Joanne Tulau

University student - Master of Sustainability and Climate Policy, Curtin University2015 Sydney Fellowship


I want to be able to say “I did everything I could to be part of the solution, and contribute as a change maker towards creating a sustainable world’.

What was the most valuable thing you got out of the Future Makers Fellowship?

Fellowship with a community of like-minded people, working for the same core goals. Finding my tribe.

Why are you passionate about sustainability? What was the moment or event that made you decide to become a ‘change maker’ in your field?

I’ve had two ‘pivot points’ that set my career direction.

The first came at age 11, when I saw the first photograph of our home planet taken from outside earth orbit. In that instant, I understood what it meant in terms of ever increasing human impact inside a closed system. So, driven by my love of nature, I set out to become a conservation biologist but changed course and ended up working for many years in environmental education, then in education for sustainability and state of environment reporting in the local government sector.

The second came in 2006, when I saw Al Gore’s film - ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. The message of that film affected me profoundly. For me, global warming is the ‘big one’, and so I decided to reposition in my career and to focus on enabling effective climate action in response to what I see as an existential crisis for humanity.

When I look back, at the end of my life journey, I want to be able to say “I did everything I could to be part of the solution, and contribute as a change maker towards creating a sustainable world’.

How did Future Makers play a role in directing your current path or project?

I’ve always been fiercely independent and never much good at asking for help from others when I need it. Future Makers supported me to slow down, lighten up and reflect on changing my thinking in order to find the support I’ll be needing to make progress along on the path I’ve chosen. Some great advice I’ll be taking on board is to ‘have more fun’ and to ‘go out dancing’.

In 25 words or less, tell us why leadership for sustainability is important.

Collectively, we create the world we have by the choices we make each day. Sustainability leaders are doing the challenging, exciting and creative new work that is bringing the sustainable future that we all want, into being.

What do you plan to do next on your sustainability journey?

Right now, I’m practicing “sustainability starts with me” and taking time out for re-energising, building resiliency and having more fun. I’m upgrading my qualifications and getting connected with cutting edge thinking in sustainability and climate policy through Curtin Sustainability Policy Institute (CUSP), and I’m loving it.

I’m planning to frame my thesis around the role that local authorities can play in decarbonising our cities and regions in support of global GHG mitigation goals. My particular interests are sustainable cities and enabling transition towards low carbon communities.

And, I plan to establish a consulting practice – SustainABILITY in Action. I aim to help leaders drive sustainability and climate change action strategies. Watch this space!

What are three words you would use to describe the Fellowship Program?

Affirming. Supportive. Inspiring.

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