Dow Sustainability Program


The US Studies Centre established the Dow Sustainability Program in February 2010 with a commitment of US$3,000,000 over five years from the Dow Chemical Company Foundation in the United States.

The Dow Sustainability Program brought together academic and policy experts from Australia and the US to develop action-oriented solutions to a range of sustainability challenges concerning energy, water, food and biodiversity that are technologically innovative, commercially scalable and politically viable.

The program was led by The Honourable Robert Hill AC, Adjunct Professor in Sustainability at the US Studies Centre, former Minister for the Environment and former Ambassador to the United Nations.

The Dow Sustainability Program was advised by a group of international experts and leveraged the considerable academic resources in the agricultural, environmental, life and physical sciences of the University of Sydney and other universities in Australia and the US. 


Alternative Transport Fuels Initiative

The Alternative Transport Fuels Initiative was led by Dr Susan Pond AM, Adjunct Professor at the US Studies Centre. The Initiative promoted the development of cost-competitive advanced biofuels as part of the transport energy mix in Australia, particularly for sectors with critical needs, such as aviation, resources, defence and shipping and of the appropriate policy levers that might encourage accelerated take up.

The United States is at the leading edge of the advanced biofuels industry with experience addressing the challenges of wider-scale commercialisation, including price, supply chains, policy settings and investment attraction. The Alternative Transport Fuels Initiative worked with US experts to accelerate progress in the Australian biofuels industry.

Soil Carbon Initiative

The Soil Carbon Initiative was established in 2010 with the aim to bring focus to global soil degradation — a major impediment to sustainable development. Often the vital connection between soil, food security, and biodiversity conservation has been overlooked in policy discussions both in Australia and the United States, in favour of other environmental and agricultural priorities.

The Soil Carbon Initiative aimed to build bridges between science, policy, and agricultural industry sectors to develop public policy solutions to address this issue. The initiative was led by Andrea Koch.

Comparative Groundwater Law and Policy Program

The Comparative Groundwater Law and Policy Program was a joint initiative of the US Studies Centre, the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University.

Led by Dr Rebecca Nelson, the program consisted of research and international symposia, focusing on the legal and policy aspects of integrated groundwater management. 

Australia-United States Climate, Energy and Water Nexus Project

The Australia-United States Climate, Energy and Water Nexus Project (AUSCEW) was a three-year collaboration between the US Studies Centre and the Australian National University.

The project was led by Dr Jamie Pittock and aimed to identify the links between climate, energy and water policies to avoid perverse impacts and favour mutually beneficial solutions across sectors.

Urban Environments Program

The Centre has focused on the intersection between urban planning policy and the environment from Australian and US perspectives since 2009. The Urban Environments Program began in 2010 with the aim of informing and stimulating urban planning debate and policy development by engaging industry, community, and government from the United States and Australia. 

Sandy Burgoyne, working closely with Professor Edward Blakely, led the Urban Environments Program from 2010 to 2012.


Project Team


Professor The Honourable Robert Hill AC
Adjunct Professor in Sustainability | Director of the Dow Sustainability Program

Robert Hill was appointed an adjunct professor in Sustainability at the Centre in 2009. Prior to this, he was the Australian ambassador to the United Nations (2006–2009). From 1981–2006, Hill represented his home state of South Australia in the Australian Senate and was the minister for defence (2001–06), minister for the environment and heritage (1998–2001), and minister for the environment (1996–98). In July 2009, Hill was appointed the inaugural chair of the Australian Carbon Trust. He was chancellor of the University of Adelaide and is now chair of the CRC for Low Carbon Living at the University of New South Wales and chair of the Institute for Global Change at the University of Queensland. Hill holds a master's in law from the London School of Economics, an arts and law bachelor degree from the University of Adelaide, and a doctor of laws (honoris causa) from the University of Adelaide.




Professor Susan Pond AM, FTSE
Program Leader, Alternative Transport Fuels Initiative 20102015

Immediately before joining the Dow Program, Susan Pond was a senior executive with Johnson & Johnson for 12 years and an experienced company director, including as chairman of AusBiotech. Pond was appointed an adjunct professor at the University of Sydney in 1997 and transferred this appointment to the Centre in 2010. Pond holds a degree in medicine from the University of Sydney (MBBS Hons 1), first higher degree (MD) at the University of New South Wales, and second higher degree (DSc) at the University of Queensland. In 2013, Pond was named as one of the Australian Financial Review and Westpac Top 100 Women of Influence. Pond has been director and vice-president of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering since 2010.


Andrea Koch
Program Leader, Soil Carbon Initiative 20102015 

Andrea Koch has 20 years of corporate marketing and product development experience in the information technology, telecommunications, and media industries, including with IBM Australia, Optus Communications, Optus Vision and News Limited. Koch grew up in a fifth generation Australian farming family and in 2005 she made a career shift to focus on sustainability, with emphasis on her area of passion: food and agriculture. Koch is passionate about bridging the gap between farmers, consumers, business, and policymakers to bring soil and agriculture into a renewed place of understanding and recognition. She firmly believes that technology will bring about the sustainable agriculture future that society seeks. She works to apply her expertise in technology development and her knowledge of soil and agriculture to develop sustainable solutions from the policy level through to practical application. She holds a master's in sustainable development from Macquarie University and a bachelor of business (marketing) from the University of South Australia.


Dr Rebecca Nelson
Program Leader, Comparative Groundwater Law and Policy Program 20112014

Rebecca Nelson formerly worked as a lawyer at the Murray–Darling Basin Authority, and in 2014 was named Law Council of Australia’s Young Environmental Lawyer of the Year for her contribution to water law and environmental law. She holds a doctor of the science of law from Stanford University, a master’s in law (Stanford), and BE (Environmental) and LLB (University of Melbourne). Nelson is currently a senior fellow at Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne; a fellow (non-resident) of the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University; and a practising lawyer and policy consultant. From 2016, she will be a senior lecturer at the Melbourne Law School and the International Association of Hydrogeologists (Australia) distinguished lecturer for 2016. Nelson is also a director of Bush Heritage Australia.


Dr Jamie Pittock
Program Leader, Australia-United States Climate, Energy and Water Nexus 2010–2014

Jamie Pittock is an associate professor at the Fenner School of Environment and Society and director of International Programs at the Australian National University (ANU). He is also the UNESCO chair in water economics and trans-boundary water governance. Pittock has a background in zoology and geography, and from 1989–2001 worked for various non-government environmental organisations in Australia promoting nature conservation. In particular, he led World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) advocacy for new Australian environmental laws, which were enacted in 1999. Prior to joining the Dow Program, Pittock was a WWF Research Associate from 2007–2010, undertaking PhD research on freshwater ecosystems and climate change at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, ANU. From 2001–2007 he was the director of WWF's Global Freshwater Programme.  


Dr Edward Blakely
Chair, Future Cities Collaborative | Honorary Professor in Urban Policy 

Edward Blakely previously served for two years as executive director of the Office of Recovery and Development Administration — the “recovery czar” for New Orleans following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. One of the world’s leading scholars and practitioners of urban planning, Blakely has been dean of the School of Urban Planning and Development at the University of Southern California and dean of the Robert J. Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy, New School University in New York City. He has also held professional appointments at the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Southern California; and the University of Sydney. Blakely’s extensive record of public service includes advising the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and state and federal governments in Australia and the United States, as well as governments in South Korea, Japan, Sweden, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Vietnam. A Fulbright Scholar, Blakely earned his bachelors at the University of California Riverside, an MA in Latin American history at the University of California, Berkeley, and a PhD in education and management at the University of California, Los Angeles.  


Sandy Burgoyne
Program Leader, Urban Environments Program 2011-2012 

Sandy Burgoyne has 20 years of corporate experience in developing and leading business strategy, marketing, change, and business transformation within the telecommunications, information technology, retail service, and not-for-profit sectors. In 2007, Burgoyne returned to her passion of urban and physical geography to apply her commercial skills and focus her career on the collaboration between industry, government, and community to develop sustainable communities. She is currently the director of the Future Cities Collaborative, where she works to inspire and develop city leaders to build great cities by bringing together innovative policy approaches, research, and practice to the urban challenges they face. Burgoyne holds a master of sustainable development from Macquarie University and bachelor of arts (geography) and bachelor of education from Flinders University of South Australia.



See also:

 Back to top


Gorana Grgic

US to deploy 100 special forces to Iraq

Lecturer Gorana Grgic discusses the deployment of 100 US special operations troops to Iraq on Sky News.

Tom Switzer

Breaking down Obama's speech on terrorism

Research associate Tom Switzer discusses President Obama's speech on terrorism on Bloomberg TV.

Join our mailing list   Follow us on Facebook   Watch us on YouTube   Join the conversation on Twitter
Connect with us on LinkedIn   View our photos on Flickr   See what we're up to on Instagram   Subscribe to our RSS feeds