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USQ Professor takes out Premier’s Award

Professor John Cole (right) receives his award from Premier Campbell Newman

Decades of work promoting business innovation for sustainable development was recognised when Professor John Cole received the major award at the 2012 Premier’s Sustainability Awards.

Professor Cole, who heads up the Australian Centre for Sustainable Business and Development (ACSBD) at the University of Southern Queensland, was presented with his prestigious award by Queensland Premier Campbell Newman at a gala ceremony in Brisbane at the weekend.

The audience heard that Professor Cole has made an outstanding contribution to business sustainability in Queensland for nearly 30 years.

Professor Cole is well known nationally and overseas for his leadership and advice on sustainable development particularly through business innovation and public-private sector collaboration and partnerships.

He has a diverse 25-year background in industry and government including 10 years as a founding Executive Director of Queensland’s Environmental Protection Agency and founding Chief Executive of the Environment Management Industry Association of Australia (EMIAA).

He currently leads a team of research staff, postdoctoral fellows and PhD students at USQ in developing innovative business models and technologies to help make sustainable development a reality.

Ironically, it was Professor Cole who as head of the EPA’s Sustainable Industries Division established Queensland’s Sustainability Awards about seven years ago.

‘I didn’t expect in my wildest dreams that I would one day win the major award,’ he said.

‘I feel like a painter who has ended up in the painting.’

Professor Cole said the award reflected positively not only on his work, but also on the research being done by USQ.

‘After spending 10 years in the Queensland Government I came up to USQ because I could see the importance of developing research in the area of innovation for sustainability.’

‘USQ appealed to me because it has a strong focus on sustainability. Certainly, a university like USQ is a great place to find answers.’

‘The work the Centre (ACSBD) is doing is really going to make a difference.’

The ACSBD has gone from strength to strength, recently winning major projects including one with Brisbane City Council’s CitySmart and Rio Tinto Alcan.

But Professor Cole said he and his team also worked with many small businesses, including some that have also been recognised by the Queensland Government.

‘We give advice to people and businesses about how to plot their own pathway to achieving sustainable development,’ he said.

Recently it was announced Professor Cole will move into the position of Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation at USQ.

This position will play a key role in the University’s strategic plans for research and make full use of all potential research resources.

Photo: Courtesy of Department of Environment and Heritage Protection

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