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Brad Pettitt: On becoming a One Planet council

Brad Pettitt, speaking at The Fifth Estate Surround Sound, for the upcoming ebook, Greening the West, Part II, out soon

Part of the strength of the One Planet approach to sustainability is in the simplicity and undeniable logic of its name. We clearly do have only one planet to live on – but how often we forget this simple fact and live as though there is a reserve planet (or four!) we can fall back on.

But the strength of One Planet goes well beyond its clever name to the simultaneously clarity and comprehensiveness in its approach to sustainability.

Sustainability is about more than carbon reduction, more than recycling and green buildings, more than bolt on solutions or a single magic bullet. Sustainability under a One Planet model is a holistic but entirely pragmatic and workable rethink to business as usual – a journey of continual improvement.

The City of Fremantle was proud to recently become Australia’s joint first One Planet Council along with the wonderful City of Yarra. The City of Fremantle is no stranger to sustainability leadership, becoming the second carbon neutral council in Australia after the City of Sydney.

Becoming a One Planet Council is a major step in the sustainability journey ahead. Key projects like the transformation of the former City of Fremantle works depot into a world leading, medium-density sustainable housing development are on the cards. WA has never done a sustainable housing development along the lines of BedZed in London, the Sunship in Freiburg or even Christy Walk in Adelaide. I hope our former depot site can be a lighthouse project that shows that housing done well can both have a tiny ecological footprint and be affordable – just as Josh’s House (also in a Fremantle suburb) demonstrated the future of sustainable, affordable single lot housing.

In addition to great projects, One Planet is also importantly about engaging with the community and a great community cafe series based on the 10 One Planet principles in underway in conjunction with Curtin University’s Sustainability Policy Institute.

There is a lot of work to be done in Fremantle’s sustainability journey towards using only one planet’s worth of resources both equitably and ethically. In doing so I believe we are tackling the great challenge of our age: how comparatively wealthy communities like Fremantle can transition quickly to a more sustainable future. Fremantle is up for the challenge and that is just as well because as they say, “good planets are hard to find”.

Dr Brad Pettitt is mayor of the City of Fremantle.

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