Students plan large sustainability conference


Carey Hemingway, Brisbane

The 15th annual Students of Sustainability (SoS) conference, the largest student-run environment conference in Australia, will take place in Brisbane on July 9-15.

Ellie Smith, convenor of Queensland Environment Activist Network (QEAN), a grassroots network of environmental activists and main SoS organising collective, is expecting between 500 to 600 people from around Australia and the South Pacific to attend.

The conference aims to empower people and groups to get active in social and political change, inspire ecologically sustainable practices, and provide a platform for national and international environmental networks. The conference mission statement is "everybody is a student of sustainability". "The privileged global minority has a responsibility to advocate on behalf of those without a voice on choices which can mean radical improvements or harm to the environment and all peoples", said Smith.

The conference will comprise of a mix of open-space workshop programming and pre-organised forums on topics including nuclear power and uranium mining, global economic justice and climate change.

Ian Lowe, president of the Australian Conservation Foundation, will be a keynote speaker, and there will be international speakers from Papua New Guinea, Northern Sumatra, Venezuela and Israel. A day will also be devoted to Indigenous issues, with elders from all over Australia attending.

Fiona Murray, a social work and arts student at UQ who attended SoS for the first time last year, encouraged newcomers to attend. "Even if you're not super-involved in the environmental movement, hearing extremely passionate people is an inspiration to do more", she said.

SoS is organised and run by volunteers, and is designed to foster a sense of community. To keep the costs low, everybody attending will be expected to help out with such jobs as meal preparations, child minding and working as a camp warden.

Concession rates range from $160 for the full conference to $95 for a three-day pass, or $50 for a one-day pass. Fees include access to all workshops and forums, free camping at the university softball diamond and three vegan, organic meals per day.

To find out more or to register online go to <>.

From Green Left Weekly, June 21 2006.
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