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Peter Cuming, Sustainable Futures Australia

Peter CumingPeter Cuming has been focused on and promoting sustainable living since the late 1970’s. This has included being an activist protecting landscapes and coastlines from inappropriate development, working closely with Aboriginal communities, establishing and coordinating community markets and social service organisations, as well as being politically and professionally active from a local to international level for the past 30 years.

This includes being an elected NSW Local Government Councillor, serving on and chairing NSW government boards and advisory committees related to river management, catchment and biodiversity management; hospital and schools management, and regional development. Peter is an Executive member of the East Asian Regional Organisation for Planning Sustainable Settlements (EAROPH), Australia

Over the past 20 years Peter has been establishing Foresthaven, a sustainability education and workshop centre, food forests and regenerating native bush and waterways on 6ha in Maclean, northern NSW. This has included relocating, restoring and retrofitting 3 classic timber houses as examples of retaining and protecting embodied energy and cultural values.

Peter founded the consultancy group, Sustainable Futures Australia (SFA) in 1987, as a platform to engage communities in major environmental and social project work and influence policy and decision-making towards more sustainable focused outcomes. SFA based in Byron Bay, NSW, is a award-winning team of multi-disciplinary consultants specialising in sustainability and environmental planning, design and education, communication and e-learning processes.


As managing director, Peter has been engaged in a wide range of projects involving corporate policy development, strategic planning and integrated resource management, preparing coastal management, open space and eco-tourism plans, biodiversity strategies, rural and urban planning, communication strategies and strategic business and governance plans. Peter has created award-winning and innovative sustainability planning and community facilitation models in use today by local, state and national government in Australia and overseas. These processes focus on providing necessary organisational, social and institutional changes to meet challenges such as climate change, environmental awareness, sustainable settlement planning, community development and sustainable living.

Projects include integrated and collaborative planning, reporting and action frameworks for cities, communities and organisations; strategies and implementation plans for transition and transformative planning and policy. As a facilitator of community-government partnerships he guides and assists government, national and international agencies in developing long-term strategic plans, policy and guidelines based on sustainability principles. Stakeholder engagement, decision-making and planning processes are established to support this collaborative planning work involving business, community and government.

Recent work Peter has been doing in this area includes assisting Petaling Jaya, a city heading towards a population of a million people adjacent to Kuala Lumpar in Malaysia, in developing a Liveable City 2030 strategic plan, and collaborative planning process to engage community stakeholders in this work and in making decisions on future development of the city. Back in Australia Peter has been assisting a number of cities in metropolitan Sydney and regional NSW in similar actions.

Peter has been a senior lecturer for the School for International Training since 2000, delivering sustainability workshops to, and advising university students from across the USA, as part of the course, Sustainability and Environmental Action for Social Change. He has also recently been involved as a mentor in a NSW local government sustainability mentoring program.

Peter has been working in Western Australia since 1995, assisting local and state government with sustainable settlement planning and policy development, local communities in future visioning and strategic planning, delivering sustainable settlement training and advising landholders on sustainable living and property plans, particularly in the south-west of WA.

A range of key project briefs from his work program in recent years include:

  • Cross-cultural programs and planning with Aboriginal communities including re-invigorating cultural awareness programs and establishing a cultural learning website for the Arakwal people of Byron Bay (, and the award-winning ‘Water Walks’ and ‘Reconnecting to Country’ project with the Widjabul people, Lismore, NSW
  • Co-author and principal trainer for the NSW Local Government Sustainability Health Check (SHC) in conjunction with Local Government Managers Aust. NSW and NSW Dept of Environment, Conservation and Climate Change - presented to Councils across NSW.
  • Facilitating key regional infrastructure (water and sewerage) project planning including full term design reference group processes involving key stakeholders and government agencies, Clarence Valley Council, Rous Water (NSW) and the NSW Government.
  • Created award-winning sustainability frameworks and training programs for Local Government incl. Lismore City, Pittwater, Wyong, Hornsby, Great Lakes, and Byron Shire Councils, in NSW facilitating community-planning processes, developing strategic plans
  • Facilitator - state policy review - West Australian Sustainable Agriculture and Land Use Planning Policies (based on climate change), WA Department of Agriculture and Food.
  • Established Sustainability Initiatives including review, reporting, and assessment process for organisations. eg. Clarence Valley Council – including facilitating cross council working group. Recipient of NSW Local Government Gold Sustainability Award.
  • Facilitated ‘Queensland Sustainability Education’ Roundtable, and establishment of inaugural Queensland Youth Environment Council for Queensland Government.
  • Facilitated and prepared statewide strategic plan for the Queensland Environmentally Sustainable Schools Initiative (QESSI) for Queensland Government.
  • Facilitated and prepared global sustainability education strategic plan: UN forum European, Asian nations, Canada, Australia (International Environment Schools Initiative)
  • Sustainable rural settlement planning, residential and tourism development for a range of government and private clients (NSW, Western Australia, Indonesia, and New Zealand)
  • Co-author of award-winning business plan to develop sustainable communities and protect globally-threatened tropical rainforest and support custodians the Disobai Nari, Papua-New Guinea (with Focus Planning, for the British High Commission).
  • Created a sustainable planning approach for World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island, including integrated GIS mapping and sustainable settlement ands rural land use scenario (NSW Minister for Planning and the Lord Howe Is Board)
  • Environmental planning and sustainability design co-ordinator for a major coastal urban and eco-tourism development - Yamba, Northern NSW (Australia) valued at A$66million.