Otago Polytech researcher to speak at sustainability Forum
Otago Polytechnic researcher to speak at leading sustainability forum
Otago Polytechnic’s Sustainable Practice Advisor and Research Manager, Ella Lawton, has been selected to be one of three guest speakers at the Sustainable Carrying Capacity of New Zealand forum this Friday the 15th in Wellington.
Ella was one of more than 50 applicants to put her research forward to be presented, and says she was “blown away” by the invitation to discuss her main research project, the New Zealand Footprint Project.
“It’s the first time I’ve been asked to give a presentation of this scale and I’m excited to share how important this research is to New Zealand,” says Ella.
The forum, coordinated by the Royal Society of New Zealand, will explore recent research in New Zealand and abroad that provides a perspective on the links between the economy and the environment. This will include what research tells us about the links between wellbeing, wealth, environmental impact, and consider factors such as freshwater quality, land use, losses of biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, and imports of transport fuels.
For the past three years, Ella has worked in collaboration with Victoria University of Wellington and the Auckland Council on the Footprint Project. Together, they’ve worked with five different communities and three local governments around New Zealand, examining aspects such as lifestyle choice, income, housing arrangements and food intake to determine their ecological footprint.
“In New Zealand, 57 per cent of our ecological footprint is in food and beverages. A lot of land goes into producing these and my research looks at the availability of our land, and the environment’s ability to produce the goods and services that New Zealanders consume.
“One of my research conclusions is that although we want to increase our health and wellbeing, we’re doing it using too many resources. It’s a matter of finding a way to still have our wellbeing and quality of life, but by using less stuff and making better decisions around these environmental and societal challenges.”
Localisation will be one of Ella’s key talking points at the forum. “This model is essential in reducing our individual and collective New Zealand ecological footprint. For example, using our backyard and parks to grow food which in turn, reduces the use of commercial land, transport, packaging, and the need for retail outlets,” she explains.
“This creates better social networks, opens up the land for alternative and more effective opportunities and reduces our need to rely on imports. I truly believe this is progressive.”
For information about the
forum, visit http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/expert-advice/information-papers/yr2013/the-sustainable-carrying-capacity-of-new-zealand/