29 Mar 2023
WWF: $15 BILLION RECONSTRUCTION FUND MUST DELIVER WINS FOR PEOPLE AND NATURE
The World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia has urged the Australian Government to ensure its $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) supports innovations that will benefit people, climate, and nature. The NRF legislation was passed by the parliament today, after the government secured the support of key crossbenchers in the Senate yesterday. The fund aims to reduce Australia’s dependence on imports and drive investment in agriculture, resources, transport, medical science, defence, renewables and low-emissions technologies. “This fund represents a once-in-a-century opportunity for Australia to become a global leader in a regenerative economy,” said Dermot O’Gorman, WWF-Australia’s CEO. “If done right, this $15 billion investment in Aussie innovators will create regenerative outcomes for communities and nature, and deliver jobs, grow local patents and attract overseas investment." “It should help drive innovation in more sustainable agriculture, plantation forests and fisheries, as well as critical technologies that can support the ongoing clean energy transition." “It is the type of global leadership that the world will expect from Australia if we are to co-host the COP31 climate talks with the Pacific." “Australia has a proud history of innovation, but we can and must do better at translating new inventions into good jobs and successful businesses in Australia.” Mr O’Gorman said he welcomed amendments to the legislation passed by the Senate, including a more capable and representative NRF Board, ensuring the NRF supports delivery of national climate policy, and the commitment to a circular economy. “Support for regenerative practices which place value on Australia’s unique ecosystems are a positive step forward to address the impacts of climate change,” he said. “There is still room for improvement in the legislation, notably to ensure Free, Prior and Informed Consent of First Nations Traditional Owners for projects that affect their interests, and the need to align the NRF mandate with the government’s new Nature Positive Plan.” Mr O’Gorman said the fund must also be a starting point that leads to more investment in renewables and clean energy technologies. “We need greater ambition to claim our place in a zero emissions global economy. The US, EU, India, East Asia and even Saudi Arabia are now offering massive incentives for clean technology, and Australia cannot afford to be left behind,” he said.