NEWS FROM THE FRONT DESK – As we put our late edition of the newsletter to bed on Thursday afternoon we saw the flares (online) of bombs in the Ukraine capital Kyiv and in Donetsk. Not again. Not now as we face the biggest global challenges that should unite us all.

But there it was, another fight over territory, usually code for resources, usually code for oil and gas.

Someone in the office said if we were all fully renewable for our energy needs maybe we could wipe out our warmongering – well a big chunk of it anyway.

An hour or so later we receive a media release from the University of Sydney headlined, Russian oil and gas supply issues may be only short term. Professor Yuan Chen an expert in carbon materials and their sustainable energy and environmental applications, thought that with winter almost over perhaps Europe might skirt free of a major energy crisis.

Australia by contrast was already in a far better position in terms of security risk because we have so much renewable energy.

It means less reliance on the “old world” energy systems. “Despite our long dependence on fossil fuel exports, Australia is already in a much better position than Europe,” Professor Chen said.

“We have abundant renewable energy (solar) and we can harvest these sources much more efficiently than in Europe. There are two technical issues for us to resolve: (1) how to store renewable energy more efficiently so it can be better used locally and (2) how to find a cost-effective method to export our renewable energy to other countries.”

And don’t we know it. While threats were building in Europe there was celebration early in the week when Mike Cannon-Brookes and Brookfield said they would buddy up to shut down AGL’s coal play.

Huffing and puffing regardless, initial rejection by the AGL board included, it’s a pitch that has already decisively won the war, if not the battle.

Take a moment to savour the power of impression and messaging.

Such huge multi-billion commitments –$18 billion for the cost of the taking over the company and shutting down the coal fired power stations – have an impact way beyond their neat financial/accounting containment lines.  They resonate through the land in glorious triumph (maybe a bit like you might imagine Vladimir Putin’s sleepy time imaginings as he conjures up heroic victory)

They make the regular guy and gal on the street sit up and take notice. “Who is this hipster dude with $8 billion to splash around?”

Our federal energy minister might go even red in the face with discombobulation and the prime minister start bringing out the other big guns of fear and threats of price rises, but it’s too late.

The people have seen the headlines and they know.

And it looks like we have our new poster child.

Sitting in the strategy tent (or bid team if you will) was our first poster child, Mark Carney, who as Governor of the Bank of England explained to the world in 2015 the nature of finance and why it doesn’t give two hoots for politics. The finance markets are all about pricing risk, he said. And when coal’s finished, it’s finished.

As vice chair of Brookfield Asset Management and head of transition Investing, as he is now, Carney set about to make sure his words would carry the gravitas of history.

ESG gets its mojo hopping, at last

We’ve got a bit about ESG and property this week from CBRE and JLL and how this framework is rising strongly up the charts from its slightly foggy past where it felt more connected to wishful thinking and its close cousin, greenwash, to something taken a lot more seriously.

David Yates who’s leaving Dexus and the corporate world for a break until at least the end of the year, certainly thought so, as he shared some parting thoughts after 10 years with this giant property owner, as executive general manager, ESG, sustainability.

ESG was a clear defining trend on the property landscape. “Nearly everyone’s on the bandwagon”, he said.

“More and more you’re seeing moves and decisions made that are really bringing this to the fore.” The Cannon-Brookes/Brookfield announcement will only increase the momentum because it’s “putting the issues on the radar of the general public”.

Yates says, “The property sector’s been on this journey for a while and it’s that the rest of the corporate sector is getting on board because they’re seeing the importance of it.”

Over the next five years he expects the property industry will increasingly integrate ESG principles at the forefront of development or redevelopment.

If you think about what Atlassian wants to do at their new building in Sydney he says you can see the elements at work –  a dramatically sustainable building with a strong social element  to draw people back to the office, with the “pull factor” of a great place to work

“In five year ESG will be much more integrated and these principles will be firmly embedded into the way properties are looked at.

As to the hierarchy within ESG, Yates says the “e” has been at the top but the social element will become more important as Millennials start to make their way into decision making. They are already a big part of the workforce now, he points out, and they want to see more diversity and genuine inclusion, not just for women but for LGBTQI, Indigenous people and others  – not tokenistic.

The Gen Xs will probably have an even bigger impact given their impressionable youth when they were hit by major events such as Covid, the bushfires and big weather events, not just in Australia but globally.

“And this is where, I think that the corporates out there need to have this on the agenda. If they don’t they won’t be able to secure the talent.”

Clarence Slockee and Aunty Donna Ingram at CoreNet

Another thing the big corporates could soon have more strongly on their agenda is the understanding and collaboration with Indigenous thinking given Indigenous people have managed this wild and dangerous continent for more than 60,000 years and have evolved a highly sophisticated scientific knowledge of how it operates down to minute details – or they wouldn’t be here to start sharing these insights with us.

On that it was good this week to catch up with Clarence Slockee well known through the Gardening Australia program on ABC who will sit on a panel alongside another Indigenous powerhouse by all accounts, Aunty Donna Ingram of Tribal Warriors, on Wednesday, as part of the two day CoreNet Global Conference at the Hilton. The Fifth Estate will moderate that session and quite frankly, we can’t wait.

Slockee who’s been at one of our Tomorrowland events in recent years has a hand in the fast emerging field of trying to understand how to blend care for Country with care for People.

He’s worked on Australia’s first native species rooftop farm at Eveleigh, been a team leader at the Barangaroo delivery Authority and focuses generally on how to create more integration with nature wherever we are through Indigenous thinking. Currently he’s on a design team with the NSW government architect to see what the frameworks for that might look like for bigger developers.

Now wouldn’t it be good if the planners and city engineers allowed more natural waterways for instance, he mused during our chat ahead of the panel, so that all this heavy rain that Sydney’s experiencing right now wasn’t flushed away in hard surfaces but used instead to nurture the land.

But that’s just the start of what Slockee has up his sleeve to switch out our habitual thinking.

Aunty Donna on the other hand works with the social side of People and Country – especially with young Indigenous people, corporates and other social segments of our society helping to creating experiential flows in all both directions.

Another talent we’re keen to get to know better!

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  1. ……Australia by contrast (to Europe) was already in a far better position in terms of security risk because we have so much renewable energy. Is this correct? I have seen reports on some countries – Denmark for one – doing far better.