Our Advisors

The Hub is guided by a panel of climate related experts who make up of the Climate Hub Advisory Panel (CHAP). Our panel members span across a range of disciplines from legal to finance, insurance, tourism, agriculture and climate adaptation. They act as representatives from local business networks and national industries and help to direct the focus of the Hub. 

Donovan Burton
  • Donovan is a climate change adaptation specialist with a diverse portfolio of experience, having completed more than 150 climate change risk and adaptation projects. He is focused on influencing change adaptation governance through disruptive technology, big data and the internet of things. Much of Don’s current focus and research is on the connection between climate change, future technologies and big data analytics to better understand the barriers and enablers to change. His work utilises applied and empirical research to support climate change policy and informed decision-making.  

    Over the past decade Donovan has helped numerous organisations identify risks and opportunities associated with climate change. Don’s sector experience in this space includes insurance, property development, infrastructure (including roads, rail, ports, tunnels), information communication technology, working with the United Nations, national governments, state governments, local governments, NGOs and research organisations. 

Justine Bell-James
  • Dr Justine Bell-James is an Associate Professor with The University of Queensland (UQ) and completed her PhD with the Queensland University of Technology on sustainable land management in 2010. Justine currently teaches environmental and property law at UQ and researches legal mechanisms for the protection of the coast under climate change. Her past research covers a range of fields including legal, policy and insurance responses to coastal hazards and sea-level rise. A particular area of interest for Justine is how the law can facilitate ‘blue carbon’ projects in Australia and overseas.

    Justine’s current research looks more broadly at ecosystem services provided by wetlands (i.e. more than just carbon storage) and how we can protect these by law. Currently, most ecosystem services aren’t well recognised in legal frameworks, and her research is considering why this is the case.

    Get to know Justine by checking out the below interview! 

    Q & A with Justine

Rod Ferguson
  • Rod Ferguson has over 40 years of experience within regional local governments in Queensland including over 20 years in CEO roles, and is now the CEO of Whitsunday Regional Council. 

    Mr Ferguson led the amalgamation of the Southern Downs Regional Council in 2008 and in 2013 was appointed by the state government to lead the de-amalgamation of the Mareeba Shire Council. 

    For the past five years Mr Ferguson has worked with a variety of regional Councils across the state in both a consultancy role and as Director/CEO in short term contract arrangements. 

    Rod has demonstrated proven ability to effectively manage large, complex teams and build strong relationships across government, industry, business and community.

    Get to know Rod by checking out the below interview! 

    Q & A with Rod

Michael Porter
  • Michael is the Manager of the Proserpine Cane Growers. Michael first came to the region in 1995 and his 20 plus years experience in banking and finance saw him open and manage the first NAB branch in Airlie Beach. In addition to his role as the Manager of the Proserpine Canegrowers, Michael is also the company secretary for Sugar Services Proserpine, Kelsey Creek Water Co-operative and Six Mile Irrigators Co-operative. 

    Michael is also heavily involved with the Whitsunday community acting as Deputy Chair of Whitsunday Community Enterprises and the Proserpine Chamber of Commerce. 

    Get to know Michael by checking out the below interview! 

    Q & A with Michael

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  • Sharanjit is the Head of Environmental Risk at QBE Insurance Group and is a consulting actuary with over 20 years' experience in general insurance and accident compensation. He acted as appointed actuary to four Australian insurers and reinsurers.  He has advised various accident compensations in Australia and New Zealand, corporates that self-insure workers compensation, and federal and state government departments. 

    Sharanjit is known for bringing actuarial methods to new industries, such as valuing biodiversity credits for threatened species, assessing the economic impact of climate change on financial service providers, and developing methods to measure social impact. 

Stephen Williams
  • Stephen (Steve) Williams is a Professor in the College of Marine and Environmental Science, James Cook University, Australia. His research has focussed on field-based ecology, understanding biodiversity, assessing the resilience of natural ecosystems to environmental change and using this knowledge to maximize the positive benefits of conservation management and adaptation. Steve was one of the first to identify global climate change as a severe threatening process to biodiversity in the tropics, especially in mountain ecosystems.

    In 2006, he started the Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change at James Cook University and was the inaugural Director for the first six years. He was lead author of the Australian National Adaptation Research Plan for Natural Ecosystems and was the Director of the Australian Adaptation Network for Natural Ecosystems (marine, terrestrial, freshwater) within the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF).  He has over 130 publications and, with more than 25,000 peer review citations, he is one of the most-cited global change biologists. 

    Get to know Stephen by checking out the below interview! 

    Q & A with Stephen

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  • Susanne is the Director of Griffith Institute for Tourism. She is an expert in tourism and global change and understands the challenge of facilitating business and community prosperity, whilst minimising resource use and environmental or social impacts. Susanne has published widely and has provided advice to government, industry and international organisations. Her focus of research is on tourism and climate change, resource use, resilience and risk management, sustainable consumption, and environmental policy for tourism. 

    Susanne leads projects that span the full spectrum of scientific research, science communication and knowledge transfer, and implementation into practical outcomes. Also, she works closely with both public and private sector partners and stakeholders. 

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  • Growing up in the Whitsunday region, Chris has more than 13 years’ experience in engineering and management and is currently the General Manager of Premise Mackay and Whitsundays division. His team delivers to both public sector and infrastructure clients, working on everything from airports to water treatments, and road design and assessment. He has managed many Premise projects, including the Cannonvale Bulk Water Supply for Whitsunday Regional Council. Chris also sits on the Urban Development Institute of Australia’s Mackay Whitsunday Branch Committee. 

    As Regional Manager for North QLD, Chris works primarily in our local area, but has involvement in projects around North Queensland and PNG. A lot of his regional role involves working with local developers in the Airlie Beach area, as well as road design with the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

    Get to know Chris by checking out the below interview! 

    Q & A with Chris

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  • Dorean Erhart has worked in the climate change space for years, most recently as a lead at the Local Government Association for Queensland (LGAQ) providing state and national representation on behalf of Queensland Local Governments.

    In big news, Dorean recently stepped down from her role at LGAQ and has founded her own company - Linden Climate Advisory - where she aims to support corporations and private and public organisations in their quest to become climate risk responsive.

    Dorean’s most influential work includes, the Queensland Climate Resilient Councils and QCoast2100 programs, the Reef Council Rescue Plan and the Coastal Councils Adaptation Taskforce (C-CAT). She has also co-authored several climate risk management guidelines and support documents for local governments.

    Get to know Dorean by checking out the below interview! 

    Q & A with Dorean