A Torquay environmental advocate has been instrumental in protecting coastal Victoria through volunteering and creating the Surf Coast Energy Group (SCEG).
Graeme Stockton, 58, formed the SCEG in 2007 to get the local community involved in tackling climate change and addressing sustainability issues.
Mr Stockton was an early pioneer for environmental volunteering and “mobilised a lot of people in the community around the impacts of climate change,” said environmental consultant Jaclyn Scally.
One of the SCEG’s latest successes was helping to secure $10 million for a renewable energy program in the Corangamite region, said Mr Stockton.
Mr Stockton is also the chairman of Surfers Appreciating the Natural Environment (SANE) and a committee member of Jan Juc Coast Action.
In these organisations Mr Stockton’s responsibility is to set the work agenda to approach funding and advocate for better management operations.
Over the years SANE advocated for the Bells Beach reserve to be a part of The Greater Otway National Park and were instrumental in creating Point Addis Marine National Park.
Mr Stockton said while working in horticulture looking at coastal degradation, he “thought, this is a tragedy, but there’s nothing I can do.”
A “fortuitous” meeting kick-started Mr Stockton’s involvement with SANE, and since then he has “demonstrated what one person can do if they are passionate and motivated,” said Mrs Scally.
He cited a quote by the celebrated cultural anthropologist, Margret Mead: “don’t expect an individual can never make a difference, because indeed they’re the only ones who ever have.”
Mr Stockton said population pressure was the major environmental problem at a local level, as the continued increase in demand “applies so much pressure to the area”.
To protect the environment we needed to know “what that area can service without being degraded,” said Mr Stockton.
By looking at limitations of growth and tourism growth, management programs can be put in place to ensure we do not “degrade all of the eco systems,” he said.
He said the biggest obstacle in advocating for change was to convince the public “that what you’re doing matters and that their behavior has a huge impact on the final outcome.”
Individuals can make a difference by becoming involved in their local community on issues around climate change and sustainability.
At the local level Stockton has been an influential factor in improving environmental conditions through his involvement with the SCEG, SANE and Jan Juc Coast Action.