Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark delivered a speech on sustainable leadership, with the support of Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt. It was an awkward partnership, as Clark spoke of private support for the environment while Schmidt continues to avoid calls for the ANU to divest in fossil fuels.

Her speech, delivered on 18 July, entitled ‘The leadership we need – sustainable development challenges’ spoke of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the centrality of environmental protection to creating sustainable futures.

She spoke of the need for ‘domestic resource mobilisation and private investment on a very large scale’.

Matt Rogers, of the Fossil Free ANU lobby group, saw great irony in the vice-chancellor’s presence.

‘ANU is a public institution whose perspective carries a lot of weight. The vice-chancellor wants to hobnob with the global elite, riding around in his Tesla, but he is not prepared to take a principled stand to do anything towards the global leadership he claims to believe in.’

The ANU has continued to invest in fossil fuels, despite intense lobbying from students and the increasing prevalence of ethical investment programs, such as at Stanford University.

‘Last we spoke to Brian Schmidt he outright refused to agree to divest from fossil fuels, or agree to any timeline toward doing so,’ Rogers said.

The Annual Crawford Australian Leadership Forum took place at the ANU from the 18 to 20 June.

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