A strong legacy for the future! - Martin Brennan

ICLEI Oceania has brought great benefit to the local government sector in our region and on the eve of my leaving ICLEI after 17 years I make the following reflections on our legacy.   Many will no doubt recall the commencement of the Cities for Climate Protection - Australia (CCP) program in 1998 and its extraordinary decade of success. By 2007 there were 238 participant councils, representing over 80% of the population and in a decade of local action. And across the Tasman, 34 councils joined the Communities for Climate Protection – New Zealand program covering 83% of the population.

Following the success of CCP we established the Water Campaign in 2002 to address the need for councils to introduce sustainable water management plans. The Campaign achieved considerable success in water savings and water quality improvements in over a ‘Decade of Water Action’. In 2005 Integrated Sustainability Services was offered to councils seeking local level sustainability management and in 2008 the Cities for Safe and Healthy Communities commenced as a capacity-building program focused on identifying local government’s role in addressing drug and alcohol abuse.

The Thriving Neighbourhoods Conference Series commenced in 2011 and explored emerging approaches to the planning, design and management of local neighbourhoods that seek to radically improve health, social engagement, environmental quality and productivity. In 2013 City West Water, contracted ICLEI to analyse the goals and targets in the Greening the West (Melbourne) Strategy for implementation at the regional, municipal and neighbourhood level. In 2014 Mobility Choices was designed to provide local governments with a means to relieve congestion and conflict over parking space and promote travel choices in the longer term.

Our work in recent years has been significant in the Asia-Pacific region. Building on the CCP Indonesia program (2000-2005), we commenced work in 2008 with Indonesian cities on an integrated climate planning process. In 2012 we were awarded the Rockefeller Foundation contract to establish the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network. In 2013 we established the ICLEI Indonesia Country Office in Jakarta in partnership with the South East Asia Secretariat.

In June this year, following extensive relationship building with Pacific Island local governments, we commenced work with Port Vila City, Vanuatu to address the impacts of Cyclone Pam and develop a disaster risk management methodology and plan. Our work will expand to other Pacific Island local governments in support of their need to build resilience and adaptive capacity to climate change impacts.

I thank the staff, members of the ICLEI Oceania Regional Executive Committee and the ICLEI Board of Directors, who over the past decade and a half have contributed their passion, energy and experience to our work. I am pleased that Steve Gawler, our current Director, International Programs, will take on my role of Regional Director on 1 July.

I look forward to continuing a relationship with ICLEI in my coming role with the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL) and the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute on a new Future Cities project.

Martin Brennan
Regional Director