March 7, 2024

Ellen Cox: making waves in Australia’s first water quality market #IWD24

Ellen Cox is a Project Partnerships Manager with GreenCollar, Australia’s largest environmental investor and project developer. Based in lush tropical Cairns, Ellen works with landholders running Reef Credit Projects throughout North Queensland.

All Reef Credit Projects are a partnership between landholders and project managers, experienced with implementing environmental projects. Project managers help assess a project’s feasibility and develop Reef Credit Projects that complement the activity on a landholder’s property, taking into account local conditions.

Growing up in Mackay and helping on her family’s cattle property, Ellen’s success draws upon her experiences of both farming and professional life, and her passion for sustainability.

What do you do to help improve the water quality in the Great Barrier Reef?

I work with landholders who are changing their land management practices to improve water quality runoff to the Great Barrier Reef through Reef Credit projects.

Why is helping the Reef important to you?

Having lived most of my life in North Queensland, it’s a privilege to work at the forefront of regenerative agriculture to support our local communities and the Great Barrier Reef. Protection of the Reef is an urgent and important issue.

Without an innovative and thriving agricultural industry, our small towns and quality of life in the regions would also be threatened. We have the world’s best reef, rainforest and landscapes – so we need to keep innovating to make sure it’s all still here and being enjoyed by future generations.

What have been some challenges in your role?

It’s a cliché, but sometimes as a woman it can be hard to be taken seriously in male dominated industries, such as agriculture. Overall, it’s been really good, with only a couple of exceptions. I’d imagine what I’ve experienced is much easier compared to five to 10 years ago.

How did you overcome that cliché?

Learning the lingo and showing up. It takes time and consistency to build trust, so keeping up the communication and doing what you’ll say you’ll do – and hopefully the results will speak for themselves.

I am lucky to have had two amazing female managers at GreenCollar. They’ve shown me the way and been a great support when tricky situations arise.

In the wider agricultural industry, there are a lot of women out there doing revolutionary things and in strong leadership positions. This really helps to break stereotypes about what women can achieve.

Who inspires you?

I’m inspired by our project partners – innovative farmers and land managers who are making changes to their practices. They’re trialing different ways to improve their environmental footprint, taking calculated risks while balancing looking after their business and families. This kind of initiative and forward thinking will help farming and our regional communities have a strong future.

What advice would you give other women in the industry?

Give it a go, get out there and talk to people rather than staying in the office. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.

What else can we do to accelerate water quality improvements for the Great Barrier Reef?

Greater dialogue, more genuine engagement and open discussions between the everyone involved in Reef water quality, ranging from farmers, fishers, NRMs, environmentalists, scientists and governments, to build a greater understanding of the different perspectives, needs and motivations.

Thank you, Ellen for sharing your story.

For more information about Eco-Markets Australia and participating in the Reef Credit Scheme, please explore our website.