Corey Peterson spent 16 years supporting science in Antarctica before emigrating to Tasmania. He has worked at the University of Tasmania since 2009, moving from Sustainability Officer to Chief Sustainability Officer, where he is now charged with advancing a holistic organisational sustainability agenda.

“I’ve always been interested in environmental issues from a very young age,” says Corey. “I love being outside in nature, you know, bushwalking, kayaking, all those sorts of things. So I think that affinity has always been there for me, and stayed with me as I pursued an education - starting with an undergraduate degree in biology and distributed science, and going on from there.”

After spending time cutting his teeth in various parts of the world, Corey realised his passion was in environmental sustainability rather than environmental management. The distinction being that where environmental management tries to minimise negative impacts, environmental sustainability seeks to maximise positive regenerative impact. Corey spent some time in Jakarta before making a big jump south.

“I don't do well around lots and lots and lots of people, so I avoid big cities. And so I went off to Antarctica to work instead, at a station with 43 people in the summer, and you know, less in the winter, and that's where I really realised the impact we were having on a planetary scale.” As the laboratory manager on the station, Corey had front row seats to the real-world evidence of climate change. “And one of my desks, where I was fixing microscopes, faced the glacier wall. And every year, it was just retreating faster and faster and faster, and I was watching it - it's an awe inspiring thing.”

Corey’s journey led him to settle down in Hobart in the mid-nineties, with a mandate to amplify sustainability messaging and influence policy in any way he could. As Chief Sustainability Officer at the University of Tasmania he can do both. “The University of Tasmania is very well known in Antarctic marine science. Through our Institute of Marine Antarctic studies, we have the highest percentage of IPCC authors anywhere in the world, and most of them in Hobart - which is quite interesting and very special for me to have access to these people.”

Corey notes that in addition to the personnel, the University as a whole is united behind sustainable outcomes. “I would posit within Australasia, if not globally, we’re known as a leader in sustainability. In the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking, we were number one for SDG 13, and globally we're ranked number 25 across all the SDGs. We're a Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System, otherwise known as STARS, gold rated institution, which is leading on the planet. We have platinum aspirations of which there are only 11 other universities that have achieved platinum and where we feel will be close within two years to getting that. And we have a vice chancellor and leadership team that is united in understanding the value of sustainability for our core mission. So that's research, teaching and learning, as well as our community impact in Tasmania, with global relevance.”

Discover more about Corey’s sustainability thinking, what we can do to reduce our impact, and what he thinks Antarctica will be like in 2072, by listening to the full podcast.