• Matthew - CASSE NSW

Summary of Results from Workshops - Dialogue Day !

Workshop Results - “Dialogue for A Sustainable Economy

held at Sydney Mechanics School of Arts on Dec 2019 , Theme’ – "How do we change worldview and ethics?" (Chair - Haydn Washington)

  • Encourage greater dialogue

  • Champion a sense of wonder, place and the sacred

  • Engage farmers with nature through Landcare

  • Educate children less than 12 years old by running activities in wild nature

  • Re education, change the curriculum so that it considers ethics and wonder towards nature, ecological economics, civics and culture philosophy

  • Greener, better-designed cities

  • Use of the arts and creativity

  • Encourage what in NW Australia Aborigines call ‘Dadirri’ – contemplation of place. Also encourage kinship ethics

  • Encourage rituals such as Rites of Passage, Yatras and Deep Ecology Workshops (e.g. Council of All Beings)

  • Teach science in a holistic way

  • Encourage ecojustice for nature and Earth jurisprudence that includes the rights of nature in legislation

  • Greater engagement with Indigenous Australians and their Law that protects nature

  • Promote custodianship rather than ‘ownership’ philosophically

Workshop results ‘Dialogue for a Sustainable Economy’ – Solutions for sustainability and equity

(Chair - Frank Stillwell)

  1. Grass-roots initiatives

  • Cooperatives

  • Community-building

  • Creating ‘cultural change’

  • No more ‘quiet Australian’ rhetoric please!

  1. Investment in technology using renewable resources

  • Challenge the claim that ‘we cannot afford it’

C. Progressive policies of a more top-down character to be struggled for

  • Green New Deal

  • Universal Basic Income

Workshop results on ‘How to achieve an economy that supports an ecologically sustainable planet’ (Chair - Mark Diesendorf).This workshop discussed visions of an ecologically sustainable planet, barriers to the transition, and possible solutions for overcoming these barriers.


A common broad vision or narrative of an ecologically sustainable, socially just society is needed. This vision must recognise that we humans are totally dependent upon natural systems for our survival: for the air that we breathe; for the food that we eat; for the climate in which we live. It must recognise that we live on a finite planet. It must give first priority to ecological sustainability, second priority to establishing a society that’s compatible with an ecologically sustainable planet and is socially just, and third priority to establishing an economy that’s part of the sustainable society.

Unfortunately, industrial society has established its priorities in reverse order, a recipe for ecological and social collapse.


The workshop recognised formidable barriers to transitioning to an ecologically sustainable planet:

  • Political barriers result from the existing power structure that’s dominated by large corporations, including mining, agriculture, finance, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals.

  • The existing neoliberal economic system that treats the natural environment as a resource and a waste dump, and exploits the majority of people.

  • The lack of a common environmental ethic and narrative.

  • The lack of a common social purpose and narrative.


To cure the unsustainable situation, education at all levels – schools, higher education and the community at large – was recommended. While ecology and other branches of science for the people and the planet is vital, education must be multi-disciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary. It must include ethics. However, in the face of the political and economic system barriers, education is not sufficient.

It was argued that the political power of large corporations must be limited by banning political donations and having publicly funded elections; by stopping the ‘rotating door’ in jobs for politicians and political advisers in industry and vice versa; by establishing a federal integrity commission with strong powers; by reducing Ministerial influence on awarding grants and contracts; by reviewing the Corporations Act and constraining the legal powers of corporations; by limiting the terms of office of parliamentarians to two terms.

New institutions are needed, such as a Climate Change Commission.

Among the specific issues discussed was the view that an ecologically sustainable society would be decentralised, with local food growing and local sustainable energy. However, a contrary view was that this could result in environmental impacts over a much greater land area than concentrating people in cities while protecting much of the surrounding land in national parks and nature reserves. A possible compromise was the suggestion that cities can be restructured into subcentres, local centres and precincts, reducing transport and supplying solar energy from rooftops at household and precinct scales.

There was insufficient time to discuss strategies for reforming the economic system, apart from replacing GDP with GPI.

Summary by Mark Diesendorf, January 2020.


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