Top environmentalist praises Griffith example

Environmental campaigner Jon Dee, smiling
One Tree Per Child's Mr Jon Dee

One of the world’s leading environmental campaigners has lauded Griffith University’s commitment to sustainability.

For more than 20 years Mr Jon Dee, co-founder of Planet Ark and initiatives including National Tree Day, One Tree Per Child and Do Something!, has helped millions of people effect real and positive change with regard to environmental and social awareness and action.

As part of Griffith’s Sustainability Week celebrations, Mr Dee visited The EcoCentre at the Nathan campus on Thursday, April 10, and delivered an address, Creating Positive Change & Leading the Way for a Better Planet.

“I think Griffith University is a true leader in the field of environmental sustainability,” Mr Dee said. “Initiatives such as The EcoCentre and the Sir Samuel Griffith Centre are proof that Griffith does not just talk about taking positive action; it goes out and does it.”

After launching Planet Ark — a not-for-profit group aimed at uniting people, business and government through positive environmental actions – in 1991 with Australian tennis great Pat Cash, Mr Dee moved from England to Australia in 1992.

Since then he has driven campaigns including Australia’s phasing out of incandescent light globes — a program now being adopted by other countries — and the banning of phosphates in laundry detergents.

Mr Dee’s Ban the Bag mission has seen plastic bag use decline in the billions, while his time overseeing National Tree Day resulted in 10 million native trees and shrubs being planted throughout Australia. His One Tree Per Child program is aimed at ensuring every child under 10 years old plants a tree in their community.

He believes Australia can and should be a world leader in sustainability programs.

“Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has’,” Mr Dee said.

“Australia may only have a small population in comparison to many other countries, but it is my experience that when Australians take it upon themselves to do something, others listen and follow.

“All campaigns, no matter what they are, need change agents to lead the way. Griffith University is clearly taking on the responsibility to be one of those change agents.

“In terms of environmental sustainability, it’s about communicating a compelling message that encourages others to recognise the value of contributing to the common and greater good.

“That way, sustainability can become second nature for everyone, and that can only be of benefit for us and the world.”