“We all have a responsibility to understand the impact of our activities on the environment. The decisions we make matter for the future of our environment and our liveability. Respecting and valuing each other and the role of science is fundamental for the future prosperity and environmental health of Victoria.”
Dr Gillian Sparkes AM
Dr Gillian Sparkes AM was appointed as Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability for Victoria in July 2014, having previously held senior roles with the Victorian Government including Chair of the Board of Sustainability Victoria, Deputy Secretary Corporate and Business Services for the Department of Sustainability and Environment and two terms as a Director of South Gippsland Water and Chair of the Board Environment Committee.
An experienced leader in complex stakeholder environments across multiple sectors, risks and settings through executive and non-executive roles, Dr Sparkes has a wealth of experience working with industry, community and government to care for and protect our environment. Dr Sparkes gained three decades of experience working in industries that interface with the environment and community, including in the manufacturing, industrial services, waste management and water industries, before becoming a senior public servant. This has enabled her to be an effective collaborator who has forged strong and productive partnerships between government, business, community and environmental stakeholders.
As Victoria’s Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Dr Sparkes has been leading reforms in environmental monitoring, assessment and reporting in Victoria, including advocating for better use of spatial information, data analytics and citizen science to help government respond better and faster to environmental events, population growth and climate risk. Victoria now has more independent reporting on the health of the environment by the Commissioner, with eight new statutory functions legislated over six years since 2015 - for the first time since the role was established in 2003. Dr Sparkes’ State of the Environment 2018 Report was tabled in the Victorian parliament on 19 March 2019 and includes 20 recommendations to the Victorian Government to help prioritise focus and effort over the next decade. It also establishes the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and System of Environmental-Economic Accounting as State of the Environment reporting frameworks for Victoria. Thirty of 31 recommendations from the three 2018 ‘state of environment’ statutory reports were accepted (in full, part or principle) by the Victorian Government.
Dr Sparkes holds a PhD in Applied Science (Chemistry), a Master of Business Administration, is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a National and Victorian Fellow of the Institute for Public Administration Australia, a member of the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand, the Royal Society of Victoria and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute.
Dr Sparkes is Chair of the Western Port Integrated Water Management Forum, a Member of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute Advisory Council, and holds a portfolio of board positions including the Industry Capability Network (Victoria), Chair of the Board of Frontier SI (formerly the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information), the Deputy Chair of the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation, and Commissioner of the Victorian Building Authority Board.
Dr Sparkes’ was recognized as one of Victoria’s Top 50 Public Sector Women in 2020 and appointed as a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia (General Division) in the Queen’s Birthday 2021 Honours “for significant services to environmental sustainability, and to public administration”.
The Governor-in-Council (the Governor and Premier of Victoria) appointed Dr Sparkes as a new Trustee of the Royal Society of Victoria as of 1 March 2022, to govern the use and upkeep of the land and buildings of The Royal Society of Victoria's heritage site in Melbourne's CBD.