Unconference 2

A boost from a world-renowned researcher this month.

Professor Chris Ryan from the University of Melbourne is director of the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL). Allanah Ryan says she “invited Chris to come because we have this idea to create a living laboratory, and we were really looking for a model from elsewhere that we might be able to learn from”.

Chris Ryan says VEIL is focused on looking at the “wicked” problems facing society. “We exist within an environment and an economy and a social organisation and culture that has been based on 200 years of reliance on fossil fuels,” he says. “Our existence depends on enormous flows of those fuels and yet we have a period of 15 years, according to the International Energy Agency, to turn that around. It’s a significant challenge.”

The lab brings together people from across the University of Melbourne and those outside it who are capable of thinking about solutions to these problems, he says. “We try to envisage plausible futures and then identify directions for research and innovation that will get us there in the next 25 years.”

Chris Ryan says the Massey project shows great promise. “It is a great group with really emergent ideas and there is a fantastic spirit here,” he says. “It has the feeling of something that’s reached its take-off point.”

The Challenging Sustainability team will produce a white paper summarising its experiences and findings and present it to the University in June