Dunphy Award - EDO NSW

Emma Carmody: recipient of the 2018 Dunphy Award

Dr Emma Carmody, EDO NSW water law expert, has won the Dunphy Award for “most outstanding environmental effort of an individual” at the 2018 Environment Awards hosted by the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.

20 October 2018

Emma [seen on the Darling River at Tilpa in August] was unable to attend the ceremony as she is currently in Dubai providing legal advice to the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. She sent the following acceptance speech, which was strongly applauded when read out on her behalf.


"There is only one continent on Earth with less fresh water than Australia – Antarctica. This, coupled with the inevitable impacts of climate change on water quality and quantity, makes the management of our rivers and aquifers as much a moral issue as an environmental one. It also makes it a legal one, with lawyers playing an increasingly important role in overcoming the political divides which have for so long hampered the equitable and sustainable allocation of our most important resource. 

I am therefore proud to work for an organisation that uses the law to tackle one of the leading existential and environmental challenges of our time, that bravely and persistently defends the rights and interests of its diverse client base and which continues to flush out maladministration in the water sector.

Dunphy award

As many of you would know, our role as leaders in this space extends to litigation. Most recently, this has included commencing civil enforcement proceedings in the NSW Land and Environment Court on behalf of our client, the Inland Rivers Network. The case, which is the very first of its kind to be brought under the Water Management Act 2000, alleges illegal water harvesting by a large-scale irrigator on the Barwon-Darling River. I’d like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the IRN, and in particular Bev Smiles, who is an indefatigable defender of the Murray-Darling Basin and who has taught me a great deal about water management across the state.

In closing, it is my great pleasure to accept this award. However, I do so on behalf of all my colleagues at EDO NSW, as justice is not achieved by individuals marooned on desert islands, but by groups of men and women working together to create a more sustainable and egalitarian world. Thank you."