The Mid West Sustainable Energy and Innovation Expo showcased in Geraldton highlighted the importance of regional science community engagement.
The expo was a collaboration between; Inspiring Australia – National Science Week, City of Greater Geraldton, Northern Agricultural Catchments Council (NACC), Regional Development Australia Mid West and Gascoyne, Geraldton Community Bank – Bendigo Bank, Durack Institute of Technology and the CSIRO.
It included 34 events across the week and attracted more than 750 people.
As well as the exhibition, the inaugural Sustainability and Innovation awards were announced which had 56 nominations over nine categories.
Thousands of dollars were granted to contributing participants as well as presentations led by Chief Scientist of Western Australia, Lyn Beazley and other leaders in climate change and renewable energy.
Plans for next year’s events are well underway with studies being undertaken to ascertain issues of concern for the region that can be highlighted during its presentation.
Part of this is the Climate Change Perceptions survey that has just been run in a joint venture between the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council, CSIRO and Curtin University.
The survey wants to find what local people believe about climate change, its cause and what mitigation efforts can be taken.
Mark Canny, the Climate Change Coordinator for NACC says that some initial results show that while there is some scepticism, “a lot of people are recognising that being a coastal town, we are experiencing a good deal of change in terms of coastal processes”.
People want more information but find it difficult to not be flooded by a lot of the scientific analysis that describes a big picture view of global consequences.
The survey is trying to focus on business and individual outcomes that show changes in lifestyle or more direct monetary effects from government policies such as the carbon tax and inducements towards renewable energy.
Mark and his team will distribute the ideas presented to them amongst Mid West business and residents in a seeding process whereby interested parties can then make use of them to take their own ideas forward.
Mr Canny says, ‘Working with the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council our motto is, we support people, we support the environment, we do activities ourselves but it’s about empowering those organisations and individuals to make the changes’.
SEIE2012 garnered overwhelming positive feedback and plans are underway for an event in 2013.