AM increases its commitment to raise awareness and research around impacts of climate change by appointing Prof. Flannery as Distinguished Visiting Fellow.

Sydney, 24 January 2019: The Australian Museum (AM) today announced the appointment of internationally acclaimed scientist, author, explorer and conservationist Professor Tim Flannery as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow focussed on researching the impacts of climate change and raising awareness of the issues, especially impacts on biodiversity and our coastal environments.

Professor Flannery, who will relocate to Sydney for the role was formerly head of mammalian biology at the AM for 15 years and has recently worked with the museum on a research expedition in the Solomon Islands.

“Climate change and its impacts are among the greatest threats to Australia and the Pacific’s future, yet the impacts often seem far removed from our everyday lives or too complex for individuals to take positive action. Given museums are among the most trusted science institutions, the Australian Museum believes it has an important role in helping people understand the impacts of climate change,” Kim McKay AO, Director & CEO of the AM said.

“Tim Flannery is an internationally respected scientist working on climate change and we’re thrilled to welcome him back to the AM as Distinguished Visiting Fellow. His experience and expertise will significantly strengthen our capacity to reach audiences and launch a world-leading program of outreach and education on the impacts of climate change”.

Professor Flannery, 2007 Australian of the Year, is the author of the internationally acclaimed The Weather Makers and was Australia’s Climate Commissioner from 2011-2013. Previously head of mammalian biology at the Australian Museum (1984-1999), he re-joins the AM for the next year to further his research into climate change and communicate the most relevant issues facing Australia and the Pacific.

“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time, affecting all life on the planet, and Australia is poorly prepared for the massive transition that is about to happen,” Prof Flannery said.

“The Australian Museum has a long and very proud tradition of biodiversity protection and engagement in climate change, and I’m enormously proud to join the museum at this critical time to actively improve public awareness of our changing climate and the opportunities that exist within the new clean economy,” he added.

The Australian Museum 2019 Climate Change Statement recognises that “climate change poses a serious environmental, economic and social threat to our current way of life and to the security of future generations across the globe”. The Statement builds on the museum’s existing climate change research, public engagement, education programs and exhibitions over the last decade, setting out a clear framework to achieving a leading role supporting climate action.

Professor Flannery will work closely with AM educators, researchers, and scientists to expand education programs with primary and secondary students on climate change and the opportunities for employment, innovation and biodiversity protection.

He will also deepen the AM’s current engagement with Pacific Islander communities already impacted by climate change and take part in a broader program of public outreach to foster conversation and positive action.

In addition to Professor Flannery’s role, Dr Jenny Newell, the AM’s Manager of Pacific & International Collections and the author of Curating the Future: Museums, Communities and Climate Change, will also lead climate change public outreach initiatives. Dr Newell has worked extensively across Pacific communities and with Sydney’s Pacific diaspora on promoting climate change awareness and action.

Over the next three years the museum will expand its climate-change related exhibitions and online content providing the community with a trusted resource on climate change science and facts, based on the work of the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI).

AMRI scientists and researchers use the AM’s collection of more than 21 million objects and specimens alongside its citizen science initiatives to identify and communicate the impacts of climate and environmental change on the biodiversity of Australia and the Pacific.

Professor Flannery will be involved with AMRI scientists in conducting a scoping study tracking impacts of climate change and biodiversity changes on species held in the AM’s extensive collection as well as continuing to collaborate on the Solomon Islands project. He will also work closely with the AM’s Lizard Island Reef Research Station on the Great Barrier Reef monitoring climate change impacts.

The AM’s flagship citizen science initiative FrogID has already recorded more than 65,000 frog calls and identified 182 frog species, providing unprecedented baseline data and helping to understand what is happening to Australia’s frogs in a rapidly changing climate system.

The AM Climate Change Statement also sets out a clear commitment to reducing the museum’s own carbon footprint through the implementation of its new Sustainability Action Plan to achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2020.

“The AM also has a responsibility to act sustainably and I’m proud to say we have already achieved significant energy savings including a 23% reduction in electricity consumption through mechanical upgrades, new energy efficient LED lighting across the building and better recycling and waste management processes,” Ms. McKay said.

“Our Sustainability Action Plan will ensure we continue to reduce our impact on the environment, embedding sustainability into all business practices across the Museum.”

Professor Flannery commences his year- long appointment this week. The Distinguished Visiting Fellow role is funded by the AM’s private donors.

ENDS

The AM 2019 Climate Change Statement is available at https://australianmuseum.net.au/learn/climate-change/

Media contact: Shirani Glover 02 9320 6086 / 0401 915 234 shirani.glover@austmus.gov.au