VC's Update - Our commitment to Below Zero emissions

2 October 2020

Hi everyone,

I wanted to start this blog by reflecting on the challenges of the last few months. 2020 has been the hardest year of many of our lives - certainly that is true of my own.  Everyone is impacted differently - but looking out for yourself (and those around you) and getting support when you need it is essential for all of us. I have a demanding job, but I too have to balance my family commitments with teaching and research - and sometimes, it's really tough to strike that balance. Last week, I spent some time with my family in the snow, to recharge and reset. Actually, it was pretty slushy, but we managed some walks and X-C skiing through the brush.

This year, for World Mental Health Day, I'll be joining a panel of ANU experts, along with alumna Therese Rein, to talk about resilience and wellbeing during times of change and uncertainty. I encourage everyone in our community who is interested to attend the event (online or in-person), or to take some time to do something for yourself.

As I reflect on this year, it would be hard to not speak about the loss of an ANU giant - The Hon Susan Ryan AO, a fearless trailblazer for gender equality, whose courage and leadership has influenced and truly changed Australia. I met Susan in my capacity as Vice-Chancellor on many occasions; when she was awarded the 2018 Alumna of the Year, co-delivered our inaugural Foundation Day Lecture, or when she was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate. Susan's contribution to our society will continue to be felt for generations to come and she leaves a legacy that shows if you want to change the world for the better, you can. Vale.

Changing the world for the better is a core mission of ANU. Earlier this year, we became the first major global university, and the first in Australia, to commit to reaching below zero greenhouse gas emissions. It is ambitious, but you only need to remember back to last summer and the catastrophic bushfires to see why it is crucial that we show leadership in driving a societal transformation in addressing climate change. We don't have decades - what we do now will change the world and I am determined that it will be a change for the better. The Below Zero Initiative will be a critical part of the ANU Recovery, and the project will ensure better outcomes for our community and the world. The Below Zero team are currently running consultations - where more than 280 ideas have been generated so far - and I encourage everyone to be involved.

Starting this weekend, 'World Space Week' will be running across campus. I may be biased, but this is a great week to learn more about space research, technology and exploration. We're hosting a number of events, including 'Science in the Pub' where we're bringing together a stellar panel of NASA scientists, ANU experts and researchers across the field. I'll also be joining Professor Anna Moore, Director of InSpace, for a conversation about the future of space tech and research. Shuttle up for some fun...

Finally, I wanted to share some good news from my personal life. Last Sunday, my 12-year old Labrador, Shadow, went missing on the farm, in a way that was very uncharacteristic. It was a pretty emotional time, and Jenny and I had given up hope, before I found her sleeping in my Tesla Tuesday morning on my way to work  - it turns out she jumped in when I wasn't looking and curled up and went to sleep, and didn't bark when we were looking for her. 

I hope everyone has a chance to relax and spend time with friends and family this long weekend, and don't forget the start of daylight savings on Sunday!