‘Birds and Bitumen’: how we can all be stewards of the environment

From the Commissioner
Dr Gillian Sparkes

For this year’s World Environment Day, the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Dr Gillian Sparkes, delivered an inspiring speech to the construction industry at VicRoads. Dr Sparkes identified this year’s theme, ‘Connecting People to Nature’, as befitting of a new direction for the Commission, which includes reforms for higher impact outcomes and better information for policy and decision makers.

Dr Sparkes spoke to the audience of infrastructure professionals about the importance of their role as environmental stewards; shared key findings from the State of the Bays report released by the Commissioner in 2016 and reiterated the need for diligence as “what we do on the land has a big impact on the health of our bays and waterways”.

In 2015, the Commissioner launched State and Benefit, a framework for reform which aims to influence changes by Government that will improve outcomes for citizens and the environment of Victoria.  For the first time, the Commission is facilitating the creation of important baseline data on the health of Victoria’s environment.

Today, the Commission is advocating even more for using digital platforms, data analytics, citizen science and environmental economic accounts to bring about a shift in how we monitor and ultimately protect Victoria’s natural assets. This is transforming the way environmental science and policy is delivered, making it more accessible and understandable for a highly engaged Victorian community.  

Dr Sparkes commended the Victorian Government’s biodiversity plan, Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037. The premise of this report is that a healthy environment is fundamental to a healthy society and sets a long-term vision for Victoria’s biodiversity.  The 2018 State of the Environment will include the first opportunity to report against the targets set by the Biodiversity 2037 plan.

Dr Mark Norman, Chief Conservation Scientist for Parks Victoria, also took the podium to showcase some of Victoria’s marine biodiversity.

About World Environment Day

World Environment Day is the United Nations’ most important day for supporting awareness and action for the protection of our global environment. Since 1974, the day has grown to become a platform for celebration in over 100 countries and reaching over a million people.

This year’s event is hosted by Canada and supported by the people around the world including the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability.