CSIRO Sustainability Science Symposium

View the full program here

This Sustainability Science Symposium will showcase some of the early research findings of CSIRO’s Valuing Sustainability Future Science Platform (VS FSP) and related research from Australia and around the world. It will be held on March 12 and 13, 2024 at the QT Hotel in Canberra, Australia, and will provide opportunities to engage with leading national and international researchers and practitioners working in transdisciplinary sustainability science, and the next generations of leaders in this space from CSIRO and beyond.

CSIRO’s investment in cutting edge science through the VS FSP reflects a growing interest in evidence-based approaches to driving innovation for sustainability with and for regional Australia. The science covers both:

  • The how: developing new ways to work together
  • The what: systemic changes required to achieve sustainability outcomes that benefit people, planet and prosperity

As we near the half-way mark of the critical decade, the imperative to address sustainability challenges is intensifying across business, government and civil society. The global Sustainable Development Goals remain distant, climate change impacts are intensifying, biodiversity loss continues, while greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. Instability in society, ecological systems, food systems, geo-politics and trade create new threats as well as opportunities.

With diverse goals and drivers of change, a major science challenge is to span across and beyond disciplines to advance multiple outcomes that reflect what our society values. For example:

  • How can we build resilience to a changing climate at the same time as undergoing a transition to a low greenhouse gas economy?
  • How do we catalyse vibrant industries, quality jobs and relevant skills in our regions through transitions towards sustainability?
  • How do we boost outputs on agricultural, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land and sea estates while reversing the decline in biodiversity?
  • How can we ensure that private investment in nature-based solutions achieves both environmental and social outcomes?
  • How do we ensure the measures of change used to monitor and evaluate our progress can also drive investment and innovation leading to desirable outcomes?

Through the VS FSP, CSIRO and partners are developing and testing new approaches to tackle these sorts of questions. Our research spans the engagement processes that build trust and legitimacy, to credible measures that reflect what people value, from soil health, to quality jobs, to supply chain resilience.

Attendance at this 2-day symposium is by invitation and numbers are limited. If you would like to express interest in attending please read the symposium overview above and briefly let us know why you are interested in attending/contributing via email.

Timing and content is subject to change.

Day 1 – Sustainability Science

Day 1 will open up our VS FSP portfolio and dive into key conversation around the ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ of our research. Participants will hear from our research teams and other leading Australian and international researchers about new directions in sustainability science. We will engage in discussion about alignments and options for this work going forward.  

Speakers are still being finalised, but will include: 

  • Peat Leith (CSIRO, Director Valuing Sustainability FSP) 
  • Clark Miller (Arizona State University) 
  • Amelia Olsen-Boyd (CSIRO, Missions Strategist) 

The evening of day 1 will feature a ticketed sit-down dinner, giving attendees the opportunity to discuss and reflect on sessions run during the day.



Why Valuing? Exploring the distinctions between; values; valuation and different forms of value

Doing Science Differently. Exploring methodology that advances understanding of co-production; positionality; reflexivity; and the uses and demand for it in action.

Land and Sea Stewardship. A focus on emerging method, measures and indicators, and how they can and do (and do not) work in driving multiple societal outcomes at the same time.


The How – Innovation for Sustainability. Sharing a wide-ranging conversation about how innovation for Sustainability is being examined and advanced within the FSP, and beyond.

Big transitions in science and society. Uta Wehn and Clark Miller share stories about co-production and open science and how these are playing out around grand challenges moves in Europe and the USA.


Ticketed dinner at Monster Kitchen

Day 2 – Towards a future for transdisciplinary future

Day 2 will invite participants into deeper discussions about current and future directions for trans-disciplinary sustainability science in Australia. Through a choice of hands-on workshops and panel discussions, we will use the VS FSP’s portfolio of projects as a starting point for learning with participants. These projects span disciplines from economics and social sciences, to ecology and soil science. They work across agriculture, fisheries and mining, and with many groups from investors, to policy professionals, to regional and Indigenous communities. They explore how our science can effectively drive sustainability outcomes. 

A networking event in the evening will conclude the symposium.