As a state MP for 15 years and Victoria’s deputy premier from 1999 to 2007, John Thwaites was constantly in the public eye but after politics he has flourished in academia as a sustainability advocate.
Professor Thwaites, 65, has been made a member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2021 Australia Day honours, “for significant service to the environment, and to the people and Parliament of Victoria”.
As chair of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute at Monash University and the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, he sees himself as a bridge between researchers, government and business.
The Institute works in Australia and Asia on climate action, sustainable cities and developing a more environmentally conscious approach to water management.
The Institute’s offshoot, ClimateWorks Australia, which Professor Thwaites also chairs, is helping Australian states, companies and some Asian countries commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The Institute is working with scientists, farmers, agribusiness and farm finance bodies on ways to make land use and food production more sustainable.
Professor Thwaites said the AM “does reflect that I’ve had some great opportunities to work on issues that matter, both in politics and at Monash University”.