In 2019, three significant reports on the health of our environment, prepared by the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, were publicly released - the State of the Environment 2018 Report, the State of the Yarra and its Parklands 2018 Report, and the State of the Forests 2018 Report.
Using 170 different scientific indicators, the report shows us where we’re doing well and where we need to improve.
The State of the Environment 2018 Report recommendations are informed and driven by the science.
The selection of recommendations was also influenced by the key megatrends identified as having significant impact on the future of Victoria’s environment:
- the physical impacts of climate change
- reducing our carbon footprint
- ‘clued-up’ citizens shaping business and government practices
- disruptive technologies
- natural resource constraints.
The Future Focus discussion and recommendations are intended to support environmental improvement over the next decade to 2030. This is not an arbitrary time-horizon. It aligns the recommendations of this report with the ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ and the reporting arrangements of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). All 193 member states of the United Nations have committed to achieving each goal and target by 2030 in order to ‘leave no one behind’.
Although most of the recommendations in this report do not specifically suggest precise delivery timelines, except where noted, it is anticipated that they would be fully implemented by 2030, with clear progress evident within five years, commensurate with the next State of the Environment report due in 2023.
The principles on which these recommendations were developed are:
- prioritise recommendations that improve multiple environmental outcomes
- focus on improving the evidence base to deliver key policy and legislative actions and targets
- ensure recommendations are informed by the findings of other respected reports (CES acknowledge the significant research undertaken by others, including the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO), Victorian Catchment Management Council, Ministerial Advisory Committee for the Independent Inquiry into Environment Protection Authority Victoria, the Finkel Review and the Independent Panel for Climate Change)
- align recommendations with achieving ecologically sustainable development and SDG targets by 2030, and support the development of a system of environmental-economic accounts for Victoria.
For details of recommendations, see the ‘Future Focus’ section of the Summary Report.
The recommendations can broadly be grouped into the following strategic capabilities:
- Science impact – This is about ‘knowing what we need to know, when we need to know it’ in a format that is useful for scientists, regulators, managers, economists and the community. This includes responding to systemic environmental challenges and emerging global megatrends and developing environmental-economic accounting as a core skill for government.
- Coordination and governance – This focuses on improving the clarity of roles and responsibilities, and reviewing allocation of existing funding models and accountabilities to deliver priorities. New money is not always needed: improving the coordination of existing resources, effort and investments will enable better outcomes.
- Delivery – A comprehensive suite of policy and action plans have been developed by the Victorian Government since 2014. Focus must now shift to delivery of this policy regime and better investment in underpinning science and skills to enable adaptive management.
- Data, monitoring, spatial information and analytics – More investment in skills and capabilities is needed from DELWP and portfolio agencies.
- Citizen science and education – Building community understanding, participation and awareness can improve policy and environmental outcomes.
Dr Sparkes explains the State of the Environment 2018 Report
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