The Switch Report chats with Geoff Gourley

April 30th, 2013

Geoff Gourley’s “day job” is Director – Sustainability Integration at NuGreen Solutions.  He is also the Founder and Executive Director of the not-for-profit company Shape Our Future, and a board member of the United Nations Association of Australia – Victorian Division. Somehow, Geoff managed to find the time to talk to The Switch Report.

To start at the beginning, where does your green streak come from?

I grew up in country Victoria, in Traralgon, and spent a lot of time out in the country or down at our beach house. I was also into Scouts so I’ve always had a natural affinity for the environment. I also remember a school trip to the Hazelwood and Yallourn power stations, and seeing a diorama that showed whole towns like Traralgon being moved so they could get at the brown coal underneath them. To me it was a horrifying prospect.

More recently, doing the Centre for Sustainability Leadership Fellowship program in 2008 was a transformative experience. This brought me into contact with sustainability advocates from outside of the built environment sector that I’m most familiar with, people from the law, the arts and social sectors, and that had a lot to do with me starting Shape Our Future.

In amongst your non-profit activities, you’ve also held senior positions with large companies for many years. How do these two areas relate to your personal goals?

Everything I do is linked to a mission to influence either business or the community to becoming more sustainable – to produce a more positive outcome. It involves visioning, funding and supporting dreamers and doers and thought leaders. There’s a business side to it, and a community side, with different drivers and different conversations. I like the diversity of friends I’ve made through these different activities, and on the business side I get to influence the big decision makers who hold the purse strings.

You talk about sustainability leadership, and how it will lead business and the community into a sustainable future. If someone with the profile of Al Gore has had difficulty in motivating the world into action, is it possible to lead people to sustainability?

With leadership it’s important to take a position, but then you need to show the benefits. This works with business where you can show that becoming more sustainable improves the bottom line and adds to future business value. We can make a change within a business and then use that as a case study to show others businesses that they can improve staff retention, make more profit and gain other benefits. Then we’ve created a new norm. Sustainability leadership is about both business and the community, but it’s my personal belief that it will be business that leads us down the sustainability path.

In 2009 you said “We face a global climate crisis, more than ever before. We need innovative and immediate change in paradigms to unlock sustainability as a pathway for future generations.” Has progress been made in this area or are we becoming less sustainable?

Sustainability as a term has been done to death. That said, there has been a significant improvement in sustainability, especially overseas. A lot of leaders are stepping up, making commitments and undertaking ethical investments. Climate skeptics are getting less exposure, and there is more public recognition of the problems we face and the need to do something. We’re on the right pathway, although things are not happening as quickly as we would hope.

As a not-for-profit, how does Shape Our Future get on for funding?

Shape Our Future relies on the voluntary efforts of 12 to 14 people. Any paid roles are outsourced, but money is hard to get and we don’t traditionally apply for grants. We have run fundraising events, we do seek donations, and I have also provided financial support.

It’s no different with the United Nations Association of Australia. Even with the UN brand behind it, it’s hard to attract financial support.

It was announced this month that Shape Our Future had acquired Sustainability Drinks. Tell us about your plans.

Sustainability Drinks never had a formal structure. It was simply a group of people who made it happen, although it remained fairly dependent on Dan Atkins’ involvement. Bringing it under the Shape Our Future umbrella will give it more structure, and while I will be putting in some of my own money to help things along, it will remain not-for-profit.

Our first priority is to ensure that the current events program rolls on. We want to quickly expand the Sustainability Drinks events in Sydney and Brisbane, then around the other state and territory capitals. The 2014 calendar will be put together early in the piece, and we will be looking for international speakers, too. Our aim is to simply make it THE sustainability networking event across Australia. I think we’ll also need to attract some sponsorship to put Sustainability Drinks itself onto a more sustainable footing.

Other plans are to run events in addition to the monthly meetings, including forums that bring sustainability professionals together. And although it’s early days, I’m hoping we can organise the world’s biggest Green Drinks event to coincide with the next Sustainable Living Festival.

When do you sleep?

Oh, I’m pretty organised. I’m good at being in the moment and focusing all my attention on whatever I’m doing at the time. I’m not a nine to five person, and I’ve used my most recent holidays to look at eco-resorts. And nothing feels like work.

nugreen.com.au

studio-green.org

Original article A Chat With Geoff Gourley written by
Alistair McCaskill – Editor - The Switch Report
By Assemblo
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Sustainability Drinks Australia Acquisition

sustainability drinks australia

Sustainability Drinks Australia announces new leadership and national expansion.

At last nights monthly “Melbourne Sustainability Drinks” event hosted at Slate Bar, in Melbourne, Lauren Kehoe of Shaper Group announced the formal acquisition of the Sustainability Drinks Australia organisation by Melbourne based, Social Entrepreneur, Geoff Gourley.

Ms Kehoe said, “Melbourne Sustainability Drinks has become one of Melbourne’s most highly regarded and successful monthly networking events. Geoff is a Sustainability “heavy-weight” in Australia, and the right person to expand Sustainability Drinks nationally”.

Melbourne Sustainability Drinks commenced in August 2007, as a group of passionate individuals felt there was a need for people working in, or wanting to learn more about, sustainability to meet, exchange ideas, hear different perspectives and feel supported in facing the social, environmental and economic challenges and opportunities we face.

She further said “Mr Dan Atkins, original founder of the organisation and event, fully endorses Mr Gourley’s acquisition and feels his passion, commitment and leadership in Sustainability, combined, with his extensive networks and relationships, can expand the Sustainability Drinks events on a national scale”.

Events currently run monthly in Melbourne and Adelaide, with Darwin, Sydney and Brisbane to commence in the latter part of 2013; and Perth, Hobart and Canberra commencing in early 2014.

Past speakers include;
Arron Wood -2007 recipient, Prime Minister’s Environmentalist of the Year Award & Melbourne City Councilor & regular on 3AW; Larissa Brown – Founder, Centre for Sustainability Leadership & 2008 Australian Young Environmentalist of the Year and the 2010 Victorian Young Australian of the Year;
Charles Kovess – President, Global Energy Network Institute and known as Australasia’s Passion Provocateur; and Luke Taylor – Director of The Sustainable Living Foundation; to mention just a few.

About Sustainability Drinks Australia

Sustainability Drinks emerged with a casual get together of ten and now, 5 years on, offers an environment which nurtures and fosters the sharing of sustainability success stories and hosts up to 200 people each month.

The events run from 6-8pm on a select day of every month and a speaker presents for 10 minutes at 7pm.

The Sustainability Drinks belief is that through the sharing of ideas, and stories of success, we can help create the change that we want to see in this world.

These events provide an opportunity to meet other people interested in creating a more sustainable world, exchange ideas and hear different perspectives about the social and environmental challenges we face. Attendees meet a wide range of passionate people who are interested in making a positive difference.

At Sustainability Drinks you buy your own drinks and the atmosphere enables people to introduce themselves and feel comfortable with meeting new people and exchanging ideas. We encourage people to join us and invite friends and colleagues who share the same values.

An open invitation is extended to all who are “passionate about sustainability” to come and mingle with like minded people and listen to a speaker share their sustainability story.

http://sustainabilitydrinks.com/
@s_drinks_aus

About Geoff Gourley

As a leading Global Social Entrepreneur Geoff possess more than 21 years experience in the environmental, sustainability, property and business communities.

Geoff is founder and company director of Shape Our Future, NuGreen Solutions; and is a board member of the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) Vic.

Mr Gourley was raised in country Victoria, in the heart of the coal mining, electricity generation and pine plantation region, he has a strong and founded passion for community service, protecting the environment and creating a sustainable planet.

His personal mission is “to lead, develop and influence business and community to a sustainable future.”

My Gourley said, “I hope to see my visions come to life, by working with, influencing and encouraging communities and businesses to take a more sustainable approach, ensuring a sustainable future for the global community”.

http://au.linkedin.com/in/geoffgourley
http://studio-green.org/
@geoffgourley