Great Barrier Reef Foundation ZooX Ambassador Program Development

In 2008, Energetics established a pro bono relationship with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (the Foundation), to help the Foundation develop the ZooX Ambassador Program. The program is an engagement program which exposes the Foundation’s ZooX Fund investor companies employees’ to the Reef’s ecology and its vulnerability to climate change. Appointing company Ambassadors to implement projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is central to the program.

Key Facts

Client: Great Barrier Reef Foundation
Project: Assisting the Foundation to develop the ZooX Ambassador Program and providing ongoing support to ambassador field trips
Lead consultant: Tony Cooper
Year: 2008 – present
Outcomes: 46 Ambassador projects underway, 8 productive field trips over four years, 116 ZooX Ambassadors have successfully completed the program, Increase in number of participating companies each year to 7 in 2011



The Foundation is a non-for-profit organisation, providing funding for research that protects and preserves the Great Barrier Reef, particularly in the face of climate change.

Anchoring employee engagement to environmental initiatives

Designed as a powerful employee engagement tool for the Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s ZooX Fund investors, the ZooX Ambassador Program is delivered through an initial educational e-tutorial, helping employees understand the impact of climate change on  coral reefs, is followed by a three day reef-based immersion program in the field, at the University of Queensland’s Heron Island Research Station, and is completed with the implementation of Ambassadors’ sustainability projects back in the workplace.

Our relationships with our partners are what sets this program apart. Energetics have been right by our side providing expert and experienced sustainability practitioner input from the start – it what really puts the wind under workplace projects and helps the program earn its exceptional reputation.

Shay O’Hara-Smith, ZooX Ambassador Program Director, GBRF

Energetics has been a key partner of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s ZooX Ambassador Program, providing pro bono support, administering the program’s online annual ambassador search as well as playing a key role in workshop presentation during the Reef field trip. Energetics is an active participant in the program as a ZooX Fund contributor.
Each year potential ambassadors nominate for the ZooX Ambassador Program using a customised application process which allows participating organisations to select up to five ambassadors to travel to the Reef for three days of hands-on learning.

While on the Reef, ZooX Ambassadors, with assistance from Energetics, develop substantive individual or team projects to address climate change issues, to be implemented upon returning to their workplace.

Learn. Empower. Engage

Energetics assisted the Great Barrier Reef Foundation with the development of a program that focused on how individuals can learn and become empowered to address climate change. Central to the message is the positive impact the individual can have on their own organisation, how their organisation’s actions implicitly can support the remit of the Foundation and consequently how these activities can have a positive effect on reducing the impact of climate change on the Reef.

There is direct feedback to the individual who takes action on climate change as illustrated in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1 Individual's learning and feedback

Our approach to assisting the Foundation with program design

Energetics worked closely with the GBRF in the initial phases of program development ensuring that the design met the Foundation’s objectives, engaged with ambassadors’ pre / during / post Reef visit, delivered appropriate documented procedures to support project implementation post Reef visit, and achieved member company participation by adding value to their employee engagement activities and outcomes.

The program was developed to appeal to a broad group of people across various industries and company types with a common interest in climate change.

Energetics developed technology and processes to assist the Foundation with the roll-out of the ZooX Ambassador Program.

Key elements of Energetics ongoing participation in the ZooX Ambassador program includes:

  • Hosting the online survey enabling participating companies to easily shortlist applicants.
  • Participating in pre-field trip workshops to prepare ambassadors for activities on the Reef and empower them to identify implementable projects which will deliver real climate change outcomes.
  • Facilitating field trip workshops covering topics on leadership through sustainability, dealing with climate change sceptics, best practice examples and what action business should be taking, and closing with a workshop to assist ambassadors in developing practical ‘back to work’ projects that they can then implement, aiming to have a tangible, positive effect on the reef.
  • Establishing project development and tracking spreadsheets which enable the ambassadors to develop implementable projects while on the Reef, and track and report on their projects when they return to their workplace.

Employee comments

“The trip to the Great Barrier Reef was AMAZING! We were immersed in nature - beautiful coral, turtles laying their eggs on the beach at night and the early morning call of millions of birds."

“Nothing could make the call for action on climate change more relevant and important, and I came back more inspired and driven than ever!"

Great Barrier Reef Foundation ZooX Ambassador Program outcomes

Since 2008, 116 ambassadors and a number of senior executives from 7 leading companies have participated in the program. The participants have lead and developed 46 individual and group sustainability projects resulting in a positive impact on climate change, and thus a positive effect for the Reef.

Participating companies include BHP Billiton MetCoal, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Energetics, KPMG, Qantas Airways, Telstra, and the GPT Group.

46 workplace projects, developed by Ambassadors over four years of the program (2008-2011) are currently in various stages of implementation. Types of projects include:

  • Technology change – rethinking plant / equipment – 9 projects
  • Management systems and processes (including awareness raising) – 22 projects
  • Improved control (reduced idle times / reducing load) – 1 project
  • Efficiency and waste minimisation (improved management of physical materials, including water / paper / power) –14 projects

Led by Program Director, Shay O’Hara-Smith, the Foundation’s ZooX faculty, whose members include Energetics founder, Jonathan Jutsen, Group General Manager, Mary Stewart and Principal Consultant, Rob Sims, join eminent scientists and very senior business leaders, to deliver a program focused on committed support to Ambassadors to ensure the ongoing success of the program.

Energetics has always aspired to have a positive impact on the environment and is proud to be a pro bono partner supporting the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. The ZAP aligns with our corporate values and enables us to walk the talk and act as climate change leader to our clients.