Hosted by UNAA (Victorial Division)

20 and 21 April 2021
This will be a Virtual Event


SDG #17: Partnerships for the goals

On 20 April, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed will open the UN & Australia Sustainable Partnerships Forum - 2021’s Major Australian SDGs event.

Ms Mohammed led the process that resulted in global agreement around the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She is now Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group, which is overseeing the implementation.

The Forum will also include:

  • Plenary Partnering Sessions: Advice and information will be provided about partnering at the international, national and city level and with young people. Partnership Broker, Victoria Thom, will run a workshop to help participants determine if they are fit for partnering.
  • Interactive Thematic Discussions: UN and Australian leaders will welcome questions and input during three breakout sessions under four key UN themes:
  • Gender Equality: Economic empowerment of women and girls, Women in Leadership and Wiyi Yani U Thangani – (Women’s Voices): Securing our Rights, Securing our Future
  • Climate and Planet: Circular Economy and Climate, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Human solutions for tackling biodiversity loss
  • Justice and Human Rights: Modern Slavery, Driving sustainable reconciliation efforts through an Indigenous rights lens and Global Health
  • Poverty and Inequality: Sustainable Finance, Financing the SDGs and Refugees and Asylum Seekers
  • Digital SDGs Showcase: Businesses, schools, government agencies, start-ups and community groups will showcase what they are doing to progress the SDGs.
  • Networking: Delegates can connect with each other and arrange individual and group meetings. On Day 1, there will be informal networking rooms dedicated to the four Forum themes and the SDGs. On Day 2, Delegates will have a final opportunity to create partnerships and pledge future actions.
"It is widely recognized that sustainable development with its three dimensions -- economic, social and environmental -- calls for a fully integrated approach, engaging all stakeholders. Partnerships are critical for achieving progress across the full agenda.” Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General


Day 1: Tuesday 20th April

1.00pm - 2.00pm

4.40pm - 5.30pm

Day 2: Wednesday 21st April

“Everything we do…must be with a strong focus on building more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change, and the many other global challenges we face. Our roadmap is the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals” Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General


Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General

Amina Mohammed, Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group, joined the UN in 2012 as Special Adviser to former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with responsibility for post-2015 development planning. 

Ms Mohammed led the process that resulted in global agreement around the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

Prior to her appointment, Ms Mohammed served as Minister of Environment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where she steered the country’s efforts on climate action and efforts to protect the natural environment. Having begun her career working on the design of schools and clinics in Nigeria, she ultimately rose to the position of adviser to three successive Presidents on poverty, public sector reform, and sustainable development.

Gillian Triggs
Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, UNHCR

Ms Triggs was appointed to the role by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in August 2019 after a long history of service to human rights and the refugee cause globally. Formerly, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Ms Triggs now oversees UNHCR’s protection work for millions of refugees, internally displaced and stateless people.

In October, Ms Triggs outlined the massive impact of the global pandemic on the world’s refugee population – which, at 80 million refugees and others forcibly displaced and stateless, is now at unprecedented levels. Ms Triggs said the pandemic has made very clear that we “cannot longer exclude people on the basis of their legal status. The future must be one of inclusion and shared responsibilities”.

Simona Marinescu, UN Resident Coordinator, Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, and Tokelau

As the UN Resident Coordinator heading a UN Multi-Country Office that serves the Cook Islands, Niue Samoa, and Tokelau, Ms. Simona Marinescu leads a UN Country Team of 12 UN agencies based in Samoa.

Ms. Marinescu has over 20 years of experience in international development coordination, economic diversification, and green growth, humanitarian and sustainable human development. She has held various positions, including those of Chief Development Impact at UNDP Headquarters in New York; first Director of the UNDP International Centre for Private Sector in Development in Istanbul, Turkey; and Senior Economist, Programme Director for Economic Reforms in Baghdad, Iraq. 

John Thwaites
Co-Chair, Leadership Council, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network Australia, New Zealand and Pacific  (SDSN)

John is Co-Chair of the Leadership Council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) launched by the UN Secretary General to provide expert advice and support to the development and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. He is also a Professorial Fellow, Monash University, and Chair of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute, ClimateWorks Australia and Melbourne Water.

Sarah Meredith
Australian Country Director, Global Citizen

Sarah is overseeing the movement’s efforts in Australia. Sarah comes to the role with more 13 years’ experience advising a number of Australia’s federal and state government Cabinet Ministers, including working as a Senior Adviser to the Australian Minister for the Environment. Sarah has been an active member of the community and was named as the City of Casey’s Young Citizen of the Year in 2002 as part of the Australia Day honours. Sarah has represented Australia at a number of local and national forums, including as one of 50 young Australians selected to be a member of the Australian Government’s National Youth Roundtable, and one of Australia’s representatives to the ‘Young People Can Change the World’ World Youth Forum in Wales in 2001.

Professor Margaret Gardner AC
President and Vice-Chancellor, Monash University

Professor Gardner became President and Vice-Chancellor of Monash University in September, 2014. She is also a Director of the Group of Eight Universities and Infrastructure Victoria.

In 2020, Professor Gardner was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for her eminent service to tertiary education through leadership and innovation in teaching and learning, research and financial sustainability.

Victoria Thom

Founder & Principal of Reimagine Action and Regional Director, Oceania at The Partnering Initiative

Victoria supports responsible business leaders to reimagine and expand their total societal impact through strategy and partnerships. She is an experienced social impact strategist and internationally accredited partnerships expert with a particular interest in the intersection of business and society. She is driven by a belief in the power of effective partnerships to create better outcomes for people and planet.

Victoria works with her clients to address complex social and sustainability challenges, integrate stakeholder voices into strategy and governance, strengthen respect for human rights and innovate through cross-sector collaboration.  Her work spans issues as diverse as vulnerability, indigenous and community governance, resource scarcity, health equity and place-based development.

Yasmin Poole, Writer, Speaker and Youth Advocate

Yasmin is an award-winning speaker, writer and youth advocate. She is Plan International’s National Ambassador and champions the importance of young women being heard in Australia’s political conversations. She has also been a commentator on prominent television programs such as Q+A, The Drum and The Project.

Yasmin is the Non-Executive Board Director of OzHarvest, Australia’s leading food rescue charity and YWCA, a national feminist organisation that has supported women and girls for 140 years.

In 2019, Yasmin was the youngest member of the Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence and Top 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian Australians. She was most recently named The Martin Luther King Jr Center’s 2021 Youth Influencer of the Year.

Professor James Cockayne 

Visiting Fellow, UN University Centre for Policy Research

James is Head of the Secretariat for the Finance Against Slavery & Trafficking (FAST), a member of the Secretariat for the Investors Against Slavery and Trafficking Asia Pacific (IAST APAC) and a Professor of Global Politics & Anti-Slavery, University of Nottingham. James is also Chair of the Council on Foreign Relations Study Group on Human Trafficking and Fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. He is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Futures Council on Equity & Social Justice.

June Oscar AO
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner

June Oscar AO is a proud Bunuba woman from the remote town of Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia’s Kimberley region. She is a strong advocate for Indigenous Australian languages, social justice, women’s issues, and has worked tirelessly to reduce Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

June has held a raft of influential positions including Deputy Director of the Kimberley Land Council, chair of the Kimberley Language Resource Centre and the Kimberley Interpreting Service and Chief Investigator with WA’s Lililwan Project addressing FASD.

June began her five-year term as Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner on April 3, 2017.

Darian Stibbe
Executive Director, The Partnering Initiative

Driven by a passionate belief in the power of collaboration to achieve prosperous, inclusive and sustainable business and society, Darian has for the last 16 years worked extensively with the United Nations, companies, NGOs, and governments with one aim: to drive the use of robust, effective partnerships for sustainable development worldwide.

Kylie Porter
Executive Director, Global Compact Network Australia

Kylie is the Executive Director of the Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA); the Australian Local Network of the United Nations (UN) Global Compact. As a sustainability expert and business leader, holding particular expertise in delivering responsible business and corporate responsibility strategies, guiding businesses on reputation risk management for environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and policy development and implementation across thematic areas such as the climate change, modern slavery, human rights and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Cassandra Goldie
CEO, Australian Council of Social Service

With public policy expertise in economic and social issues, civil society, social justice and human rights, Cassandra has represented the interests of people who are disadvantaged, and civil society generally, in major national and international processes as well as in grassroots communities. Prior to joining ACOSS, Cassandra held senior roles including with the Australian Human Rights Commission. Cassandra serves on the UNSW Law Advisory Committee, the Australian Climate Roundtable, the Pinnacle Foundation Board and the Energy Charter Independent Accountability Panel.

Paul Power
CEO, Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA)

Paul leads this national umbrella body’s policy development and public education on refugee issues and its advocacy with the Australian Government, international networks and UNHCR. Since 2012, he has served in leadership roles with the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network, currently being a board member and chair of its Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Working Group.
Under Paul’s leadership, RCOA has been strongly committed to creating opportunities for people who have been refugees to take more prominent roles in national and international discussions on refugee policy. In 2018, RCOA helped to support the first Asia-Pacific Summit of Refugees and the first Global Summit of Refugees and now works closely with the independent refugee-led networks formed from those meetings.

Alicia Darvall
Director, Regions and Partnerships, Sustainability Victoria

Alicia is an innovative leader focused on building collaborative partnerships, bridging cultures, sectors, and worldviews. Prior to joining SV, Alicia worked for B Lab, a non-profit whose initiatives include the B Corp Certification, businesses that meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance. She was the Director of Global Partners, responsible for the expansion of B Corporations around the world. From 2017 until 2020 she was the Chair of Melbourne Metropolitan Development Advisory Panel and Chair of the Inner South East Partnership – Metropolitan Partnership. Alicia plays a key role in delivering the Recycling Victoria initiative and helping Victorians live sustainably by acting on climate change and using resources wisely. She is also leading SV’s work on the Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre (CEBIC). The CEBIC brings together industry, universities and councils to develop new technologies and collaborate on creative solutions to food waste challenges.

Janine Dureau
Kimberley Service Development Manager, Juniper General

Janine is a proud Nyginka woman who was born and raised in Derby. Now based in Broome, she consults to Aboriginal corporations and communities throughout the Kimberley and around Australia.

Janine’s professional experience includes almost 30 years’ working in Aboriginal Business Affairs (State and Commonwealth governments and Aboriginal organisations).

She is passionate about building the capacity of Aboriginal communities and organisations. Working at the strategic level, Janine facilitates collaborative engagement and focuses on planning, leadership and governance development.


David Galipeau
Partner, SDGx Pte Ltd and Director, Yunus Near Future Lab

David joined the UN in Geneva in 2005 and, in 2010, was invited to the Asia-Pacific region by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) where he founded the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship programs, the UN Social Impact Finance initiative (UNSIF) and the UN Frontier Technology initiatives. David left the UN in July 2019 and co-founded the SDGx Group (Singapore, Berlin and Sydney) with a mandate to research, invest and scale the next generation of SDG aligned deep tech startups. David is also the Research Director of the MIT/CMU SoTech Lab, Faculty Advisor at CMU HCII, Lecturer at the United Nations System Staff College (UNSSC) and Chulalongkorn University School of Integrated Innovation, Director of the SDGx Near Future Lab – a non-profit, deep technology research lab in partnership with Nobel Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus’ Social Business Centers and the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) and supports many incubator and accelerator programs that focus on SDGs and deep technology.

Dr Sally Sherwen
Director, Wildlife Conservation and Science, Zoos Victoria

Sally leads a dynamic team of scientists and specialists that develop and deliver strategic programs in conservation, animal welfare, education and environmental sustainability. Sally has a PhD in Animal Welfare Science and is a member of the Victorian Government’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, providing advice on Animal Welfare issues relating to Victorian wildlife, agriculture, pets and zoos.

Zarmeen Pavri
Partner, SDGx, Senior Advisor (Australia/NZ), Global Impact Investing Network and Non-Executive Director, U Ethical Investment Management

Zarmeen is a Partner at SDGx, a technology investment management and advisory group, focused on solutions that address the UN Sustainable Development Goals. She has over 25 years’ experience within the investment management, ESG, impact advisory, product development and commercialisation. She currently also holds the position as the Senior Advisor for Australia & NZ for The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN); is a Non-Executive Director on the Board of U Ethical Funds Management and sits on a variety of investment advisory boards. She was the Fund Manager for Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) $20m social impact innovation and the specialist impact investment adviser to DFAT’s LAUNCH Food Program, sitting on the Global Council. Prior to this, she held senior leadership roles as Executive Director, COO and Head of Product strategy, at leading investment firms within Australia.

Simon O’Connor
CEO, Responsible Investment Association Australasia

Simon is the CEO of RIAA – an organisation with over 240 organisations and individual members who jointly manage over $9 trillion in assets globally – where he has worked for the past 6 years to elevate sustainability issues as core investment risks and opportunities, and shift capital to support a more sustainable, equitable and prosperous world. Simon has operated at the intersection of economics, finance and sustainability for nearly 20 years and has extensive international experience as an economic adviser, investment analyst and sustainability consultant across finance, corporate and not for profit sectors. Simon is active across the region and internationally in responsible investment and sustainable finance, as a member of the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, member of the New Zealand Sustainable Finance Forum’s Technical Working Group, member of the Aotearoa New Zealand National Advisory Board on Impact Investing and the UN backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) Australia Network Advisory Committee.

Grace Forrest
Founding Director, Walk Free, UNAA Goodwill Ambassador for Modern Slavery

Since its inception in 2011, Walk Free has become one of world’s leading anti-slavery organisations, responsible for publishing the Global Slavery Index (GSI). The GSI is the world’s leading data set on measuring and understanding modern slavery, informing international law, legislation, and prevalence indicators. A crucial part of Walk Free’s work is highlighting the need for greater transparency in global supply chains to identify modern slavery.

Grace is the youngest ever United Nations Association Goodwill Ambassador for Anti-Slavery. She is on the board for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, a director of the Minderoo Foundation and a founding member for the Asia Gender Network.

In 2018, Grace was awarded Nomi Network’s Abolitionist award for her work to end modern slavery and currently sits on the Board of Directors for The Freedom Fund, a leader in the global movement to end modern slavery.  Grace is the 2021 Young West Australian of the Year.

Elyse Sainty
Director, Impact Investing, Social Ventures Australia

Elyse has been at the forefront of the development of Social Impact Bonds and outcomes-based contracting in Australia for almost a decade. She leads SVA’s work in this space and has been instrumental in the development of each of the 8 SIBs that SVA has launched to date. She has also provided advisory support to a range of governments and service delivery organisations implementing outcomes-based contracts.  Elyse is a firm believer that the effort involved in putting together these transactions is worth it, as they force a deeper understanding of the drivers and cost of disadvantage, illuminate ‘what works’, and create partnerships with a meaningful and clear common purpose. Elyse’s thought leadership has been recognised through an Australian Impact Investment Outstanding Achievement Award.

Michael O’Neill
Senior Manager, Strategic Projects, Partnerships and Sector Performance, DELWP

Michael is a Certified Environmental Practitioner who currently leads a team within the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning where he is tasked with sharing Victoria’s expertise to create thriving, liveable cities and places with a particular focus on the state’s water management and governance frameworks. Michael has a degree in Sustainable Development from the University of Queensland and over a decade’s experience in the water, environmental, planning, policy and built environment sectors. Michael is currently leading the Victorian Government’s CivVic Labs challenge which is utilising Victoria’s start-up sector to measure Victoria’s liveability through the Sustainable Development Goals.

Tim Lo Surdo
Adviser to the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth

Tim is the Founder and National Director of Democracy in Colour – Australia’s first racial and economic justice organisation led by people of colour. Deeply passionate about people-powered change, Tim has spent the past twelve years creating opportunities for everyday people to take collective action. Before starting Democracy in Colour, he worked with low-paid workers to co-found Hospo Voice – a new union in hospitality. Previously, Tim was the Head of Campaigns at Oaktree (largest youth-led anti-poverty organisation with over 200,000 members), Campaigns Director at Jhatkaa (a movement of 1.9 million people taking action for a fairer India), the National Communications Director at UN Youth Australia, and co-founded Open Sky (one of India’s most well-known performance art communities). Tim is currently a Director of Plan International Australia, Environment Victoria, and Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre. For his work, Tim was appointed last year as one of 17 UN Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals and an advisor to the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.

Leanne Smith
Director, Whitlam Institute

Leanne is an international human rights lawyer by training, with a Masters in Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. Leanne has worked in the Australian judicial system, for the Australian Human Rights Commission, in the international NGO sector, regional human rights organisations, as an Australian diplomat (DFAT) and in various roles for the United Nations in New York and in the field, most recently as Chief of Policy and Best Practices for UN Peacekeeping Operations.  She is a visiting fellow at the ANU Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy and the UNSW Australian Human Rights Centre, a member of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law Advisory Committee.

Erika Feller
Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Melbourne

Erika is the former Assistant High Commissioner (Protection), one of the four top management positions with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. This was the culmination of a 26-year long career with UNHCR, and had been preceded by 14 years’ service as an Australian diplomat, in Canberra and overseas. She is broadly respected as a refugee law advocate who has been widely published.

Dr Cathy Oke
Melbourne Enterprise Senior Fellow in Informed Cities at the Connected Cities Lab, Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning

Cathy has considerable international and local expertise in sustainable, resilient and liveable cities. Cathy’s research interests focus on the interaction between urban research, policy and practice for greater impact in cities. She is project leader of the SDGs Cities Challenge, and Senior Advisor to the Innovate4Cities program of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. Cathy is the First Vice President of Local Government’s for Sustainability (ICLEI) and is currently the Chair of the ICLEI World Secretariat Board and co-chair of the Cities With Nature Knowledge & Research Hub.

Tanya Hosch​
Executive General Manager ‑ Inclusion and Social Policy, AFL
UNAA Goodwill Ambassador for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Tanya has a long and distinguished history in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy, advocacy, governance and fundraising. Before joining the AFL as the first ever Indigenous person and the second woman in its Executive ranks in 2016, Tanya was the Joint Campaign Director of the Recognise movement for constitutional recognition.

Trent Clews-De Castella
Co-Founder, Phoria

Breaking away from the gaming sector, PHORIA uses the storytelling power of immersive technologies, like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, to raise awareness for social impact causes aligned with the In SDGs. In 2019, REWILD Our Planet used social Augmented Reality experiences to encourage people to restore balance to the natural world. Developed in partnership with Netflix, WWF, Google, and the ArtScience Museum, this installation highlighted how extensively human activity has damaged wildlife and wild places. In 2020, PHORIA launched ecosphere, an award-winning VR nature series that transports viewers into the wildest places on earth. ecosphere has generated more than 1 million views, demonstrating the ability to reach a wide international audience through Virtual Reality.

Brodie Vansleve
Program Director, Global Education Equity, BHP Foundation

Brodie leads the development and implementation of strategies for the Global Education Equity Signature Program and Country Programs for the United States of America and Canada. With a diverse background gained through roles within Health, Safety, Environment and Community (HSEC), Finance, Corporate Affairs and most recently Sustainability and Public Policy, Brodie’s experience offers a unique blend of commercial, social policy and community development expertise. The BHP Foundation partners with UN Women to deliver the Second Chance Education and Vocational Learning Programme.

Lucy Stronach

Australian Youth Representative to the UN 2021

Lucy is a current student at the University of Western Australia, finalising her dissertation as part of her Law and Society Honours. Lucy has had many years of practical experience in the field of crime and justice, particularly with the Parliament of Western Australia, Western Australian Police Force, and the Department of Corrective Services. Her work has taken her to the streets of Mumbai to fight for the empowerment of sex workers, to juvenile prisons in San Diego to assist with literacy skills in young offenders, and to the UNDP in Bangkok to work with youth leaders in the promotion of human rights and justice. As Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations, Lucy will conduct the largest face to face consultation of young people in Australia.

Ainsley Simpson, CEO, ISCA

Ainsley fosters partnerships to advance sustainability; enabling industry to deliver infrastructure for our all communities. She has worked in an executive level at ASX listed organisations, with operational roles in the public sector. Her journey with ISCA has included the deployment and continuous development of IS Rating Scheme, as well as actively investing in building capacity in the ANZ infrastructure industry. Prior to migrating to Australia, she actively participated in multi-scale housing and civil infrastructure projects in Southern Africa. Project involvement spans environmental assessment and management for transport infrastructure as well as utilities, including transmission assets, water networks, waste facilities and telecommunications. With a keen interest in building capacity and accelerating approvals processes, she specialised in the development of local and state government decision-support tools for sustainable planning and management. Ainsley has academic credentials in business management and environmental science.

Sandra Silea, Senior Analyst, ESG and Stewardship, AustralianSuper

Sandra works in AustralianSuper’s Investments team to integrate ESG considerations into their investment process. In this role, she engages with listed company boards on ESG matters, actively votes at company meetings and conducts ESG due diligence for listed investments. 

Sandra is also the AustralianSuper representative on the Steering Committee of Investors Against Slavery and Trafficking APAC, the Cleaning Accountability Framework, and is a member of the RIAA Human Rights Working Group.

Professor Lauren Rickards, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT

Lauren Rickards, a human geographer and ecologist by training, is now working primarily on climate change futures and related questions about the urban-rural and human-nature relationship. With degrees from the Universities of Oxford and Melbourne, and experience in the private sector, Lauren conducts research on many of the social dimensions of climate change, particularly in the water and agri-food sectors and with collaborators in other disciplines and organisations. Lauren advises a wide range of groups in government, business and the NGO sector on climate change issues and is a Lead Author with the Intergovernmental Panel in Climate Change. Within RMIT, she has been working with others to support critical and purposeful engagement with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and questions of research impact.

David Manne
Executive Director, Refugee Legal

David has worked as a human rights lawyer and leader assisting refugees and asylum seekers for over 20 years.  He has been appointed to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Advisory Board of Eminent Persons and invited several times to present at the UN High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges.

Vanessa Zimmerman, CEO, Pillar Two and Chair, Human Rights, Global Compact Network Australia

Vanessa is a recognised global corporate sustainability expert. Originally an anti-trust lawyer, she was a Legal Advisor to the UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights. This included being part of the core team drafting the internationally recognised UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Vanessa has also advised other key global business and human rights initiatives and worked with businesses from multiple sectors. From 2011 – 2018 Vanessa managed implementation of Rio Tinto’s human rights programme. In 2018 she founded Pillar Two, a boutique advisory firm helping business to manage their human rights risks.

Vanessa holds various expert advisory roles including as Board Member of the Global Compact Network Australia and Chair of its Human Rights workstream and Modern Slavery Community of Practice. She has been appointed to several Australian government advisory groups including Australian Border Force’s Modern Slavery Expert Advisory Group and the Governance and Advisory Board to the Australian National Contact under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

Freya Dinshaw, Senior Lawyer, Human Rights Legal Centre

Freya joined the HRLC as a Senior Lawyer in 2018, where she specialises in business and human rights. Freya’s work focuses on exploring opportunities for deploying advocacy, strategic litigation and international mechanisms to challenge the treatment of vulnerable communities by governments, companies and other actors. 

Freya brings a breadth of experience to the HRLC, having worked with asylum seekers, refugees and other vulnerable clients, governments, international organisations, civil society, and the private sector in various capacities. She was the 2016 International Bar Association’s Human Rights Scholar and served as Head of Advocacy for the United Nations Association of Australia (Victoria) Young Professionals Network. She also holds a community fellowship at the Melbourne Social Equity Institute at the University of Melbourne, focusing on modern slavery research.

Amber Roberts, Senior Manager, PwC’s Indigenous Consulting

Amber has extensive experience working in the areas of native title law, Indigenous sentencing courts, human rights law and advocacy, Indigenous health equality, reconciliation and workplace diversity.

She has provided strategic advice to senior executives and board members of some of the largest organisations in Australia and globally to develop shared value partnerships and change strategies, embedding frameworks such as Reconciliation Action Plans, which commits organisations to build respectful relationships and improve opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Amber has presented at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York and actively applies an intergenerational human rights lens based approach that supports giving meaningful effect to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Mirerva Holmes, Executive Manager, Commercial, National Trust of Australia

Mirerva has worked in private industry and government organisations including City of Melbourne, Engineers Australia, Melbourne Water and EarthCheck. Mirerva specialises in city and social activation to increase visitation to cities and regions. She has trained with Al Gore as a Climate Reality facilitator, has judged in both the Queensland Tourism Awards and the United Nations Environment Awards and was a facilitator for the Queensland Government’s Circular Economy Lab in 2019.

Victoria McKenzie-McHarg, Strategic Director, Women’s Environmental Leadership Australia (WELA)

Victoria, who is also Chair of the Climate Action Network Australia (CANA), is passionate about the power of collaborative leadership to create systemic social change. Victoria is an Advisory Board Member of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI) at the University of Melbourne, and a Steering Committee member of the Forrest Gateway to the Otways project, developing a climate adaptation and community resilience facility in the Otway Ranges.

Professor Michelle Ryan, Inaugural Director, Global Women’s Leadership Institute

In July, Professor Ryan will take up the role of inaugural Director of the Global Institute of Women’s Leadership (GIWL) at The Australian National University (ANU). While she studied psychology at ANU at both an undergraduate and PhD level, she has spent the last 17 years in the UK.

Michelle Ryan is a Professor of Social and Organisational Psychology. She is involved in a number of research projects, including examining the way in which context and identity shape and constrain women’s career choices. With Professor Alex Haslam, she uncovered the phenomenon of the glass cliff – a term that describes how women are often put in leadership roles during times of crisis or hardship, when the chances of failure are highest.  Since its discovery, the term ‘glass cliff’ has entered public discourse and the concept informs and shapes debate and the public understanding of women’s leadership positions.

Janelle Weissman
Executive Director, UN Women Australia

For the past twenty-five years, Janelle has worked to strengthen social justice organisations tackling issues from women’s empowerment through to supporting people with HIV/AIDS in the USA, Australia and around the world. As a fundraiser, grantmaker and program manager, she has nurtured countless partnerships across the private, philanthropic and NGO sectors to accelerate change for good.

Preeya Ieli
Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme Specialist, UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office

For the past seven years, Preeya Ieli has worked on Women’s economic empowerment issues across many Pacific Islands including Solomons and Vanuatu. Her passion is to work with women in the informal sector as she feels they are most neglected and have very few opportunities socially and economically. Prior to joining UN Women, Preeya worked as the Regional Climate Change Manager for UN Habitat after 17 years working in Local Government. Preeya has a Master’s in Business Administration and a Diploma in Applied Computing from the University of the South Pacific.

Lorna Deng
DivTal Co-Founder

Lorna is the co-founder of DivTal, an online job platform that connects employers to job candidates from underrepresented minority backgrounds. Recently named by SmartCompany as one of ‘Australia’s 13 most inspiring female entrepreneurs’ her purpose is to help create a more inclusive future of work.
Lorna is a keynote speaker and is regularly invited to speak about leadership, purpose, diversity and inclusion and the future of work. She is a champion for inclusion and a mentor to migrants in Melbourne.

Dr Alexei Trundle
Research Fellow in Sustainable Urban Development, Connected Cities Lab and Future Cities Coordinator, Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute

Alexei’s current research focuses on the way that cities are contributing to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as urban climate resilience and adaptation planning in Pacific Small Island Developing States. Alexei is a Scientific Advisor to the UN-Habitat Cities and Climate Change Initiative in the Pacific region and was previously a Visiting Scientist at the United Nations University in Bonn, Germany.

Kate Nagato
Manager Innovation and Resilience, Melbourne Water

Kate is leading change in how the sector builds resilience to current and future pressures and better integrates land and water management in delivering its services to the community. With over 20 years’ experience in strategic, operational and collaborative leadership roles in land and water management, she is particularly excited by the increased focus on liveability and resilience over the past few years. She is passionate about working together to create great places to live and work, recognising the importance of nature for our own health and wellbeing as well as the myriad other species we share the planet with and building resilience to change and future stresses.

Steve Gawler
Regional Director, ICLEI Oceania

Steve joined ICLEI in 2008 as Director International Programs and was based in Jakarta for seven years coordinating climate change and disaster risk reduction programs. During this time Steve established the ICLEI Indonesia Office and managed projects funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, German Government and European Union.

Imogen Wait
Creative Producer, UN Youth Australia

Imogen is a third-year Media and Communications at Swinburne University of Technology. In 2019 she interned for the United Nations Association of Australia (Victoria Division) and is currently the Creative Producer of UN Youth Australia’s For the Future podcast. She strongly believes in the media’s power to shape a more inclusive and sustainable future for all.

Susan McHattie
Executive, Norton Crumlin & Associates

Susan works as an advisor and facilitator assisting clients in public, private, research and for purpose organisations to transition to a Circular Economy by setting goals and roadmaps, reviewing governance and creating partnerships, innovation and change. Susan’s prior governance experience includes elected roles in industry associations including the NSW Institute of Public Administration and the community cooperative, Reverse Garbage Truck. She has run programs and teams in NSW Government agencies including Justice, Education, Customer Service, Planning and the Premiers Department and led the Inner Metropolitan Regional Organisation of Councils and Community Arts Marrickville. In 2021 Susan joined the National Board of UNAA as National Secretary.

Stav Zotalis
Head of Global Engagement, ActionAid Australia

Stav has more than two decades experience in international development and humanitarian responses and has worked in the private finance sector in Sydney. She has spent the last 14 years working in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar and the Solomon Islands. Stav is a member of ACFID’s Development Practice Committee. She is passionate about gender equality and economic justice.

Rachel Lowry
Chief Conservation Officer, WWF Australia

Rachel leads a team at WWF Australia focused on delivering transformational conservation results across Healthy Land and Seascapes, Threatened Species, Climate and Food Security. Rachel has been an advisor to Australia’s Threatened Species Commissioner for the past five years and currently sits on Advisory Boards for both Parks Victoria and the University of Melbourne. Rachel’s current focus at WWF Is to lead an innovative, solution-focussed team working to secure a New Deal for People and Nature.

Nicole Battle
Chair, Australian Neighbourhood Houses and Centres Association

Nicole has been ANHCA President since 2019 and CEO of Neighbourhood Houses Victoria since May 2018. She is responsible for overseeing overall strategic operations and providing effective leadership for the sector. This includes ensuring a strong culture of governance and accountability and advocating to government and other external stakeholders to ensure the sustainability of the neighbourhood house sector now and into the future. Nicole previously worked in senior local government and not for profit sector roles as well as teaching politics and gender studies at Melbourne University.

Dr Claire Brolan
Research Fellow, Centre for Policy Futures, University of Queensland

Dr Claire Brolan completed her PhD and Post-doctoral studies on the formulation and implementation of the SDG 2030 Agenda through a global health and rights lens. Claire is a leading Australian researcher and thinker on SDG policy and planning at The University of Queensland’s Centre for Policy Futures (UQ). Claire was previously a member of the Global Council on Financing the SDGs (hosted by the Government of United Arab Emirates) and is an Honorary Advisor and Thematic Expert for SDG 3 on the Legal and Economic Empowerment Global Network’s (LEEG-NET) high-level, multidisciplinary human rights and SDG advisory board to the UN.

Dr Lynn Arnold AO
UNAA Goodwill Ambassador the SDGs

Lynne is a former Premier of South Australia and former CEO of World Vision Australia. Lynne also served as Senior Director for World Vision International and World Vision’s Regional Vice-President for Asia and the Pacific. A long-time member of the UNAA (SA), Dr Arnold has held the positions of State President in South Australia and National Vice-President. Dr Arnold is also former CEO of Anglicare SA, which works in the areas of aged care, families, vulnerable people, housing and economic participation. He was awarded the Order of Australia (AO) in 2004 for his services to Australia through the South Australian Parliament and internationally through the development and humanitarian aid assistance. In 2013, he was ordained Deacon in the Anglican Church and since 2014 has been serving as a Priest in Adelaide.

More speakers to be announced soon

“Collaboration and partnerships are critical to addressing the complexity of the SDGs. Although partnerships can be challenging to build and maintain, they provide a range of opportunities. To help forge strong partnerships, the SDGs should be used as a common starting point for discussion” Australian SDGs Summit Outcomes Report


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“The SDGs provide points of focus around which we can innovate and collaborate in the search for solutions to critical global and local sustainability challenges… we will continue to invest in these priority areas and work together with Governments, civil society, academia, and other businesses to realise the opportunities the SDGs offer to all, and we call on other business leaders to join us.” Australian CEO Statement of Support for the SDGs


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Portrait of Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed.
Official Portrait23 

23 February 2021

UN SDGs Leader to open Forum

UN Deputy Secretary-General, Ms Amina Mohammed, will open the virtual UN & Australia Sustainable Partnerships Forum on 20 April 2021.

As Special Advisor to former Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Ms Mohammed led the process that resulted in global agreement around the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

She is now Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group, which is overseeing the implementation of the SDGs.

Ms Mohammed joined the UN in 2012, after previously serving as Minister of Environment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where she steered the country’s efforts on climate action and efforts to protect the natural environment.


8 February 2021

Zoos Victoria to bring biodiversity into spotlight at Forum

Zoos Victoria will be a key partner in the delivery of the 2021 UN & Australia Sustainable Partnerships Forum.

Zoos Victoria will lead a session to discuss the work being done globally to ensure the effectiveness of the UN Summit on Biodiversity to be held in May. The Summit will seek to adopt a global biodiversity framework which includes ambitious global, national targets that can be implemented at a global, national and community scale by 2050.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said last year that by “living in harmony with nature, we can avert the worst impacts of climate change and recharge biodiversity for the benefit of people and the planet”.

Zoos Victoria’s Director of Wildlife Conservation and Science, Dr Sally Sherwen, will lead this conversation. Dr Sherwen leads a dynamic team of scientists and specialists that develop and deliver strategic programs in conservation, animal welfare, education, and environmental sustainability.

“From the devastating bushfires that swept the country followed by the global pandemic, the events of 2020 highlighted how critical it is for us to re-examine our relationship with nature,” Dr Sherwen said. “There is a way forward for us if we better value our interconnectedness on this planet.”

Dr Sherwen will be joined in this session by Rachel Lowry, Chief Conservation Officer, WWF Australia and Trent Clews-De Castella, Co-Founder, PHORIA.

Rachel leads a team at WWF Australia focused on delivering transformational conservation results across Healthy Land and Seascapes, Threatened Species, Climate and Food Security.

PHORIA uses the storytelling power of Augmented and Virtual Reality to raise awareness for social impact causes aligned with the SDGs. In 2019, REWILD Our Planet used social Augmented Reality experiences to encourage people to restore balance to the natural world. Developed in partnership with Netflix, WWF, Google, and the ArtScience Museum, this installation highlighted how extensively human activity has damaged wildlife and wild places.

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