Future climate leaders to the stage in upcoming Wattle Spotlight events


From VR gaming to political music performances and native bee hotels, young students are developing unique climate solutions for our future.  

A series of Wattle Spotlight events in May will showcase the work of a powerful network of young changemakers who are implementing multidisciplinary approaches to climate solutions and global sustainability leadership. 

Hosted by the Wattle Fellowship and The University of Melbourne, the Spotlight events will see Wattle fellows and alumni deliver their innovative responses to the climate crisis from May 7 to 9.

“The world urgently needs sustainability leaders who can work across disciplines to drive effective solutions and policy change for the climate challenges we are facing,” said Wattle Fellowship Director, Linh Do. 

Established in 2021, the Wattle Fellowship was seeded by a $750,000 gift (with a matched funding pledge of $2.5 million) from the McCall MacBain Foundation, in support of fostering leadership opportunities for young people in global sustainability. 

The fellowship, a year-long co-curricula program from The University of Melbourne, supports students to bring sustainability action projects to life, build leadership skills and network with a community of change-makers.

“The unique approach of the Wattle Fellowship is designed to respond to climate challenges. From law to music and healthcare to zoology, we must encourage young people eager to drive innovative sustainability leadership in every sector,” says Do. 

The fellowship’s alumni and graduating fellows have developed a plethora of unique projects, including:

  • Pamudika Kiridena is using virtual-reality gaming to help people visualise – and take action against – the climate crisis. She has created a VR game for school students that shines a light on our ecosystem’s interconnectedness and environmental health. 
  • Clancy Lester is building backyard hotels for our threatened native bee species. He’s installed 100+ bee hotels in suburban areas to bring the biodiversity of the bush to urban environments.
  • Rob McIntyre is turning a real-life climate litigation case into an award-winning classical music composition. Combining his post-grad law degree with his bachelor of music, the Wattle Fellowship has helped Rob become a multi-faceted, cross-disciplinary composer.

Pamudika said the Fellowship helped her connect with industry professionals (in workshops and events like SXSW) and financially support the development for a demo of her VR game. She admits that before last year, “I never thought of myself as a leader.”

“The fellowship’s leadership development helped me to understand what a leader actually is, that I can be one and gave me more confidence to take stronger action, pursue projects and make a positive impact,” she said. “Working closely with a group of people building such a diversity of solutions for a collective goal also helped me to stay motivated.”

From Melbourne, regional Australia, Ghana, Israel, Indonesia & Chile, the Wattle Fellowship is giving a diverse range of undergraduate and postgraduate students the confidence and toolset they need to start taking action while still at university. 

“Whether at the beginning of their career or currently employed, this fellowship develops skills and expertise in effectively creating social change, systems thinking, Indigenous perspectives and leadership practice. Understanding these concepts allows them to test out climate solutions,” says Do.

Wattle is encouraging the public to attend its upcoming Spotlight Events to hear ideas and sustainability projects from the next generation of climate leaders and changemakers.

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