Fiona Wain Oration 2015

(5pm, Art Gallery of NSW, Domain Theatre)

Thank you, [MC]. Good evening, everyone, welcome to the second Fiona Wain Oration.

I'd also like to acknowledge this evening's speaker, Amanda McKenzie, CEO of the Climate Council and also government and business representatives, and the winners and sponsors of the Banksia Foundation's 2014 Awards.

A very big thank you also to Sustainable Business Australia for honouring Fiona's legacy with this annual Oration.

As CEO of what was then called Environment Business Australia, she played an incredible role in raising the debate about the scale of environmental challenges we had to meet to ensure a sustainable and a just world.

In the wonderful words of SBA's present CEO, Andrew Petersen, Fiona "nurtured and took responsibility for something on behalf of everyone - and that something was SBA". The City of Sydney is a proud member of the organisation.

Our goals and those of SBA are in alignment: a sustainable world, a resilient economy, an innovative culture and a connected community.

Since June 2008, when we adopted our Sustainable Sydney 2030 strategy, we have worked steadily and methodically towards the goals and targets we outlined there.

On the environmental front, we have reduced the City's carbon emissions by 21 per cent, and will reach our 26 per cent goal by 2016. Our LED lighting program has reduced emissions and energy use by over 40 per cent - and is saving us $800,000 a year in bills and maintenance. And as SBA has pointed out, the environment is an economic asset and sustainability brings measurable economic benefits.

Last year, we completed our Renewable Energy Master Plan, showing how all electricity, heating and cooling in the LGA could be supplied from renewable sources by 2030, harnessing wind, solar power and renewable gas from waste. The plan won a 2014 European Solar Prize for a significant contribution to the expansion of renewable energy.

Many of you will - either as tenants or building owners - will be involved in Our Better Buildings Partnership. This program involves owners of 60 per cent of commercial office space working with us to reduce carbon emissions by 70 per cent by 2030. Together, the partnership has $105 billion in assets under management in Australia and its research shows that the take-up of "best practice" lease conditions is accelerating in the Sydney market.

The partnership has so far achieved a 31 per cent reduction and are saving more than $25 million a year in power bills. Last year, the program was named Innovator of the Year at the Banksia Awards for environmental leadership, and won the accolade for excellence at the Energy Efficiency Council annual awards.

Tenants are more directly covered by CitySwitch, the green office program we jointly sponsor with other councils and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. That program is now expanding into suburban and regional locations while our own solar-energy program has passed the halfway mark with over 2,000 panels installed across 18 of the 30 sites.

Last year we signed our third Environmental Upgrade Agreement for an energy-efficiency upgrade for the Anglican Church's St James Hall building on Phillip Street to reduce its energy use by 30 per cent and we adopted our Advanced Waste Treatment Master Plan to provide an alternative to landfill by turning waste that can't be recycled into low-carbon energy.

Like the SBA, Sydney is a committed advocate on sustainability issues. Sometimes, as I'm sure you know, it takes very persistent advocacy. But finally the NSW government has committed to light rail - which we're delighted about - and our much-maligned bike paths are catering for over 60,000 trips in the city each day, trips that would otherwise be made by car or public transport.

And I hope that all the companies represented here today are giving their staff the option of cycling by providing end-of-trip facilities.

I congratulate SBA on all you have done, and will continue to do, to protect our environment and promote a more innovative and ethical approach to our future. And I look forward to hearing Amanda's Oration.