Sustainability Bites

There is no such thing as a free lunch

governance

Trump and the crazy ants – focus on the system, not the symptom

Trump and the crazy ants – focus on the system, not the symptom

‘Trumpism’ is a bit like crazy ants? Both require certain system conditions for them to become super pests. Throwing Trump in jail won’t remove the threat. The conditions for Trump’s ascendency are still present and will enable the next ‘crazy man’ to do just as much damage. We need to remediate the craziness and address the gaps in society that let so many people believe the system isn’t working for them.

Revelations 2 and 3 – justice and truth (Now all we need is the slogan)

Revelations 2 and 3 – justice and truth (Now all we need is the slogan)

If you accept that humans are not in control, that you can’t hold nature in some mythical ‘optimal state’, that good resilience thinking is all about understanding the variability of the natural systems around us and living within those constraints – if you do all these things then you are acknowledging complexity and demonstrating ‘humility’. So, do you want to save the world? Justice, truth and humility is the path you need to tread.

Has time been called on the native forest logging deals of the 1990s? Here’s what the Albanese government can do

Has time been called on the native forest logging deals of the 1990s? Here’s what the Albanese government can do

It seems time is being called on the forest settlement of the 1990s. These developments are already destabilising the federal government’s environmental law reform agenda, and could even derail it. The government could use the time between now and next year’s Senate debate on its reform package to work up a new approach. It could be built around forest restoration, conservation and Indigenous empowerment, as experts are proposing. If it doesn’t, we are headed for quite a stoush.

Have we learnt nothing? Don’t put all your (biodiversity) ‘eggs’ into a single (market) ‘basket’!

Have we learnt nothing? Don’t put all your (biodiversity) ‘eggs’ into a single (market) ‘basket’!

Before we commit all our ‘biodiversity eggs’ to the ‘market basket’ and leave saving Nature to the market traders, could we quickly reflect on what’s been done in the past to save biodiversity? How did we attempt to protect Nature before markets were put forward as our road to salvation? What are the lessons? Those lessons would include attention to governance, resourcing, inclusion and justice. Ignore these dimensions and there’s little prospect that a market-driven approach is going to achieve anything better.

Nature Repair Market bill may repair the environment, but is it the Budget that will need repair?

Nature Repair Market bill may repair the environment, but is it the Budget that will need repair?

Can markets put a value on improvements in biodiversity, enabling landholders to be paid for their services to nature and allowing businesses, among others, to invest in the biodiversity credits that landholders would produce. The new Nature Repair Market bill certainly aligns with this framing, but investors are unlikely to sign up, at least not without inducements.

The fifth and final transformation: Restoring trust in decision-making

The fifth and final transformation: Restoring trust in decision-making

One of the main findings of the Samuel Review of the EPBC Act was that it was not trusted, either by business nor by the wider community. Restoring trust requires a fundamental shift from process-based decision-making to outcome-based decisions. This requires standards supported by regional plans and stronger institutions, including information systems and compliance regimes. At the end of the day, people will only trust environmental laws that truly protect and conserve the environment.

A connection with tomorrow’s citizens – calling for a Ministry for the Future

A connection with tomorrow’s citizens – calling for a Ministry for the Future

The boldest and most fundamental change being proposed in the book The Ministry for the Future is a combination of economics, technology and innovations in governance that, when combined, gave reason for people to invest in their future. For surely, that is the real challenge of our times. It seems unprecedented climate disruption, with the certain prospect of greater disruption with every passing year, is not enough for us to make this important shift.

Taking Indigenous knowledge and values seriously: The second transformation of national environmental law

Taking Indigenous knowledge and values seriously: The second transformation of national environmental law

Taking Indigenous knowledge and values seriously in environmental policy is not limited to the transformation recommended by Professor Samuel under the EPBC Act. Providing for ‘respectful consideration of Indigenous views and knowledge’ will take time and investment.

Getting results: the first transformation of our national environmental law starts with ‘standards’

Getting results: the first transformation of our national environmental law starts with ‘standards’

To transform our national environmental law, we need to begin with ‘standards’
Discretionary, bottom-up decision-making is no way to achieve consistent & ecologically sustainable outcomes.

Five transformations: Breathing life into Australia’s national environmental law

Five transformations: Breathing life into Australia’s national environmental law

The EPBC Act is the most important environmental law in the country, but it doesn’t work. To achieve what it was established to do it needs to:
– pursuing national environmental outcomes (rather than just be a prescriptive regulatory processe);
– shift from Indigenous tokenism to full use of Indigenous knowledge;
– simplify regulatory outcomes between federal and state jurisdictions;
– lay new foundations for quality decision-making; and
– restore trust in decision-making.

Triggering the safeguard or safeguarding the trigger: Climate, large emitters and the EPBC Act

Triggering the safeguard or safeguarding the trigger: Climate, large emitters and the EPBC Act

Triggering the climate safeguard or safeguarding the climate trigger
A climate trigger should be limited to actions that are not caught by the safeguard mechanism, such as land clearing.
However, there are some benefits that are better delivered by one or other of the two mechanisms.

A new government and a new environment minister – what now for Australian environmental policy?

A new government and a new environment minister – what now for Australian environmental policy?

While Labor lifted its game at the last minute with its environmental law reform policy, they can hardly be said to be environmental-policy high performers. So, what’s ‘on the record’ and ‘off the record’ for our new government when it comes to the Environment? What should our new environment minister prioritise?