Built Environment Rating System to help industry deliver on global decarbonisation targets. 

Researchers will evaluate the property sector for potential climate risk and forecast the trajectory of the rating to reduce the climate risk of properties nationally by 2050.

Mapping climate disaster response networks

Theme: Climate Disaster and Adaptation

Dr Jo Longman, (Faculty of Medicine and Health), Emma Pittaway (Faculty of Medicine and Health), Associate Professor Petr Matous (Faculty of Engineering), Associate Professor Ken Chung (Faculty of Engineering), Professor Amanda Howard (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences), and Associate Professor Margot Rawsthorne (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences) have been awarded funding to collect data on formal disaster response systems.

Building on Sydney Environment Institute research on informal, community-led responses to disaster, the new project will produce a social network map of connections between formal and informal responses to the catastrophic 2022 floods in Lismore.

Tackling ocean acidification through governance

Theme: Environmental Justices

Dr Claire Reymond (Faculty of Science), Professor Tim Stephens (Faculty of Law), Professor Christopher Wright (Business School), and Associate Professor Eleanor Bruce (Faculty of Science) have been awarded funding to investigate the limits and opportunities for addressing ocean acidification under national, regional, and global governance frameworks.

They argue that the challenges of ocean acidification – which is caused by rising carbon dioxide emissions – are unique and cannot be bundled together with traditional climate change responses. 

The project recognises the need for a coordinated effort, through policy and legislation, to address ocean acidification directly.

Rebuilding resilience in the Botany Wetlands

Theme: Biocultural Diversities

Associate Professor Josephine Gillespie, Dr Rebecca Hamilton, and Professor Dan Penny from the Faculty of Science have been awarded funding to investigate the regulations and environmental history of the Botany Wetlands, a 4.5 km corridor of degraded freshwater wetlands and native woodland habitats in Sydney's inner east.

They hypothesise that complex regulations enforce an environmental narrative that may not represent the Botany Wetlands of the past.

Their goal is to offer authorities with a roadmap for the sustainable management and restoration of the wetlands, which filter stormwater runoff, accommodate floodwater, benefit human health, and host rare and endangered ecological communities.

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