Breakouts will be interactive, with participants encouraged to ask questions, provide links to relevant research and take part in polls.

Focus Areas

Sustainable Cities and Communities

This session is being presented in partnership with RMIT and Melbourne Water.

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities highlights the critical role of cities as a focal point for multiple challenges: population growth, densification, transport, energy, infrastructure development, social inclusion, waste – to name only a few.

The global pandemic has shone a new spotlight on the way cities and communities operate and challenged fundamental assumptions about future planning. Measures used to contain the spread of the Coronavirus such as lockdowns and restrictions on movement have changed what people in urban, peri-urban and regional locations want and need from where they live and work.

This session brings together climate, water and local government experts and practitioners to discuss how best to form inclusive and effective partnerships across sectors to ensure future cities are resilient, responsive, and sustainable.

Session Host

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.


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.

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.

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.

Sustainable Development Goals

Women in Leadership

As crisis after crisis unfolded in 2020, women found themselves on the frontlines and stepped up to lead their communities through bushfires, COVID-19, the climate crisis and economic recession.

How can we make sure that women lead the creation of solutions to issues such as climate change, economic injustice and natural disasters that have such an impact on their lives?

These sessions will develop the partnerships needed to ensure that women’s leadership is at the forefront during the final decade of the SDGs.

Session Host

Yasmin Poole, Writer, Speaker and Youth Activist

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 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).  Michelle 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.

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.

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.

Sustainable Development Goals

Financing the SDGs

Achieving the SDGs by 2030 requires increased investment and funding of projects and programs that can achieve true, lasting social and environmental change. The global pandemic has made this even more important.

Innovative and forward-thinking businesses, governments and philanthropic foundations will support start-ups, service providers and entrepreneurs who can demonstrate that their ideas will have real impact on the wellbeing of people and our planet. As this investment flows into on-the- ground change, social, environmental and economic benefits for everyone.

This session will provide examples of programs that can make real change and will discuss the partnerships needed to ensure their success.

Session Host

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 SDGs. She has over 25 years’ experience within the investment management, ESG, impact advisory, product development and commercialisation. Zarmeen 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.


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.

Nicole Battle, President, 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.


Sustainable Development Goals

Global Health

COVID-19 has pushed global health and its links to climate change, security, development and economic stability to the forefront. At a time when rapid economic, environmental and social change have made public health more complex, innovation and technology are providing hope for future affordable, accessible solutions.

This session will talk about the challenges across our region including non-communicable diseases, threats to health security and ongoing lack of access to universal health care and the partnerships to drive reform.

Session Host/Speakers


Sustainable Development Goals