Dr Sparkes is Victoria’s (Australia) Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, an independent statutory role that reports and advises government and the community on the environment. She is pioneering the implementation of the UN SDGs into environmental reporting for Victoria and is leading reforms in environmental monitoring, evaluation, assessment and reporting, in particular working to maximise the value and potential of spatial data to review and report on the condition of Victoria’s environment.
Initially an industrial chemist, Dr Sparkes’ career spans four decades across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. Her non-executive roles include Chair of FrontierSI (the former Collaborative Research Centre for Spatial Information) and board member of the Country Fire Authority (CFA), Industry Capability Network (Victoria) and the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation.
As Chair of Frontier SI, Dr Sparkes is a member of the 2030 Space and Spatial Industry Growth Roadmap Steering Group supporting the growth of the space and spatial industries in Australia. Through this work, Gillian is a strong advocate for the transformative potential of the space and spatial sectors for economic growth and dealing with complex environmental issues associated with pressures such as climate change, urbanisation and population growth.
Recognised as a leader of transformation and policy reform, Dr Sparkes’ pragmatic rather than purist approach has challenged traditional models of environmental reporting. “The main game for our work is rewiring the environmental monitoring and reporting system in Victoria,” she says. “Moving to getting the data we need, not just the data that we can get to inform policy and practice.”