By Mary O’Callaghan

The Managing Climate Variability (MCV) Climate Champion program was named a finalist in the 2014 Banksia Sustainability Awards, held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, on 11 November.

To be eligible, “your initiative must have recent significance, with results shown over the last two years. The initiative must be primarily undertaken in Australia, or must be shown to have a substantial environmental impact in Australia.”

The MCV Climate Champion program was a finalist in the “Leadership in Citizenship and Communities” category which “recognises a group or individual that has demonstrated strong local capacity building and implementation of locally relevant solutions, measurably enhancing the long-term social, economic and environmental status of their community.”

Each finalist had to give a 5-minute Tedx-style talk with no lectern and no powerpoint slides.

Climate Champion Susan Findlay-Tickner represented the program, accompanied by myself.


Susan Findlay Tickner speaking at the Banksia Sustainability Awards in Sydney

Before the event, we worked on Susan’s speech to make sure that anyone outside of agriculture would understand what managing climate risk means to a farmer and why it’s so important, especially in Australia.

Susan told her own story about growing grain in the Wimmera, and why the weather is important at different times of the year (sowing, applying fertiliser, applying pesticide, harvesting).

And she told the story of fellow Climate Champion Joe Keynes and how, after learning more from the Bureau of Meteorology about what drives the climate in his region, he sold some of his merino ewes earlier this year on the threat of an El Nino, and how that has turned out to be a good decision.

Susan’s delivery was sensational. Confident, engaging, passionate, well paced and exactly 5 minutes. At least 10 people came up to her afterwards and said how much they enjoyed it – praise that was well deserved.

So, while the Climate Champion participants were disappointed not to win, we succeeded in capturing the attention of the crowd (mostly city folk) and getting the messages across.

The other finalists in this category were:

  • Garage Sale Trail, Garage Sale Trail Foundation, NSW (the winner)
  • Hume Enviro Champions Program, Hume City Council, VIC
  • Plastic Free July, Western Metropolitan Regional Council Earth Carers, WA
  • Smart Ways to Live, Cool Australia, VIC
  • The Climate Reality Project Australia, Climate Reality Australia, VIC