5 July 2022
A BLUEPRINT TO REGENERATE AUSTRALIA
By Katinka Day, Government Relations Manager, WWF-Australia
At our most recent federal election, the Australian people overwhelmingly voted for representatives who prioritised the environment and the climate, with a record result for the Greens and the installation of a majority Labor government.
A new Parliament brings new opportunities and a real chance to create meaningful policy change that benefits the environment. However, like building a house, you can’t just start laying bricks. You need a blueprint.
If we want an environment that we can still live in for years to come, the first step is ensuring we have the right plan.
The team at WWF-Australia has put together a blueprint for the new federal government and elected representatives that consists of policies and actions designed to address climate change, protect nature, stop habitat destruction and transition Australia to become a renewable energy superpower.
The petitions our supporters have signed and emails sent to politicians have helped us sound the siren: our wildlife and wild places urgently need our government to take action.
This is our Blueprint to Regenerate Australia.
Here are ten things we must do to ensure we get the best possible outcomes for people and nature.
1. Strengthen our Nature Laws
Looking after the environment is everyone’s responsibility, but we need that responsibility to be a legal one.
By strengthening Australia’s national nature laws (the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act), we can ensure that Australia is legally bound to protect our wildlife and the places they call home. We also need to ensure that Indigenous Australians' knowledge, customs and interests are recognised under this law.
2. Become a World Leader in Forest Protection
Australia should be a world leader in forest protection and, in turn, reduce our carbon emissions. To achieve this, we must commit to protecting 30% of our land by 2030, and streamline how we define, gather and report data on deforestation and reforestation.
We need the government to invest in funds to support the transition away from harmful forestry practices and support innovative solutions to ensure we invest in and value nature.
3. Reverse the Extinction Crisis
Did you know that Australia has the worst mammal extinction rate in the world? We’ve already lost too many of our iconic species due to climate change, deforestation and human activities. Species such as the Tasmanian tiger, the Nullabor dwarf bettong and the broad-cheeked hopping mouse, to name a few.
We need a national target to stop the further extinction of wildlife and a comprehensive threatened species recovery package. Research shows that the more a country invests in conservation, the fewer species it loses. This is why strong investment in our threatened species is so important.
4. Save the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is one of our most internationally recognised and iconic natural landmarks. However, it’s under threat due to climate change and extractive industries, with another mass coral bleaching event occurring as recently as this year, 2022. This year's mass bleaching is the fourth since 2016 and the sixth since 1998.
The Australian Federal Government needs to increase the ambition of Australia’s emissions reduction targets to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Establishing protected areas and additional net-free zones, as well as increased and targeted investment to improve overall Reef water quality, will also be vital if we’re going to save this natural wonder.
5. Protect the Marine Environment
Investment and protection need to extend to other parts of the oceans that border Australia. We need to classify 30% of Australia’s oceans as highly protected zones by 2030 and turn them into marine sanctuaries. We need to be a driving force for greater marine park area (MPA) protection in Antarctica.
6. Keep Plastics Out of the Environment
As a nation, we’ve already banned plastic bags and straws, but we need to do more to keep harmful plastics out of the environment and away from our unique wildlife.
By legislating the 2025 National Packaging Targets and introducing a plastic reduction target, we can ensure Australia takes a leading role in ending plastic in nature.
7. Become a Renewable Energy Export Superpower
Australia has everything it needs to become a renewable energy superpower. The world wants and needs clean energy solutions, and with Australia’s abundance of sun, wind and technical know-how, we can generate jobs, grow our economy and secure our future by exporting our surplus electricity and our renewables expertise.
We need the Australian Government to develop a Renewable Exports Strategy for Australia and invest in renewable energy infrastructure.
8. Expand Indigenous Protected Areas and Ranger Programs
Indigenous Protected Areas and Ranger Programs deliver much more than environmental benefits. By expanding and investing in these, we can protect significant cultural values, enhance Indigenous Ecological Knowledge across the Country and support gender equality.
We can achieve this if the government commits to further expanding Indigenous ranger programs and ensures that women rangers are supported through a women ranger’s support network.
9. Build a Nature-Positive International Development Program
Many people in the Pacific and Asia-Pacific region depend on natural resources and well-functioning ecosystems for their livelihoods. The Australian Government needs to invest in nature-positive approaches as part of its aid program to achieve both development and environmental outcomes that benefit our neighbours and us.
10. Invest in Community-Led Economic, Social and Environmental Regeneration
Innovative solutions are vital to finding new ways to protect our economy, our people and our environment. WWF-Australia has launched the Innovate to Regenerate program to identify and support the most promising solutions that deliver social, environmental and economic benefits.
We need the government to support and invest in these innovative projects to ensure their longevity and success.
With the right blueprint, we can ensure that the Australia we build is strong and sturdy and protects our environment for years to come.
We’re excited to work with the government, businesses and communities to create a better and more sustainable future for people and nature.
To learn more about WWF’s Blueprint to Regenerate Australia click here, and if you’d like to get updates on how you can help us get the government on track, sign up to Regenerate Australia today.