Whose extinction? - environment, population, and solutions

With Dermot O'Gorman, CEO, WWF-Australia

Local respondent: Adelaide's Lord Mayor, Stephen Yarwood

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Adelaide Town Hall, 128 King William Street, Adelaide

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Jointly presented by the Australia Day Council of South Australia and The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre

For 50 years, bodies like WWF have been at the forefront of global efforts to conserve vulnerable species. Yet the planet's plants and animals still face an extinction crisis. Research shows that unique species are dwindling, and since 1970, 30 per cent have vanished entirely.

At the same time, demands on the planet's natural resources have doubled. Each year humans use more than the planet can replenish. By 2050 the human population is expected to reach 9 billion.

Dermot O'Gorman, CEO of WWF-Australia believes that any solution to the continued extinction crisis must go hand in hand with the challenge of supporting a world of 9 billion people.

He will argue that by conserving the most critical places for the planet's biodiversity, and working with the most enterprising big companies to create sustainable commodities and products, a workable environmental future will be attainable both for humans and other species in the web of life.

Adelaide's Lord Mayor, Stephen Yarwood, will respond, reflecting local South Australian challenges.


Dermot O'Gorman

With previous roles in Australia, the UK, Switzerland, the Pacific Islands and most recently China, Dermot O'Gorman brings a wealth of experience to the position of WWF-Australia's Chief Executive.

Since joining WWF in 1998, Dermot has helped WWF and the Asian Development Bank work together to improve policies on sustainable development across the Asia Pacific. He supported WWF offices across Asia to grow the region's culture of Corporate Social Responsibility, helping WWF secure funding from a range of sources including private sector, government and aid agencies.

As head of WWF-China, Dermot oversaw the growth of the office from 55 staff and USD$6 million in 2006 to 130 staff in nine offices across the country with an annual budget of more than USD$15 million. Dermot also engaged with more than 50 multinational countries based in China, including HSBC, Coca Cola, Walmart, China Mobile and China Development Bank, to help raise awareness of environmental sustainability and improve practices.

A Masters in Business Administration (Honours) from IMD-Switzerland, Masters of Science from the London School of Economics and degrees from University of London and Southern Cross University provide Dermot with the broad experiences vital to working for, and with the private sector on sustainability solutions.

"I look forward to the challenges and the opportunities of working in Australia," said Dermot.  "Australian companies can and are playing an important role in creating a more sustainable world. We are incredibly interconnected - both environmentally and socially. What Australia does to protect its unique wildlife and landscapes matters to the rest of the world. 

"As a science-based, solutions-focused conservation organisation, WWF-Australia aims to provide answers to the complex issues our planet faces."

Stephen Yarwood

Stephen is the City of Adelaide's youngest-ever Lord Mayor. A town planner with nearly 20 years' experience in state and local government, Stephen has dedicated his professional life to developing cities.  Stephen's vision for Adelaide is a modern, vibrant and sustainable place to do business, live and enjoy life. He believes an economy based on innovation, education, arts and culture will make Adelaide prosperous.

One of Stephen's primary goals is to encourage strong working relationships between all levels of government, as well as business and the general community.

Stephen was elected an Adelaide City Councillor in October 2007 and was Deputy Lord Mayor in 2009. He is a member of the Adelaide Development Assessment Panel, Capital City Committee, Adelaide Parklands Authority, Rundle Mall Management Authority, Capital City Committee of Lord Mayors and the Metropolitan Adelaide Mayors Executive. He is also the Presiding Member of the Local Government Association committee, overseeing the State/Local Government Climate Change Sector Agreement.

Stephen has also served on the Adelaide Central Market Committee, Adelaide High School Governing Council and the board of the Adelaide Convention Bureau. Stephen has an MBA, as well as post-graduate qualifications in Regional and Urban Planning and Environmental Studies. He worked as a researcher in state parliament before joining the City of Playford as Principal Planner for six years. Stephen has lectured in planning and management in several countries, as well as studying future cities in Tsukuba, Japan's technology city.

Stephen drives an electric car and enjoys bike riding, food, music and world travel. He lives in the heart of the CBD with his wife Emily, daughter Megan and son Oliver.

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While the views presented by speakers within The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia, or The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: Strengthening our Democracy - Valuing our Diversity - Building our Future. The Hawke Centre reserves the right to change their program at any time without notice.