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Alison Atherton

Biography

Alison is a Research Principal at the Institute for Sustainable Futures with a background in social sciences and chartered accountancy. Alison has helped many organisations to measure and improve their sustainability performance. She has extensive experience in projecting planning, management and implementation. Alison has worked with leading Australian organisations on sustainability reporting, strategy development and environmental management systems. Since joining ISF in January 2006 Alison has been involved in a number of projects covering key sustainability issues and design and delivery of processes to help organisations incorporate sustainability. Projects include: incorporation of sustainability at Powerhouse Museum; development of a business sustainability visioning module for the DEC’s Sustainability Advantage program; preparation and delivery of a citizens’ jury on climate change; development of environmental accounts at Yarra Valley Water; research and writing of a public transport blueprint for Sydney; research and writing of discussion papers and an action plan on short-termism in the finance sector; development of the first independent assessment of Australian carbon offset products and providers; an assessment of employment impacts of renewable energy scenarios; development of sustainability strategies for UTS in the areas of transport, climate change and paper reduction; and delivery of the Australian component of the first ever global citizens’ consultation on climate change, World Wide Views on Global Warming.

Prior to joining the Institute Alison worked for KPMG on corporate sustainability, particularly sustainability reporting, and prior to that, she worked for the UK's leading sustainable development organisation, developing tools for monetising organisations' environmental and social impacts, and designing and delivering training on environmental accounting. Alison also works part time for a private environmental fund with a focus on climate change and environmental education.

Image of Alison Atherton
Research Principal, Institute for Sustainable Futures
Core Member, ISF - Institute for Sustainable Futures
BA
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Phone
+61 2 9514 4909

Climate change
Deliberative democracy
Corporate sustainability
Sustainability strategy
Sustainability reporting
Measurement tools for sustainability

Chapters

Herriman, J., White, S. & Atherton, A.M. 2012, 'Political influence in the context of Australian WWViews' in Joan Font (ed), Citizen Participation in Global Environmental Governance, Earthscan, London, UK, pp. 221-240.
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Conferences

Herriman, J. & Atherton, A.M. 2010, 'World Wide Views on Global Warming: A global citizens engagement process on climate change', Advancing a Sustainable Future for the Indian Ocean for the Indian Ocean South Asia Research Network (ISOARN), University of Technology, Sydney.
Atherton, A.M. & Giurco, D. 2009, 'UTS Environmental Sustainability Initiative: case study', 2009 Tertiary Education Management Conference, Tertiary Education Management Conference, Tertiary Education Facilities Management Association (TEFMA), Darwin, Australia, pp. 1-10.
Implementing environmental sustainability programs across university campuses presents both opportunities and challenges. The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) launched a coordinated approach to sustainability in 2008. This paper presents a case study of UTSs Environmental Sustainability Initiative (ESI). It begins by outlining the aims and governance structures for the initiative which consists of a Sustainability Steering Committee; Committee of Working Group Heads and then working groups across six focus areas of energy, transport, procurement, water, waste, planning and design, and also reporting and communications. The paper then describes the development and consultation processes, and final outcomes, for three strategy documents in the areas of climate change (energy), transport and paper use (procurement). We discuss the role that such working groups, together with other support structures, can play in creating a more sustainable university, and offer practical guidance for other universities and organisations undergoing organisational change for sustainability. We also discuss some of the challenges that emerged such as: how to engage with staff and students to develop shared aspirations and reflect these in tangible objectives, targets and actions; and how to evolve organisational structures to implement strategies and create a sustainable higher education institution.
Atherton, A.M., Mathieson, B., Mitchell, C.A. & Pamminger, F. 2008, 'Accounting for environmental costs to inform strategic decision-making - exploring Yarra Valley Water's experience', Enviro 08 Australasia's Environmental & Sustainability Conference & Exhibition, Enviro08 Australasia's Environmental & Sustainability Conference & Exhibition, Australia Water Association and Waste Management Association of Australia, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 1-5.
Carrard, N.R., Chong, J., Atherton, A.M., Mitchell, C.A., Bishop, A., Donaldson, P. & Wilson, M. 2008, 'Costs and Benefits of a Green Village: Demonstrating Lochiel Park's Value', Proceedings of the 2008 World Sustainable Building Conference, World Sustainable Building Conference, www.sb08melbourne.com, Melbourne, pp. 1-8.
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Journal articles

Atherton, A.M. & Giurco, D. 2011, 'Campus sustainability: climate change, transport and paper reduction', International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 269-279.
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Purpose - This paper aims to detail the design of a campus climate change strategy, transport strategy and paper reduction strategy at the University of Technology, Sydney (Australia). Design/methodology/approach The approach to strategy development used desktop research and staff/student consultation to inform the development of objectives, targets and actions for each strategy. The strengths and weaknesses of the governance structures for strategy design and implementation are also discussed. Findings A selection of targets are given here, with further details of objectives and actions in the main text. Climate change: reduce emissions by 11 percent by 2012/2013, 30 percent by 2020. Transport: double the proportion of staff/student commuting trips by walking and cycling to 35 percent by 2011. Paper reduction: by 2011, decrease paper purchased by 20 percent and increasing recycled paper use to 30 percent. The momentum generated by the strategy development shows that it can play a significant role in creating a more sustainable university. Practical implications Practical guidance for universities and organisations undergoing organisational change for sustainability is given with a focus on: how to engage with staff and students to develop shared aspirations and reflect these in tangible objectives, targets and actions; and, how to evolve organisational structures to implement strategies and create a sustainable higher education institution. Originality/value The value of this work lies in the frank reflections on the processes used to engage stakeholders and develop the strategies as well as with the tangible targets and actions presented which will be of interest for other universities seeking to benchmark their own activities.
Herriman, J., Atherton, A.M. & Vecellio, L. 2011, 'The Australian experience of World Wide Views on Global Warming: The first global deliberation process', Journal of Public Deliberation, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 1-39.
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World Wide Views on Global Warming was the first ever global-scale citizen deliberation process, held on 25-26 September 2009 and involving approximately 4,000 citizens in 38 countries. WWViews sought to provide citizens with a voice in the 2009 UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen (COP15) by engaging them in a deliberative process about global political positions on climate change. The process produced clear, comparable results across all participating countries that were given to COP15 negotiators. The Danish Government agencies, the Danish Board of Technology and the Danish Cultural Institute, initiated the global process. Organisers in each participating country ran events using the same standardised process. The University of Technology Sydney, the organisers of the Australian WWViews event, paid special attention to several elements of the process to maximise participation and impact within the local context. This paper outlines the standardised global process used for this deliberative event and describes and reflects upon the tailored approaches developed for Australia. It examines in detail the objectives, processes and outcomes of recruiting and supporting participants and recruiting, training and coordinating facilitators, communications and dissemination of results and specific features of the Australian event. It includes the organisers reflections on success factors, challenges and surprises, as well as feedback from facilitators and participants. This paper concludes with a number of critical questions arising from the Australian experience of World Wide Views on Global Warming that are pertinent for practitioners designing other deliberative forums and particularly anyone concerned about future prospects for global deliberative democracy.
Atherton, A.M. 2004, 'Towards sustainability: beyond the financial bottom line', Spectrum, vol. 1, no. 6, pp. 7-8.

Reports

Rutovitz, J., Langham, E., Teske, S., Atherton, A. & McIntosh, L. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2016, Virtual trials of Local Network Charges and Local Electricity Trading: Summary Report, pp. 1-35, Sydney, Australia.
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McIntosh, L., Langham, E., Rutovitz, J. & Atherton, A. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2016, Methodology for calculating a local network credit, pp. 1-58, Sydney, Australia.
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Rutovitz, J., Atherton, A., McIntosh, L., Langham, E. & Downes, J. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2016, Local Electricity Trading: Issues for Retailers, pp. 1-26, Sydney, Australia.
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Rutovitz, J., Atherton, A., McIntosh, L., Teske, S. & Langham, E. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2016, Virtual trial of Local Network Credits and Local Electricity Trading: Byron Shire Council, Sydney, Australia.
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Rutovitz, J., McIntosh, L., Atherton, A., Teske, S. & Langham, E. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2016, Virtual trial of Local Network Credits and Local Electricity Trading: Wannon Water, Sydney, Australia.
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Rutovitz, J., Teske, S., Atherton, A., McIntosh, L. & Langham, E. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2016, Virtual trial of Local Network Credits and Local Electricity Trading: Willoughby Council, Sydney, Australia.
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Rutovitz, J., Atherton, A., Teske, S., McIntosh, L. & Langham Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2016, Virtual trial of Local Network Credits and Local Electricity Trading: Winton Shire Council, Sydney, Australia.
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Rutovitz, J., McIntosh, L., Langham, E. & Atherton, A. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2016, Virtual trial of Local Electricity Trading and Local Network Credits: a community solar farm, Sydney, Australia.
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Kelly, S., Lewis, H., Atherton, A., Downes, J., Wyndham, J. & Giurco, D. 2016, Packaging Sustainability in Consumer Companies in Emerging Markets: Final Report.
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Rutovitz, J., Langham, E., Atherton, A. & McIntosh, L. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2015, Building a Level Playing Field for Local Energy: Local Network Charges and Local Electricity Trading Explained, pp. 1-21, Sydney, Australia.
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Riedy, C., Herriman, J., Partridge, E.Y., Dovey, C., McGee, C.M., Atherton, A.M. & Daly, J.G. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2010, Household behaviour change in Queensland: Literature review and recommendations, pp. 1-186, Sydney.
Effective behaviour change by householders will be crucial if the Queensland government is to meet its Towards Q2 target to cut the State's carbon footprint by one third through reductions in electricity use, fuel consumption and waste to landfill. The Institute was commissioned to conduct research into the potential of behaviour change policies by the Premier's Council on Climate Change (PCCC). This advisory council, chaired by the Premier, provides high-level advice to the Queensland Government on climate change response. After examining contemporary theory and practice relating to effective behaviour change policy, Institute researchers made specific recommendations for behaviour change initiatives that can be implemented in Queensland. The report identifies key points of intervention in the activities that generate household greenhouse gas emissions. These include both new and revised actions that are supported by evidence from behaviour change theory and are applicable to Queensland. The PCCC prepared a working paper including recommendations based on the Institute's research, which is currently with the Queensland government for consideration.
Rutovitz, J. & Atherton, A.M. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2009, Energy sector jobs to 2030: a global analysis, pp. 1-117, Sydney, Australia.
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Greenpeace International and the European Renewable Energy Council published a global energy scenario, Energy [R]evolution, that sets out a vision for low-carbon global energy supply and compares it to the energy projection put forward by the International Energy Agency (IEA 2007). This report presents an analysis of the potential job creation associated with the two scenarios to 2030. Only direct employment associated with electricity production is calculated, including jobs in fuel production, manufacturing, construction, and operations and maintenance. Results are presented for the regions used in both the IEA and Greenpeace projections, namely OECD North America, OECD Europe, OECD Pacific, Africa, Latin America, Middle East, Developing Asia, the Transition Economies, India, and China. Additional detail is given for the G8 countries and the European Union. There have been many reports in recent years attempting to analyse local, national, or regional job effects of energy scenarios and energy policy. This is the first report that attempts to systematically analyse global job impacts of a low-carbon energy future.
Atherton, A.M. & Herriman, J. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2009, The World Wide Views Australia Story, Sydney, Australia.
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Atherton, A.M. & Herriman, J. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2009, The World Wide Views Australia Story - Summary, Sydney, Australia.
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Riedy, C. & Atherton, A.M. Institute for Sustainable Futures 2008, Carbon Offset Watch summary, pp. 1-4, Sydney.
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Riedy, C. & Atherton, A.M. Institute for Sustainable Futures 2008, Carbon Offset Watch 2008 assessment report, pp. 1-36, Sydney.
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Partridge, E.Y. & Atherton, A.M. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2008, What do UTS students think about climate change? survey results, pp. 1-12, Sydney.
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Atherton, A.M., Lewis, J. & Riedy, C. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2008, Footprinting greenhouse gas eEmissions, Sydney.
Plant, R., Herriman, J. & Atherton, A.M. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2007, Valuing Melbourne's urban water externalities, pp. 1-49, Sydney.
The Victorian water industry needs robust methods for the full economic assessment of water supply and demand options, to meet the required full cost recovery as set out in 1994 by CoAG and more recently by several key policy documents, including the Victorian White Paper Our Water Our Future and the Central Region Sustainable Water Strategy. Pricing water based on its true cost, full cost pricing, will put the resource to its most valuable uses. The full cost of water services includes several components, including full supply costs, full economic costs and externalities. Externalities are costs and benefits of a transaction not reflected fully in the market price. Full cost water pricing guidelines generally reflect two perspectives on how to define the cost of externalities associated with water supply and or water use: the economic perspective and the cost recovery perspective. This report explores pricing for externalities as defined in cost recovery terms. In this context, the costs of externalities are defined as the environmental and natural resource management costs attributable to and incurred by the water business. No single best way of achieving full cost recovery exists, hence cost recovery levels which would satisfy the full cost recovery requirement vary, depending on the circumstances of service providers. The minimum level is the price required to maintain a viable business; the maximum level is one that recovers all costs including externalities.
Atherton, A.M., Lewis, J. & Plant, R. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2007, Paradigm shift to long-termism: action plan for the Australian finance sector, pp. 1-35, Sydney.
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Atherton, A.M., Lewis, J. & Plant, R. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2007, Solutions to short-termism in the finance sector, pp. 1-28, Sydney.
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Atherton, A.M., Lewis, J. & Plant, R. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2007, Causes of short-termism in the finance sector, pp. 1-27, Sydney.
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Riedy, C., Atherton, A.M. & White, S. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2006, A 10 point plan for a sustainable transport future, pp. 1-8, Sydney.
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Atherton, A.M., Riedy, C. & White, S. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2006, Moving on: the RTBU's public transport blueprint for Sydney - summary paper, pp. 1-36, Sydney.
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Riedy, C., Atherton, A.M. & Lewis, J. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2006, Capital Region Climate Change Forum: Citizens' Report, pp. 1-62, Sydney.
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The Capital Region Climate Change Forum was organised, facilitated and evaluated by the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). The NSW Greenhouse Office and the ACT Department of Territory and Municipal Services provided funding for the Forum. The Forum was held from Friday 1 December to Sunday 3 December 2006. The primary objectives of the Forum were to: * Test the use of a citizens jury as a way of helping the community to engage with the issue of climate change and develop informed recommendations on how to respond * Provide the NSW and ACT Governments with a greater understanding of how the community in the Capital Region would like to respond to climate change * Improve understanding of community perspectives on climate change more broadly. The Forum grew out of an earlier proposal for a National Conversation on Climate Change (NCCC), developed by ISF. The NCCC proposal is provided in Appendix A. The aim of the NCCC is to stimulate public debate on Australia's response to climate change by undertaking a series of high profile citizen forums in all Australian states and developing an associated website and other media outputs. It seeks to promote public deliberation on climate change response. Deliberation is an approach to decision making in which citizens consider relevant facts from multiple points of view, converse with one another to think critically about options before them and enlarge their perspectives, opinions and understandings. In a deliberative process, participants are provided with information, training, time and other resources to allow them to learn about and debate an issue and come to a considered view. A deliberative process acts as a capacity building exercise in which non expert members of the community are empowered to discuss and form valid opinions about the subject.
Atherton, A.M., Riedy, C. & White, S. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2006, Moving on: the RTBU's public transport blueprint for Sydney - policy paper, pp. 1-81, Sydney.
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Riedy, C., Atherton, A.M. & Lewis, J. Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS 2006, Capital region Climate Change Forum: Project report, evaluation report, Sydney.