New England Sustainability Strategy

Foundation Report

January 2009

Foundation Report

Table of Contents
Executive Summary...................................................................................................................3 Purpose for the Strategy............................................................................................................5
What is Sustainability?.....................................................................................................................................6

Background & Process...............................................................................................................7
NESSiE..............................................................................................................................................................7 Development Process Map...............................................................................................................................7 Research & Analysis.........................................................................................................................................8 Current Sustainability......................................................................................................................................8 Public Forum...................................................................................................................................................10 dotNESS..........................................................................................................................................................12 Documentary...................................................................................................................................................13 Media & Communications..............................................................................................................................13 Documenting the Process...............................................................................................................................14

“Foundation Strategy”..............................................................................................................15
Vision...............................................................................................................................................................15 Strategies for Sustainability............................................................................................................................18 Regional Regeneration..............................................................................................................................18 Building on Strengths & Assets.................................................................................................................20 Culture of Sustainability............................................................................................................................21 New Energy...............................................................................................................................................22 A Dozen Roses Bloom...............................................................................................................................23 Priorities & Initiatives....................................................................................................................................23 Performance Indicators..................................................................................................................................25 Emerging Principles.......................................................................................................................................27 Leadership & Governance..............................................................................................................................28 Lessons from Past & Present Regional Strategies....................................................................................29 NESSiE......................................................................................................................................................30 NESSo........................................................................................................................................................31 Funding & Resources......................................................................................................................................32

Sustainability in Action...........................................................................................................33
Solar New England Region Project................................................................................................................33 NEDDS............................................................................................................................................................34 DotNESS.........................................................................................................................................................34 Biodiversity in High Country..........................................................................................................................35 Further Developments....................................................................................................................................35

Next Steps................................................................................................................................36 Appendices..............................................................................................................................40
Financial Supporters......................................................................................................................................40 About NESSiE.................................................................................................................................................41 Terms of Reference.........................................................................................................................................43 Financial Report.............................................................................................................................................44 SWOC Reports................................................................................................................................................45 Youth..........................................................................................................................................................45 Social..........................................................................................................................................................46 Environment..............................................................................................................................................47 Economic...................................................................................................................................................49 Government (Armidale Dumaresq Council).............................................................................................50 Global.........................................................................................................................................................51 First Stage Research Undertaken...................................................................................................................52 Illustration Index............................................................................................................................................53

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Executive Summary
The purpose of this Foundation Report is to quantify the outcomes of the first stage of work developing the New England Sustainability Strategy (NESS), outlining the process that was undertaken and identifying the second phase of work to complete the Strategy. The New England Region has been a place of creating and exchanging higher knowledge for tens of thousands of years. Today, as a welcoming1, multi-cultural and creative Region with international links, it is well positioned to become a leader and model of sustainability – social, economic, environmental and cultural. Such action would be of significance both regionally and globally. Addressing sustainability is an urgent regional necessity. There are complex and interlinked challenges for the New England including resource depletion, too narrow an economic base, heavy reliance on fossil fuel energy and transport, fragmented networks, groups working in silos and unhealthy competition. At the very same time there are significant opportunities emerging which could benefit the Region if greater leadership is taken on sustainability: including enterprise in renewable energy, regional carbon sequestration and biodiversity banks, and strengthening research, education and professional services with new sustainability knowledge, technology, practices and culture. It is a culture of sustainability that lies at the heart of this great transition towards sustainability for the Region. Building trust in the community, allowing people to have their say and listening to them, bringing the community together are some of the key values and behaviours of this culture of sustainability which can enable the Region to build the required community ownership and take the required responsibility. A high level of community participation, support and ownership has been generated from this first stage of work on NESS. More than 300 people have directly participated in the development process to date – the Public Forum, Working Groups, discussion Blogs – and have come from a wide range of organisations, areas of expertise and interest. New networks and relationships are emerging from this diversity of people working together, forming the scaffolding of this whole of community Strategy. The estimated financial value of the community investment in NESS to date is nearly $150,000 – some six times the value of the modest though important direct cash invested.
1 Throughout this Report the use of bolding indicates a direct quotation from one of the various strategy maps, or 'graffles' as they are known. These strategy maps record the views of participants in the collaborative creation processes used for this first stage of work developing the New England Sustainability Strategy.

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NESS has already catalysed action and initiatives in the Region – the most significant example being the Solar New England Region Project which is well on its way to installing 400 domestic solar power systems and increasing the installed capacity of the Region seven-fold. This Project has delivered training and qualifications in solar power installation, new regional partnerships (land care, finance, training, trades and education) and a substantial amount of paid work for local tradespeople. Numerous other sustainability initiatives are in the development pipeline. These initiatives align with the NESS 'foundations' established from the first stage of work. Within the Foundation Strategy detailed in this Report a key principle of governance and leadership was to take responsible action now while developing NESS. More broadly, the Foundation Strategy identifies the emerging shared vision for the New England to become sustainable, the strategies to achieve this, priority actions and initiatives and performance measures. While this Foundation Strategy reflects substantial progress towards NESS it is a living document and will change with further discussion and input from across the Region to collaboratively complete the strategic plan. NESSiE – the New England Sustainability Strategy Executive – has led and governed this work, becoming a valuable mechanism for sustainability leadership to the Region. NESSiE reflects the diversity of the Region with youth, business, government, environment, social and global experience and expertise. Strategic analysis of sustainability across these areas was led by NESSiE and informed the strategic planning at the Public Forum. The findings of this analysis are detailed later in this Report. Sustainability has risen in profile during the this stage of NESS work. NESS itself has received significant levels of local, region and even international coverage, contributing to community consciousness of the issues and opportunities for the Region. Many other initiatives have arisen at the same time – the evME, Climate Consensus Project and Biodiversity in High Country – demonstrating the very real potential for the New England to continue to build capacity in becoming a model of regional sustainability. With continuing community support and participation, financial investment and shared leadership, the New England Sustainability Strategy can be completed in time for a Regional Stakeholders Forum at the 2009 Sustainable Living Expo 2009, providing a platform for further regional action and sustainability success.

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Purpose for the Strategy
The purpose of the New England Sustainability Strategy (NESS) is to create a whole of community approach to addressing the sustainability of the New England Region (encompassing Armidale, Guyra, Walcha and Uralla local government areas). NESS identifies major strategies to strengthen the sustainability of the Region in a way that also creates the conditions for individual and collective leadership to occur – by everyone who has an interest in the sustainability of the Region be they local or abroad, an individual or a group, a business or professional network, local, state or national government, community or religious organisation. Such collective 'whole of community' leadership and action is central to becoming a sustainable Region given the volume, veracity and velocity of change that sustainability requires. Governance of NESS needs to hold integrity with this whole of community approach – the New England community working independently and collectively together: shared responsibility which is responsibly shared. The emerging strategies for sustainability reflect both priority issues (such as the need for renewable energy and transport) and opportunities which build on Regional interests and strengths (such as integrated land use, research hubs, education, professional services and ecotourism). These strategies both improve the current sustainability of the Region and build the essential capacity for future and further sustainability. NESS provides the basis for regional negotiations with private, government and international bodies which have an interest or stake in regional approaches to sustainability. Sustainability is a global challenge and requires a global solution by aligning individual, local, regional and national responses. The New England Sustainability Strategy reflects this as a regional approach, complimenting local efforts and nested within national and global priorities and opportunities. Opportunities for leadership outside the New England Region will grow as the Region's sustainability capacity grows. NESS will position the New England Region as a place of sustainability leadership and action, able to export sustainability experience and expertise and attract people, business and investment aligned with this pursuit. At all times NESS aims to uniquely identify 'sweet spots of sustainability' – strategies and initiatives which achieve social, environmental and economic benefits at the same time, reflecting the very essence of sustainability in everything it does.

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What is Sustainability?
Wikipedia defines sustainability as meaning that social, economic and environmental systems can be maintained indefinitely into the future. The productivity and limits of the capacity of these systems are key to the quality and growth of the Region's wellbeing (social, material, financial, emotional, spiritual, environmental and so on).

Illustration 1: Sustainability Speedo

Distress

Success

As depicted in the Sustainability Speedo above, exceeding the capacity of these systems is degenerating them, placing our Region in the red, and only possible for a limited time by taking from future generations and depleting the capacity of our systems. Sustainability is depicted as the midpoint on the dial, where the capacity of the Region's social, environmental and economic systems is able to be maintained indefinitely for present and future generations. It is theoretical possible for the New England Region to move beyond the sustainability midpoint – to create systems which thrive and actually increase in capacity. Such excess capacity would increase the quality of life, increase the carrying capacity of the Region (that is, more population, biodiversity and economic activity like a sustainability oasis or refuge) and build the capacity to export (products, services, knowledge, money, etc.) while still maintaining the sustainability of the Region itself. It is not conclusively known where the New England Region currently sits on the Sustainability Speedo, though it is most likely to be degenerative given the Region's high environmental footprint, notwithstanding the Region's sustainability strengths and assets described through this Report, and the fact that the broader Australian and global situation is so gravely in the red

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Background & Process
NESSiE
Armidale Dumaresq Council contracted a consortium of professionals and organisations – the New England Sustainability Strategy Executive, nicknamed NESSiE – to develop the New England Sustainability Strategy for the Region covered by the New England Strategic Alliance of Councils (NESAC). The members of NESSiE and the Terms of Reference for this first stage of work developing NESS are detailed in the Appendix. Initial funding was provided by the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change, Armidale Family Support Services and Armidale Dumaresq Council. A significant amount of inkind support has complimented these resources by a ratio of nearly six : one.
Illustration 2: NESSiE Members at Launch of NESS

Development Process Map

Illustration 3: NESS Development Process

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Research & Analysis
The membership of NESSiE reflects key facets of sustainability and led to the formation of seven specialist Working Parties: Social; Youth; Environment; Economic; Government; Indigenous and Global. Each Working Party analysed the Region's sustainability from their specialised viewpoint and prepared a SWOC (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, challenges) Report. The SWOC Reports included strengths and weaknesses (past and present) together with opportunities and challenges (looking to the future – current and emerging) and analysed key regional data, reports and plans (refer Appendix for listing). The specialised SWOC Reports (included in the Appendix) were provided as a background briefing for delegates attending the Public Forum and made available to the community at large via the DotNESS website. Approximately 130 people and organisations participated in the Working Parties' research and analysis.

Current Sustainability
An overall SWOC analysis of the sustainability of the New England Region was then developed by consolidating all of the seven specialised SWOCs (see Illustration 4) into one. This analysis identified a clear need for the New England Region to act on the importance and urgency of resource depletion, develop a new economy and regional identity which protects and enhances its unique community and natural environment, with a view to becoming an international model of regional solutions such as green design, sustainable housing, regional exports. The unique social and culture of the Region – a multicultural, thinking, engaged and thriving community with a rich cultural life – are significant strengths, however there was a clearly identified need to improve community engagement in planning decisions and address complacency, fragmented networks and competing groups often working in silos.

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Illustration 4: Sustainability Analysis of New England Region

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From an environmental viewpoint the New England is blessed for its abundant sunlight, wind, water, national parks and diverse ecosystems which provide significant resources for sustainable ecotourism, agri-business, research and education. Opportunities are emerging in regional carbon sequestration and biodiversity banks. The current economic base for the Region provides solid capacity for sustainability – particularly education, research, ecotourism, agri-business and professional services – however a shift to a global and export outlook is necessary with solutions to expensive low speed broadband and current challenges with insufficient and unsustainable transport and energy. Building community capacity was identified as a key priority across nearly every facet of sustainability through means such as peer to peer mentoring, involvement in transparent decision making, recognition and rewards for sustainability champions, engagement of youth, social events for sustainability, alumni and business networks and sustainable sister city-region partnerships.

Public Forum
The most significant part of the first stage developing NESS was the Public Forum held at NERAM. This was the final event of the 2008 Sustainable Living Expo. The Public Forum achieved its intended purpose of bringing together a representation of the 'whole of community' to develop the foundations of the Sustainability Strategy, working across areas of expertise, experience and interest by building on existing strengths and forming new networks and ideas. The level of attendance at the Forum was as significant a result as the diversity. With a promoted goal of '101 community leaders and experts' the final attendance figure of 110 delegates surpassed this – a significant indicator of the community interest and support for NESS, particularly since only 5 weeks time was available to promote and organise the Forum. “You managed to get a good cross section of the community, so well done and congratulations... I feel very positive that a lot of good will come from this.”

Forum Delegate

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Delegates reflected the 'whole of community' and included local and national businesses, farmers, local government councillors, local, state and federal bureaucrats, Indigenous leaders, lawyers, town planners, social and community development workers, youth, artists, community leaders, schools, natural resource managers, media, and sustainability professionals. The youngest delegate was 15, the oldest 82 and an African student was the most distant stakeholder.

Illustration 5: Public Forum Process Map

Delegates were provided a background briefing which included the sustainability SWOC Reports. From the outset though the Forum process (Illustration 5) was designed to stimulate new and innovative thinking to analyse and compliment the SWOCs. The Forum commenced with an open space process that identified key sustainability issues and participants then prioritised these issues and self-organised themselves into working groups. While these open space workshops were under way the “Moonstone Group”, chosen through a random-selection process, created a 100-year vision for a sustainable New England Region. “This is about learning from our diverse community, respecting the knowledge, listening with respect and coming together (all cultures) in respect.”

Moonstone Group member

The visioning workshop used a method designed using the ancient wisdom of the world’s oldest surviving continuous culture – Australian Aboriginal – and was art based to draw on the creativity, passion, inspiration, expertise and experience of the group. This innovative

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visioning process enabled the group to truly create the vision together, encompassing their diverse views and aspirations. The afternoon process required all the Forum delegates to work together across their diversity of expertise, organisations, experience, age, culture and interest. Small groups were formed – again through a random selection process – to further analyse the SWOCs, integrate issues which arose during the open space session, and then identify the priorities for action. An additional group was created to focus on the governance and leadership of NESS. The closing session of the Forum brought all of the participants together to present their conclusions – the three priorities for action and their best leading initiative to strengthen the sustainability of the New England Region – which have formed the foundations of the New England Sustainability Strategy. This 'foundation strategy' is detailed later in this Report. A comprehensive record of the Public Forum is stored on DotNESS, including all notes and outcomes from the open space working groups, details of the facilitation process, a photo essay of the day, the documentary, and community comments via discussion blogs. “I thought it was wonderful, the venue, the food, the facilitation.”

Forum Delegate

dotNESS
This Foundation Report forms part of a broader communication approach to include and inform the whole of community about the development of the New England Sustainability Strategy. In the lead up to the Public Forum a wiki-community nicknamed DotNESS (www.ness.wikidot.com) was created as the primary public space for the New England Sustainability Strategy.

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DotNESS uses state of the art digital video, digital photographs, audio recordings and discussion blogs to provide information about the Strategy together with the means for input, discussion and comment from the wider community. The governance working group at the Forum validated the importance of DotNESS in providing a transparent and inclusive way for NESS and NESSiE to be accountable to the many individuals and organisations that have a stake in the sustainability of the Region. Being a wiki-community means that DotNESS is open and available to all stakeholders to add information about their sustainability initiatives, establish links, edit, comment and much more. DotNESS provides the foundation for an online community and knowledge bank which can grow almost without limit to meet the Region's needs in organising efforts for sustainability.

Documentary
A half hour documentary was released to the community following the Forum. The documentary compliments this Foundation Report and provides an innovative and engaging summary of the development of NESS, the Public Forum, the process undertaken and outcomes to date. To truly involve the whole of community in transparent decision making the NESS development process needed to include a range of communication tools and channels and the documentary is a very community friendly way of achieving this. The documentary was filmed by students from the local TAFE multimedia course providing valuable paid technical experience at the same time as contributing to the NESS development. The documentary can be viewed on DotNESS at http://ness.wikidot.com/forum-video.

Media & Communications
A comprehensive social marketing and promotion campaign accompanied the development of NESS from the beginning. The key messages have been raising awareness of the importance and value of sustainability for the New England Region and informing and inviting the whole of community to become involved in the development of NESS.

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Media releases have been issued at all key milestones and a substantial amount of media coverage was achieved through local and regional papers, television and radio. Several international websites also covered NESS including the Alliance for a New Humanity (www.anh.org.au). A range of professional and personal networks were provided regular updates, gravitating outwards from NESSiE and NESAC networks and over time including other networks such as the Talloires Declaration Committee, Sustainable Living Armidale and The Sustainability Shift. An eList with over 230 members has received regular updates, keeping interested persons informed and involved. The eList is continuing to grow with each new stage of NESS work, particularly the initiatives now in action such as the Solar New England Region Project. This group is also very diverse and reflective of the whole of community, with people from the New England Region, elsewhere in Australia and overseas.

Documenting the Process
From the outset the process being undertaken to develop NESS has been recorded and documented to form a regional model for sustainability that has international significance. The key components of this documentation to date include DotNESS, the documentary and this Foundation Report. There is a wider range of other material – including media releases, briefings for Working Groups and a photo essay of the Forum – also stored on DotNESS The documentation of the process provides a base of information and knowledge for the purpose of evaluating outcomes and informing future NESS development – an example of which is this Foundation Report.

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“Foundation Strategy”
Detailed below are the 'foundations' of the New England Sustainability Strategy, reflecting the outcomes from this first stage of development work. Further work is required to complete the creation of the Strategy and the necessary steps are detailed later in this Report. The finalisation of NESS will integrate the “Foundation Strategy” that is detailed below. Further community workshops are required to build on this work and enable greater participation from across the region and 'whole of community'. In this light the Foundation Strategy reflects the vision, strategies, priorities and issues that have emerged from the first stage of NESS development work.

Vision

Illustration 6: One Hundred Year Vision

“I hope my great, great, great grandchildren will meet only people who walk the talk, that if someone says they believe something, the children see them live it.”

Moonstone Group member

It is the year 2109 and the New England Region's natural systems have been regenerated and healed, where every species has its own world, frogs and birds living in harmony within a thriving new City-Region in the high country. Water is the sacred connector of everything There is a deep sense of trust in the community, in part established through a culture of making decisions in ways that allow the community to reflect, consider and test new ideas with

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ethical decisions the norm. The respect and listening created allows people to have their say, bringing the community together to take ownership and responsibility for sustainability. “Our region in 100 years is an interconnected community through natural vegetation, man built, technological, cultural and productive pathways. The region will be invigorating to visit and will be leading by example in our land management and self sufficiency. Our natural and community resources will be better than ever and the journey to sustainability will be well under way.”

Moonstone Group member

While the natural systems of the Region are renewed so too the infrastructure has been retrofitted and redesigned by becoming conscious of the interconnections of everything. Renewable new energy is drawn from the sun, wind and rain, powering retrofitted homes, buildings and workplaces. The region is totally renewably powered. So too there is a new regional transport system that connects people and products. “Dense mini-city populations surround by food-producing woodlands. Every family apartment-home has a spectacular view, nature on their balconies and close access to the surrounding natural environment.”

Moonstone Group member

The economy reflects the strong the culture of sustainability, working with natural and human cycles, where nothing is wasted and what we have is protected. This resourcefulness extends beyond material world and includes no wasting of people, time, brain power or knowledge. “I decided that when combined in the following way, they could become a key philosophy that our community adopted in 100 years time: 'Learning, love and respect for the nature of all things'.”

Moonstone Group member

This spirit of learning and patience has built a community that walks the talk on sustainability and has become a thriving, modern city-region for generations to come.

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Illustration 7: One Hundred Year Vision

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Strategies for Sustainability
Five strategies (Illustration 9) have begun emerging from the first stage of NESS' development as central to making real this one hundred year vision of a sustainable New England Region. The strategies seek to address the issues and meet challenges facing the Region as identified in the Public Forum and sustainability SWOCs, as well as act on opportunities – both current and emerging.

Regional Regeneration
While each of the five NESS strategies is important and complimentary, the Regional Regeneration has been strongly identified flagging its significance for the New England Region. The Regional Regeneration Strategy builds on strong existing capacity and a demonstrated track record in integrated land management, wildlife corridors, habitat and riparian regeneration with realistic potential for the Region to be climate and carbon neutral. A large scale region-wide regeneration strategy will deliver social, environmental and
Illustration 8: Engineered Woodland (SNELCC)

economic value by increasing the land fertility and productivity (such as for agri-business, research, outdoor education) and landscape values (such as for ecotourism and quality of life), plus clear benefits for biodiversity. Achieving this requires a significant increase of the Region's existing capacity through innovative financing models such as carbon trading and bio banking. The recent success of the Biodiversity in High Country grant demonstrates the potential for significant financial resources being made available for strategic region-wide regeneration work involving consortia of networks and organisations from the whole community.

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Illustration 9: Foundation Strategies

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Regeneration of the region will provide significant advantages in facing challenges such as Climate Change with a key outcome being a much more resilient and adaptable farmland and landscape.

Building on Strengths & Assets
The fact that the New England Region has a significant starting position to becoming sustainable has been a strong theme throughout this first stage of NESS work. Similarly, it is key that this strategy ensures the Region does not unintentionally 'reinvent wheels'. Knowing about and building upon these existing sustainability strengths and assets is a relatively easier strategy for it largely requires mapping what already exists and what is already happening. This mapping creates the opportunity to strategically generate more outcomes in itself, as well as scope to expand that capacity. Relevant actions include a regional sustainability communication strategy, professional networks and developing a regional brand for sustainability. The DotNESS wiki-community is ideally suited to become a portal to regional sustainability: a living library of information, networks, skills and stories. The Building on Strengths & Assets Strategy recognises the New England is already home to world class agri-business, with relatively high levels of sustainable business and culture such as cultural tourism, the Sustainable Living Expo, ecotourism (including wineries), research and education. Future development of this baseline of capacity could include regional farmers markets and festivals, affordable environmentally sustainable housing, and services for ageing populations. An essential aspect of NESS and this specific strategy is quantifying baseline data for the Region's environmental and carbon footprints to demonstrate measurable change and progress

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towards being a sustainable region. The mapping, measurement and implementation of the Strengths & Assets Strategy fits within the overall vision for the New England to become a model sustainable region – including the journey and transition process – and forming partnerships with similarly aligned sister city/regions.

Culture of Sustainability

Illustration 10: The Armidale Waldorf School

It is the social and cultural dimensions of sustainability which most strongly emerge in the one hundred year vision for the New England Region. This Strategy encompasses creative industries a sustainable economic base through to developing leadership networks of sustainability shifters and champions, though at the deepest level the strategy is about nurturing the values and beliefs which have integrity sustainability. Increasing the involvement of the community in decision making processes was especially identified as key to this goal. Such “participatory decision making” is highly strategic increasing trust, safety and social capital in the community while also improving ownership of decisions and building sustainability knowledge and experience at the very same time. Actions for youth include utilisation of web-based networks (such as Facebook), festivals, awards for environmental leadership and mentoring/training. These youth-specific initiatives highlight the need for further consideration of ways to involve and engage with the full diversity of social and cultural groups within the region to identify meaningful strategies and actions for them to progress sustainability.

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New Energy
Creating a new energy future is arguably the most challenging of the technical shifts required for the New England to become a sustainable region: transport and energy were priority challenges identified in several of the SWOC analyses. The New Energy Strategy has three core dimensions: the shift to renewable energies and fuels; greatly increasing the efficiency with which energy is used; and reduced energy dependence by reconsidering decisions which have energy footprints, determining whether or not they are required in the first instance. Measurement of the Region's energy footprint, and its transition to sustainability, is a strategic initiative in itself since to date so much of our energy use is not measured, or at least not measured meaningfully. The Solar New England Region Project, which is the first major NESS initiative, includes energy audits and web-integrated metering to provide home owners with useful information about their energy usage (and generation) patterns to help them be more efficient, reconsider their usage/demand and be able to observe their shift to sustainable renewable sources. Energy areas for research and action include community owned renewable power, trigeneration systems (such as for the hospital), strengthened mass transport systems, combined heat and power units, going beyond BASIX and diversifying our regional energy platform with wind, solar, gas, biomass and geothermal. The development of expertise and experience in these new energies has real potential to provide the basis for the formation of new regional and export industry and expertise.

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A Dozen Roses Bloom
New ideas, new technologies, new culture, more creativity and innovation make up the vision of a sustainable New England coming into being over the next century. Seeding these new initiatives and valuing experimentation is what the Dozen Roses Bloom Strategy is designed to do. Right now there are numerous sustainability initiatives emerging and this Strategy would help provide the resources and support to give them the best chance of thriving. A Dozen Roses Bloom builds on similar well proven strategies such as microphilanthropy, micro-finance and social
Illustration 11: evME Launch, Armidale

innovation.

Initiatives identified that could qualify for immediate support included the walking school bus, farmers markets, local food festival, evME, eco-burials, Transition Armidale, a Green Business Cluster and reformation of the New England ENGO coalition.

Priorities & Initiatives
Each Working Group at the Public Forum identified the priority issues and initiatives for action to achieve the 100 year vision. These priorities and initiatives form the foundation of the action plan for NESS (Illustration 12). From a social and cultural viewpoint the priorities are about genuine community involvement and engagement to build trust, safety, skills, strengths, connections and capacity – the underpinnings of a culture of sustainability. Practical actions include sister cities, youth mentoring, a youth festival, scholarships, awards, mapping cultural identity and diversity and supporting the community in ways that reinforce sustainable social norms. There is a significant opportunity for the New England Region to build its economic base through regenerative ecosystems management and set up showcases of regenerative regional sustainability, including adding sustainability value to existing knowledge based industry, agribusiness and infrastructure: in essence, greening business.

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Illustration 12: Priorities and Initiatives

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Carbon trading, biodiversity trading, a NESAC Climate Change Charter and new local policy structure would support these goals. While the regenerative initiatives will generate greater ecological and economic outcomes from existing systems, there remains a further priority need to diversify the regional economic base with new enterprises as well.

Performance Indicators
Charting the New England Region's shift towards sustainability requires observable and measurable indicators of progress and performance. These indicators enable evaluation of progress and success to both evidence outcomes and inform future planning and reviews. The emerging range of performance indicators include measures of both sustainability activity and sustainability capacity – outputs and outcomes. Many indicators are in effect both. NESS, the Climate Change Consensus Project and the Climate Change Risk Assessment are opening up dialogue, increasing community understanding of sustainability and providing the foundations for a culture of sustainability. Visionary leaders can inspire a new sustainable regional identity to attract tree changers and sustainability shifters to an idyllic city-region landscape, with affordable housing, beautiful natural spaces and modern facilities generated with renewable energies and materials, governed by healthy community engagement in decision making. Such innovation can spur new high growth export business tapping into the sustainable economy, complimenting further breakthroughs in integrated agri-business and diverse land use such as tourism, led by UNE's world class position on regional sustainability, education and research. Growth in the quality of life and economic productivity need to be matched by the thriving regional ecosystem with species diversity increases, healthy soils and water systems. Best practice resource-waste systems ensure modern life has a low environmental footprint. A culture of sustainable success must be brought forth.

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Illustration 13: Performance Indicators

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Emerging Principles
There were principles reflected in the first stage of NESS work which were influenced by the Executive (NESSiE) leading the process. Over time these principles have been refined and shaped by involvement of the wider community – such as the Working Groups and the Public Forum – and influenced by experience of what works from practical initiatives being implemented – such as the Solar New England Region Project.

Principle
Involvement and Leadership

Behaviours
England Region community – everyone who has an interest in the sustainability of the Region be they local or abroad, an individual or a group, a business or professional network, local, state or national government, community or religious organisation. NESS works to create the conditions for individual and collective leadership to occur. Such collective 'whole of community' leadership and action is necessary for the New England becoming a sustainable Region given the massive volume, veracity and velocity of change that sustainability requires. The governance of NESS will have integrity with this principle – the New England community working independently and collectively together: shared responsibility which is responsibly shared.

Whole of Community NESS and its initiatives are collaboratively created by the whole of the New

Regional and Global NESS will align its regional focus to compliment local efforts and fit within national and global priorities and opportunities which are necessary to address sustainability: the New England Region can only become sustainable within a world at large that is similarly sustainable due to the inherent inter-dependence of social, environmental and economic systems. NESS will simultaneously contribute to both the national-global pursuit of sustainability with its regional work, an in so doing build the required relationships, partnerships, knowledge and experience to address sustainability.

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Principle
Sweet Spots of Sustainability

Behaviours
NESS itself will be sustainable to have integrity with its purpose of the New England Region becoming sustainable. This means that both NESS itself and all NESS initiatives must demonstrate as a minimum economic self sufficiency, environmental neutrality and clear social benefits. Both the Solar New England Region Project and the Biodiversity in High Country initiatives have embodied this principle in practical ways.

Capacity Building

NESS will provide and enhance experiences, skills, knowledge, technology, tools, infrastructure, financial and other resources that build the capacity of the Region to be sustainable. NESS itself will be collaboratively created by the whole of the community and so embody the principle of capacity building. NESS will work in partnership with existing and new organisations whenever possible.

Accountability

NESS will be transparent and accountable to the whole of community with an interest in the sustainability of the New England Region. This will include independent handling of financial matters and the use of DotNESS as the living library for all NESS information, developments, initiatives, evaluations and reports.

Leadership & Governance
Discussions at the Public Forum identified two structures being required for NESS leadership and governance: 1. A current leadership and governance structure to apply throughout the period that NESS is being developed; and, 2. A long term leadership and governance structure to come into effect once the NESS development is complete and implementation of the completed Strategy begins. Three priority actions were agreed to handle the current leadership and governance requirements: 1. Public display of all NESS information through use of a Creative Commons Open Source online knowledge bank. DotNESS has already been created to satisfy this

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requirement. 2. Establishment of the New England Sustainability Foundation. The Foundation will support regional sustainability initiatives, including though not limited to NESS, and ensure independent and transparent handling of all monetary arrangements. Negotiations are under way to establish the Foundation and independent banking and auditing arrangements have been made for the Solar New England Region Project. 3. Ensure transparency of the NESSiE membership and transparent processes around any change in the membership of NESSiE, especially through use of DotNESS. In considering the successful ingredients of past regional strategies NESS should work on short term initiatives as well as long term strategies to build confidence and practical experience, make advantage of immediate opportunities and celebrate and share successes and outcomes. This principle has informed NESSiE commencing its first major initiative – the Solar New England Region Project – and entering into development discussions on several other initiatives which align with the directions and priorities of the Foundation Strategy.

Lessons from Past & Present Regional Strategies
One of the Open Space sessions at the Public Forum worked on lessons from current and past regional strategies with a view to inform the leadership and governance principles for NESS. There were varying views regarding whether NESS needed to become a new entity in its own right or not. There was, however, consensus that NESS must build on the wide range of sustainability initiatives already happening in the Region (which is especially reflected by the Building on Strengths & Assets and A Dozen Roses Bloom Strategies). It was also recognised that NESS work to ensure leadership for sustainability is shared. This lends itself to partnership models of governance such as Memorandums of Understanding with key organisations regarding common ground and objectives for sustainability.

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Should it become clear that a new legal entity is best suited to fulfil NESS' purpose it is important that it reflects the whole of community diversity for the Region, is accountable to these stakeholders, and has the independence to fulfil its purpose with integrity. Pitfalls identified from past regional strategies included:

Organisation and Agency representative governance models creating problems with self interest and conflicting interests

• •

Poor engagement and involvement of community (especially Aboriginal, youth, elderly) Financial reliance or over-reliance from one source, funding from sources tied to policy (which then changes), or not enough funding or time in funding arrangements to achieve outcomes

Focussing only on policy. NESS needs a broad strategy of practical action, collaboration as well as advocacy

Weak planning and plans being too broad to enable practical strategic decisions and implementation, creating expectations that can't be fulfilled or an over reliance on external people and resources to implement them

Stakeholders identified but not committed (or accountable) so when policies/staff change so do priorities and plans

KPIs aren't aligned with key stakeholders needs and goals

NESSiE
NESS is more like a social enterprise network than an organisation. The leadership and governance of NESS must have integrity with this principle and the whole of community approach. A broad membership of NESSiE (the New England Sustainability Strategy Executive) is essential, enabling active involvement of the full regional community diversity in the development of NESS and in any NESS initiatives. This diversity is geographic (eg. towns, villages, rural), cultural (eg. Aboriginal, Indonesian, Anglo), economic (eg. business, employed, retired, unemployed), social (eg. Youth, students, families, aged), and more. NESSiE needs to be accountable and dependable, prompting the need to consider appropriate remuneration for the required investment of expertise and assumption of responsibilities.

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A central secretariat is key for NESS and the functioning of NESSiE. While broad ownership and involvement is a key principle to achieve regional sustainability, this central secretariat provides critical support in coordinating initiatives and maintain linkages with the broader networks involved. The emerging role for NESSiE is: 1. Upholding the vision of a sustainable New England Region – with the community, regional networks, agencies, organisations and other stakeholders – and ensure the integrity of NESS initiatives and progress; 2. Providing a place and mechanism for exchanging strategic information about the Region's sustainability and sustainability initiatives; 3. Continuing to enable the means for dialogue with the whole of community to ensure ownership, inclusion and catalysing action; 4. Being a network for sustainability expertise and knowledge about what is working, where, how and why; and, 5. Establishing and developing a brand for sustainability initiatives and creating the environment for other regional bodies to remain focussed on their role and responsibility within a broad coalition of leadership for sustainability.

NESSo
There is considerable belief in the value of creating a physical space – the New England Sustainability Strategy Office (NESSo) – as part of the leadership and governance structure for NESS. NESSo would provide a dependable point of contact and access for the community wanting to be informed, to influence and to participate in sustainability. This physical space would necessarily embody the same principles of NESS itself, performing the function of a portal to link the community with all major relevant sustainability work for the Region. In this respect NESSo is more like a bureau, with information and links to everything sustainable in the New England, including NESS, rather than be an office for NESS alone. NESSo could be a best practice model of socially inclusive and sustainable design and a facility for sustainability shifters to network, learn, meet and socialise.

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Funding & Resources
From a financial point of view the long term success of NESS requires a diversified and independent financial and resource base. This would ideally be a portfolio including:
• • • • •

Fee for service work, social enterprises and sponsorships Membership, donations and fundraising Grants for projects (corporate, government, philanthropic) Program funding (government) Funding partnerships

In-kind resources will likely be a more significant resource base for NESS than cash, though cash resources are essential to effectively coordinate in-kind support. NESS funding to date already reflects this strategic approach:

The initial funding for NESS was a combination of government grant (NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change), sponsorship (Armidale Dumeresq Council), partnership funding (with Armidale Family Support Services) and fee for service (delegates at the Public Forum). The value of in-kind support for the first stage of NESS development has been nearly six times the cash funding (refer to the Financial Report in the Appendix).

The first major NESS initiative is the Solar New England Region Project. The Project is primarily a social enterprise with funding through the purchase of discounted solar systems by householders. Project Partners are paid for services only and 1% of Project income is being donated to the New England Sustainability Foundation. Grant and partnership funding has also been received for training, with in-kind support for the marketing and promotion of the Project. Independent finances are being maintained for audit.

There is a strategic marketing concept emerging for the New England Sustainability Foundation around the idea of encouraging 1% contributions. For example, Onkaparinga Council in South Australia recently approved 1% of their ratepayer income would be set aside for sustainability (and they are now investigating a community owned renewable power company). Locally, the New England Credit Union has a Community Partnership Account where 1% of member balances are donated to a nominate charity of the members' choosing. New England residents might similarly chose to donate 1% of their taxable income to this purpose when they do their tax return.

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The underlying principle of the 1% Foundation is building a culture of sustainability by investing 1/100th of our resources towards the Region's regeneration and sustainability.

Sustainability in Action
The sustainability of the New England Region relies on strategic action, change and ultimately the successful implementation of NESS. Detailed below are NESS initiatives which have already been implemented as part of the stage one development work and evidence the significant level of community ownership, support and interest in sustainability and NESS. These NESS initiatives are contributing to the Region's sustainability, are demonstrating the value of NESS itself for the Region and have helped maintain a high public awareness of these issues.

Solar New England Region Project

The first major NESS initiative is the Solar New England Region Project (SNERPy), part of the New Energy and Culture of Sustainability Strategies. SNERPy is a highly affordable large scale 'community cluster' installation of domestic solar power systems. The project goal of 400 systems will increase seven-fold the number of grid connected solar power systems and replace nearly 1% of the domestic power usage with renewable solar energy. The combined benefit of clustering and government incentives is a system price for the community less than half the previously existing retail price. From an economic and social viewpoint SNERPy has a budget of $6m, generating a significant amount of work for local tradespeople to install the systems. Training was delivered in partnership with TAFE New England Institute and two electricians have received qualifications and a further eight tradespeople are able as installation labourers under supervision. One of many unexpected developments was the launch of a Solar Loan by the New England Credit Union. This product is available for any solar system purchase, SNERPy or any other, and is a meaningful new facility for the sustainability capacity of the Region. SNERPy is also creating a culture around solar power, renewable energy and sustainability. Each

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customer receives an energy meter and audit which will enable them to see and manage their immediate energy production and usage for probably the first time ever. More broadly, the profile of solar power and renewable energy has profoundly increased in the Region. At least two other community pricing packages have been launched, and solar providers from nearby areas have begun advertising campaigns to try and catch this wave of change.

NEDDS
The community consultation process for the New England Draft Development Strategy (NEDDS) coincided with this first stage of NESS development. A submission was made to NEDDS drawing on the key issues emerging from NESS that were relevant to local environmental planning. The Environmental Defenders Office provided pro-bono advice to NESSiE for the submission. Recommendations were made to strengthen the sustainability credentials of NEDDS through better integration of biodiversity and heritage maps into planning and clearer implementation of ecological sustainable development principles. It would be ideal if NEDDS could include a regional forum for specialists in sustainability and climate change to inform this critical long-term planning from a region-wide perspective (since the NEDDS community consultations were focused on individual local government areas only).

DotNESS
The DotNESS wiki-community was developed by Evolveris, NESSiE, Peaceworks, Social Ventures Media and Paradigm Play. It was launched just prior to the Public Forum. DotNESS fulfils a key governance role for NESS in providing public access to information about sustainability and NESS itself. Over time DotNESS has potential to build a virtual sustainability network for the region to come together and participate in consultation, discussion, knowledge sharing and action. Being an open source and creative commons website means that DotNESS also gives the whole community itself the ability to publish information, self-organise knowledge and learn about sustainability.

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Biodiversity in High Country
While technically the Biodiversity in High Country project precedes the existence of NESS, it was created by a common network of professionals and organisations along similar lines and principles as NESS itself. The Biodiversity in High Country project will significantly progress the Regional Regeneration Strategy, contribute to the New England Sustainability
Illustration 14: $2m Biodiversity in High Country grant

Foundation and build community capacity through hands on regeneration work. With common networks involved and principles applied, Biodiversity in High Country evidences the very real potential and value of NESS to the sustainability of the New England Region.

Further Developments
A range of other sustainability initiatives are under development with NESS involvement. These include:

A zero waste facility to handle reuse and recycling of building and construction materials such as glass, timber and bricks.

• • • •

Work with two possible 'first' sustainable sister city-regions. Establishment of the New England Sustainability Foundation. Negotiations for the New England Region to become climate neutral. Facilitation of a Business Series of strategy workshops to strengthen the business and economic input into NESS' development.

• • •

Development of an Economic Transition Plan for the Region. Establishing a regional carbon offset scheme. Production of a media series of stories showcasing the range of sustainability initiatives under way in the New England.

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Next Steps
Completing the New England Sustainability Strategy requires a regional engagement to refine the Foundation Strategy through a collaborative design process that emphasizes the need for building adaptive capacity, catalysing a sustainable Region, environmental systems and enterprise. This engagement will be especially targeted to sections of the region not yet included – towns, villages, cultures and other community segments. Initiatives already under way will continue, and the Stage Two approach will likely continue to generate practical sustainability initiatives and support the continued high community profile of sustainability issues across the Region. The NESS eList of 230 people will receive regular updates, media releases will inform the community at large and DotNESS will continue to transparently store and record NESS information with the means for community comment and contributions.

Illustration 15: Stage One Collaborative Design Process

The Stage Two Process (Illustrations 16 & 17) is based on action research principles of collaborative sustainability planning approaches for regions and enterprises as complex systems, emphasising collaborative learning, collaborative design, local solutions and strategic partnerships to improve the wellbeing of the Region's various social, economic and eco-systems, the liveability and attractiveness of cities, towns and villages. At the same time however it is essential that each place and community is supported to discover its own process and actions. Requests have already been received to progress NESS in this way – the community of Bundarra, the Indonesian friendship network and the United Nations Environment Program wish to formally engage and participate in Stage Two.

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Illustration 16: Stage Two NESS Process, p1

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Illustration 17: Stage Two NESS Process, p2

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SLEx '09 provides the ideal platform to present a penultimate NESS draft to a Regional Stakeholders Forum, to finalise the development work and then workshop implementation, resourcing, measurement and governance plans. The release and presentation of this Foundation Report will provide a further opportunity for community engagement. A blog will be set up on DotNESS to enable public contributions and comment. Formal endorsement of the Foundation Report will be sought from community leaders and organisations. NESAC's continued support is especially key to the successful completion of NESS, and to continue to establish clear distinctions between the responsibilities for leadership and action across the whole of the community. An opportunity to present and discuss the Report and next steps with NESAC will be made.

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Appendices
Financial Supporters
NESSiE acknowledges the valuable financial support provided by the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (Major Sponsor), Armidale Dumaresq Council and Armidale Family Support Services. Their financial support made possible the foundation work on the New England Sustainability Strategy.

Major Sponsor: The NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change

Armidale Family Support Services

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About NESSiE
The following professionals and organisations were members of NESSiE (the New England Sustainability Strategy Executive) and led the first stage of work to develop NESS.

Armidale Family Support Services

ParadigmPlay
The consortium drew on a diversity of expertise that has been valuable and essential to NESS and the engagement of the whole of community. The key roles performed were:

Convenor: Paradigm Play – Adam Blakester

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Facilitators:
• •

Public Forum: Creative Edge Facilitators – Kenneth McLeod Vision Workshop: Tuckandee Training – Tex Skuthorpe and Anne Morrill

Documentation Team: Evolveris – Michael O'Loughlin, Lindsay Teychenne, Lazlo Szabo, John Flower-Emblen, Brylan Stewart, David Doyle, Adam Cafarella

• •

Global Working Group: Dr Rebecca Spence (Peaceworks) Social Working Group: Zoe Miller, Manager Armidale Family Support and Chair, New England Family Interagency Group

Government Working Group: Maureen Chapman, NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet

Economic Working Group: Peter Sniekers, NSW Department of State and Regional Development

Youth Working Group: Kathryn Brooks, Lucy Mentoring Program participant and University of New England final year student

Environmental Working Group: Jackie Bowe and Sonia Williams, Southern New England Landcare

Indigenous Working Group: Steve Widders, Armidale Dumaresq Council

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Terms of Reference
The minimum outcomes for the first stage of the NESS development were as required by the Terms of Reference, namely: 1. Development of a plan for the creation of the New England Community Sustainability Strategy; 2. Organise and facilitate a series of open workshops and processes, including a Community Sustainability Forum during the 2008 Sustainable Living Expo, to provide opportunities for community comment and input; 3. Create a Sustainability Scorecard for the New England Region identifying future opportunities and challenges as well as current/past strengths and weaknesses; 4. Establish working parties and links with key organisations and networks across the New England Region; 5. Undertake a broad media and communication strategy to disseminate key messages and outcomes as well as promote opportunities for involvement; and, 6. Document the entire process as a model for other regional communities to use and benefit from. Each of these outcomes has been successfully achieved, and considerably greater progress and outcomes have been made.

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Financial Report
The outcomes achieve and work done for the first stage of NESS development reflects a total community investment of $145.6k. This comprised cash income of $25,100 and $120.5k from inkind support, discounts and donated time – a multiplier of 580% (nearly six times). Independent financial records are being maintained for the $6m Solar New England Region Project.

Illustration 18: Finance Report: First Stage Work

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SWOC Reports Youth

Illustration 19: Youth SWOC

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Social

Illustration 20: Social SWOC

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Environment

Illustration 21: Environment SWOC

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Illustration 22: Talloires/UNE SWOC

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Economic

Illustration 23: Economic SWOC

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Government (Armidale Dumaresq Council)

Illustration 24: Armidale Dumaresq Council SWOC

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Global

Illustration 25: Global SWOC

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First Stage Research Undertaken
Each Working Group undertook a combination of group and one on one interviews to complete their sustainability SWOC analysis. The Youth Working Group also undertook workshops as part of EdFest during the Sustainable Living Expo '08. The following documents were also researched as part of the SWOC analysis:
• • • • • • • • •

Southern New England Tablelands Region State of Environment Report (2004-2005) Northern Rivers Catchment Action Plan SNELCC’s Regional Landcare Action Plan Armidale Dumaresq Council SWOT Records from International Students Centre This Armidale Life Zonta International newsletter Talloires Sustainable UNE student competition 2008 Youth Speak Forum

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Illustration Index

Illustration Index
Illustration 1: Sustainability Speedo.........................................................................................6 Illustration 2: NESSiE Members at Launch of NESS...............................................................7 Illustration 3: NESS Development Process..............................................................................7 Illustration 4: Sustainability Analysis of New England Region...............................................9 Illustration 5: Public Forum Process Map...............................................................................11 Illustration 6: One Hundred Year Vision................................................................................15 Illustration 7: One Hundred Year Vision................................................................................17 Illustration 8: Engineered Woodland (SNELCC)...................................................................18 Illustration 9: Foundation Strategies......................................................................................19 Illustration 10: The Armidale Waldorf School........................................................................21 Illustration 11: evME Launch, Armidale.................................................................................23 Illustration 12: Priorities and Initiatives................................................................................24 Illustration 13: Performance Indicators.................................................................................26 Illustration 14: $2m Baby Funding Success...........................................................................35 Illustration 15: Stage One Collaborative Design Process.......................................................36 Illustration 16: Stage Two NESS Process, p1..........................................................................37 Illustration 17: Stage Two NESS Process, p2.........................................................................38 Illustration 18: Finance Report: First Stage Work.................................................................43 Illustration 19: Youth SWOC...................................................................................................44 Illustration 20: Social SWOC..................................................................................................45 Illustration 21: Environment SWOC.......................................................................................46 Illustration 22: Talloires/UNE SWOC....................................................................................47 Illustration 23: Economic SWOC...........................................................................................48 Illustration 24: Armidale Dumaresq Council SWOC.............................................................49 Illustration 25: Global SWOC.................................................................................................50

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