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
web:
theswitchreport.com.au
assemblo.com 
twitter: @theswitchreport
facebook.com/theswitchreport

 

Geoff Gourley elected to Board of United Nations Association of Australia

216209-un-security-council-membership

Geoff Gourley elected to Board of United Nations Association of Australia

On Wednesday 21st November 2012 at the Victorian Division Annual General Meeting for United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA), Founder and Executive Director of Shape Our Future, Geoffrey Gourley was elected to the UNAA Board.

Mr Gourley said “I am privileged and honoured to have been elected to one of the vacant positions and look forward to making a lasting contribution to the fantastic work the UNAA is undertaking in Australia”.

In addition to Mr Gourley’s appointment, Magdalena Roal Batchelor, Andrew Stevens and Bruce Coyne were also elected by the members to the vacant positions, and Mark Pizzacalla was elected as Treasurer and Murray McInnis was elected as President.

The new board now consists of the following…

  • President: Murray McInnis
  • Immediate Past President: Graham Hunter
  • Vice President: Graeme Worner
  • Treasurer: Mark Pizzacalla
  • Secretary: Patricia Collett

Board Members:                 

  • Kevin Childs
  • Bruce Coyne
  • Geoff Gourley
  • Ian Howie
  • Magdalena Roal Batchelor
  • Andrew Stevens

At the AGM outgoing president Graham Hunter thanked all the members for their support for the activities of the Association throughout the year.

Please find attached below the Annual Report outlining all of the programs and events for the past financial year.

UNAA Victoria_Annual Report_2011-2012

Please feel free to forward this report on to your contacts and networks. Any assistance in promoting our work would be greatly appreciated.

About the UNAA

The United Nations is an international organisation founded in 1945 after the Second World War by 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.

The UNAA Victoria is a non-profit, non-government, membership-based, community organisation working to promote the aims and ideals of the United Nations and seek support for the UN and its programs and agencies.

http://www.unaavictoria.org.au/

The UNAA is committed to building a strong, credible and effective UN. We advocate support for the UN in the Australian community and seek to demonstrate why the UN matters to people everywhere.

Our primary purpose is to raise awareness about the UN and its work and engage the Australian community on key issues on the UN agenda.

We play a critical role in connecting Australians with the United Nations and educating the community on key international and local environmental, human rights and social justice issues.

United Nations Associations represent a vital link between the United Nations and citizens of its member states. In Australia, the Association is represented in every state and territory through its divisions and national body.

The divisions work together to campaign in support of the UN and its current priorities such as the Millennium Development Goals, human rights, gender equality, the environment, global health, sustainable development, peace and security.