Townsville SOE home page

Townsville City Council
Accelerated Sustainability Planning

AtKinsson logo  
AtKinsson logo
| Home | Exec. Summary | 1 2 3 4 5 6 |
Appendices: 1 2 3 4 5 |

1. Introduction

The challenge of sustainable living creates unprecedented demands for learning, thinking, planning and decision making. To make Townsville a leader in sustainability, economic, social, and environmental performance must be improved in unity.

What is Sustainability?

One of the key challenges of the workshop was to work in diverse, multi-stakeholder groups – and to achieve consensus on a set of actions that everyone believes will actually result in making our city even better.

Townsville urban and natural environment.

The workshop and sustainability planning exercise uses the four-point compass to describe the different dimensions (Economy, Society, Wellbeing and Nature). These are utilized in combination with a four-sided ‘Pyramid’ relating to these four compass dimensions of sustainability.

In this capacity, the pyramid is a framework, and process for strategic planning. It assists to develop key foundations to build mutual understanding and to develop consensus on future goals and directions.

The method for interlinking each of the four elements (Economy, Society, Wellbeing and Nature) in the Pyramid is the individual elements sequentially thought-out in a systematic and logical process by first determining regional assets for each of the four elements.

The next component of the sustainability pyramid determines indicators of health for each element (Economy, Society, Wellbeing and Nature) representing the current state of the system. These indicators are designed to be used for the long term monitoring of sustainability trends in the City.

The Sustainability Pyramid process supports and accelerates the group’s progress on the sustainable development journey, from initial engagements with the vision of sustainability, through to consensus on a credible and meaningful plan of action.

Along the way, it builds a shared competency in trend analysis, systems thinking, strategic planning and consensus development.

The specific elements of the workshop included:

  • Assets and Concerns
  • Indicators
  • Linkages
  • Systems
  • Innovations
  • Strategies
  • Agreement


Who attended the Sustainability Planning workshop?

Councillors, Executive Officers and Managers from Townsville City Council
  • Councillors
  • Executive Engineering & Environment
  • Citiworks
  • Citiwater
  • Fleet Services
  • Citiwaste
  • Health Services
  • Parks Services
  • Environmental Management
  • Financial Accounting
  • Community Services / Development
  • Human Resources
  • Planning & Development / Policy
Business Organisations
  • Gough Plastics
  • Besser Masonry
  • BMD Group
  • Bendigo Bank
  • Townsville Port Authority
  • Ergon Energy
  • NQ Water
  • Housing Industry Association

Intergovernmental agencies

  • EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)
  • GBRMPA (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority)
  • Department of Communities
  • City of Thuringowa
  • Townsville State High School

In addition to the 2 day Accelerated Sustainability workshop, four other associated events were held on 18-19 May, 2004 all contributing to the process of accelerating sustainability in Townsville.

Council Executive Sustainability Briefing with Councilors and CEO.
Council Executive Sustainability Briefing with Councillors and CEO.

12 Townsville residents and Townsville Have Your Say (THYS) participants attended a sustainability briefing session / focus group (Results attached in appendix 2).

40 business and community leaders attended an executive sustainability briefing
Council Executive Sustainability Briefing with Councillor and CEO
Training for 18 Sustainability Change agents drawn from TCC supervisors and coordinators (Results attached in appendix 3).

Tapping the intelligence of the whole city community
AtKisson Inc.

Representatives of State Government, Local Government and Local Industry.
Representatives of State Government, Local Government and Local Industry.

What is sustainability?
Sustainability is very simple: it is economically viable, environmentally sound and socially responsible.

To get some perspective, we need to look at the big picture: many people share a single earth with a finely balanced ecological interaction between geology, landscape, air and water.

In order to look after the planet we need to look after both the global ecology, economy and people.

The planet is a great network of production factories and communities all running on solar power.


Production Factories

Production Factories

Solar Power

Solar Power


  • Creates boundaries
  • Protects legacy of past
  • Often has to say “no”
  • Brings focussed attention to separate set of overlooked values
  • Regulates and controls
  • In conflict with economy
  • Politically volatile


  • Creates possibilities
  • Develops future vision
  • Attempts to say “Yes”
  • Tries to Integrate and build consensus around issues and values
  • Encourages and provides incentives
  • Transforms the economy
  • Politically acceptable

source: AtKisson Inc.


Seven Principles of Sustainability

    1. Think Long Term
    2. Understand Systems
    3. Recognise Limits
    4. Conserve Nature
    5. Transform Business as Usual
    6. Practice Fairness
    7. Embrace Creativity
source: AtKisson Inc.

Sustainability is happening in Townsville’s backyard…

Sustainability initiatives in Townsville City Council
  • Developed and proven partnerships with engineering, environmental, community and economic management within Council
  • Development of Community Education Programs in partnership with Conservation Volunteers Australia, Environmental Management Services, Citworks and Citiwater
  • Total Water Cycle Management from rainfall to outfall (Creek to Coral)
  • Biodiesel and ethanol trial
  • Strand Wind Project education and inspiration for renewable energy
  • Creekwatch community involvement in waterways management
  • Toyota Prius petrol electric hybrid car
  • Carbon Neutral Water Recycling Project
  • Sustain – Youth Environmental Network
  • The Sustainable Townsville Program

Sustainability Initiatives in Townsville

  • Gough plastics Hot Harry domestic solar hot water system
  • Wind and solar city renewable energy proposals
  • Technology Math’s and Science Centre of Excellence in Technology Math’s and Science
  • Individual Centres of Excellence (Urban Planning and Disasters, CRC (Cooperative Research Centre) Great Barrier Reef)

Drivers for Sustainable Cities:

  • Comparative advantage
  • Cost competitiveness and profitability
  • Resource savings – more with less
  • Risk reductions
  • Performance standardisation internationally
  • Higher community and consumer expectations
  • International trends

Manager of the Department of Public Works (Project Services)  explains a model of the Sustainable Learning City.
Manager of the Department of Public Works (Project Services)
explains a model of the Sustainable Learning City.

Sustainable Cities Case Studies
As presented during Townsville sustainability planning week events

Orlando Sustainability “Legacy 2000” Florida

Emphasised communications relevant to “Disney” style, summarised the areas health, linked the final report to a prominent local political figure and released the report simultaneously in Washington DC (New Method).

Featured marketing language, inexpensively produced ‘snappy’ graphics, links to local issues (growth, sprawl, traffic, schools); generated controversy (but not too much); and emphasised linkages to explain local problems.


Compass Index of Sustainability for Orlando, 2000
Compass Index of Sustainability for Orlando, 2000
“Sprawling across paradise - we are building more and more, and bigger buildings, using more and more land” Orlando Sustainability Report, 2000.


New Orleans, Louisiana
“To lift the region in the eyes of the nation – the ultimate goal”.

SustainUs Newsletter - "Dreaming A New New Orleans"
- Post Cyclone Katrina

New Orleans: “To lift the region in the eyes of the nation – the ultimate goal”Produced a regional indicators report with linkages to other indicators, issues explained, Shire level data where available is online and supported by an innovative website and “the focus is on the region as a region

The process consisted of a:
Regional multi-stakeholder process; compass-based indicator system;
pyramid-based strategic planning
(behind the scenes)

Results to Date:
Direct impact on regional economic development strategy and foundation giving as well as new insights on key challenges facing region ... and the leverage points to address them


Sustainable Pittsburgh: “from smoky city to river-life renaissance”
  • Pittsburgh: “from smoky city to river-life renaissance” Pittsburgh has been gaining confidence and through sustainability projects including brown field redevelopment integrating historical sites (Washington’s Landing).

  • Developing Pittsburgh Technology Centre and Southside Works

Constructing green buildings and with eco-efficiency and eco-design (Alcoa’s International Headquarters)


GOA 2010:
Modeling a full transition to sustainability
  • Modeling a Full Transition to Sustainability, Goa 2100 Reorganizing land use bio-system models
  • “R’Urbanism” as new organizing principle
  • Integration of natural, urban and rural systems
  • Involves mixture of traditional culture and high tech-future
  • Energy & transport systems powered by a mix of wind and regionally sourced natural gas
  • Models the financial, governance, and planning changes necessary to achieve full transition

Modeling a Full Transition to Sustainability, Goa 2010
Modeling a Full Transition to Sustainability, Goa 2010

Swaffam, Norfolk County UKSwaffam, Norfolk County UK
  • Two wind turbines
  • Powers 20,000 homes
  • Fully supported by the community
  • Eco-centre




Executive Summary

1. Introduction <- You are here
2. Building the Pyramid – the levels
3. Workshop Results
4. Indicators and Linkages
5. Systems Mapping and Analysis Level
6. Innovations and Strategy
Appendix 1 - Attendees List
Appendix 2 - THYS Sustainability Briefing / Focus Group
Appendix 3 - Change Agents Sustainability Training
(Assets, Concerns, Values and Visions Linkages)
Appendix 4 - Townsville Sustainability Compass Index (Indicators Sheets)
Appendix 5 - Three Power-point presentations:
      1. Council Executive Briefing
      2. Business and Community Partners Executive Briefing
      3. Townsville Have Your Say (THYS) sustainability presentation

Next: >> 2. Building the Pyramid – the levels <<

Townsville City Council Home PageCouncil's Environment Management Services