Advancing a sustainable future
12 April, 2010
Advancing a sustainable future: strategies for cross-disciplinary practice across the Indian Ocean
Report: 12 April, 2010.
This was a conference hosted by the Indian Ocean South Asia Research Network, at the University of Technology, Sydney, 17th – 19th March, 2010. It was convened by members of the network from faculties which do not usually have the chance to work together – Heather Goodall, based in Arts and Social Sciences, Prasanthi Hagare, from Engineering and Leena Thomas, in Architecture.
The Indian Ocean region has many, complex cultures which are heir to long traditions of learning, innovative science and flourishing creative movements. Yet it also faces rising challenges generated by the impact of a globalizing economy, continuing great power rivalry and the impacts of global warming. And all of these problems demand cross-disciplinary strategies to reach solutions.
This conference brought together over 100 researchers, professional practitioners and students from Australia, India, Africa and Indonesia, to exchange views and experiences on cross-disciplinary strategies to achieve social justice as well as effective environmental sustainability in the Indian Ocean. Participants represented an innovative collaboration between researchers and professionals in engineering, architecture, history, geography, international politics and communications.
We shared three days, drawing on cross-disciplinary practice and research for sustainability on the following themes: Strategies in building & infrastructure for social sustainability; Rethinking Environmental History; Day 3: Voices & Movements: imagining the future.
Keynote speakers were Ashok Lall on innovations in low energy urban architecture; Hoysall Chanakya, on technologies for sustainability; Judith Carney & Ed Wilmsen on Africa & trans-oceanic ecological exchanges; Cynthia Mitchell on transdisciplinary strategies for sustainability; Debal Singha Roy on movements for environmental justice; Stephanie Jones on law, history & environmental sovereignty; Haripriya Rangan on ecologies on the move: Africa, India, Australia and Heather Goodall on how to use memory and oral history for sustainability research.
Workshops, discussion papers and panels were contributed from Shankar Sankaran and Chris Riedy on strategies for imagining the future; Sarath Mataraaachchi on post-tsunami planning in Sri Lanka; Ian Manock on disaster management in Bangladesh; Leena Thomas on developing build environment for climate change; Prasanthi Hagare on investigating culturally-appropriate strategies for water and waste management in Indigenous communities; Jade Herriman on global deliberative democracy on global warming; James Goodman on contesting climate policy; Bill Milne-Holme on sustainability research in Laos and Thailand; Juliet Willets and Naomi Carrad on sustainable infrastructure in rapid development situations; Dharma Hagare on planning sustainable urban water systems; Kumi Abeysuriya on sustainable urban sanitation; Nick McClean on protected areas and environmental justice, India & Australia; Jodi Frawley on the politics of ‘invasive’ plant circulations; Thom van Dooren on the power of narratives in making extinctions visible.
The conference ended with a final session to workshop potential cross-disciplinary and trans-oceanic collaborations arising out of these three days of discussion, which had brought such varied participants together. Collaborations are now being developed in three potential projects which will link Australia, Africa and India in comparative and innovative inquiries, with engineering and the built environment outcomes but which will engage a range of geographic, botanical and social sciences in seeking more sustainable Indian Ocean futures.