Monday, August 04, 2008

commissioner for environmental sustainability talks state of vic's environment

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Dr Ian McPhail, Victoria’s Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability. The Commissioner is an environmental guardian for Victoria – an independent voice that advocates, audits and reports on environmental sustainability, supported by legislation. The Commissioner is raising the profile of environmental sustainability in Victoria by:
~Reporting on matters relating the natural environment of Victoria
~Encouraging decision making that facilitates ecologically sustainable development

~Enhancing knowledge and understanding of ecologically sustainable development and the environment
~Encouraging sound environmental practices and procedures to be adopted by the Government of Victoria and local governments as a basis for ecologically sustainable development.
The Commissioner has been charged with the task of producing a State of Environment report for Victoria. Time and time again the message was “it is cheaper to protect than restore our environment”. The Commissioner highlighted that sufficient actions have not been put in place to address climate change and that political will was not yet in place to effect change. Dr McPhail was concerned that no contingency plans were in place should technologies like clean coal and carbon capture and storage failed and we don’t have time to lose.

The emphasis was that we continue to place no value on our environment, whether it be the endangered grasslands of Melbourne’s growth corridors or remnant vegetation in rural areas. Until we integrate environmental costs into our economic system we will continue to ignore the value of our natural systems and the services they provide (air, water, food). Natural systems are the basis of social and economic resilience and without them we are compromised.

The Commissioner ended with “the future cannot be and extension of the past”. I hope that politicians of all persuasions heed the message of the Commissioner. Victoria is in a critical state, our environment is under great stress and it is time to act now.

Yarra Ranges completed its very first State of the Environment report earlier this year. The report will provide detailed information so we can measure how our environment is fairing on an annual basis. The development of the State of Environment Report was a key environmental priority of Council. The report aims to outline the features of the Yarra Ranges environment, the current condition of natural assets and processes that threaten their health and the impact of human activities through everyday resource consumption and waste generation.

It was very rewarding to be one of the councillors on the working group, I put in many hours to ensure we had a document we could be proud of. My commitment to the SoE report (and Environment Strategy) ensures that Yarra Ranges continues to be at the forefront of environmental stewardship.

If you’d like to read more about Yarra Range’s State of the Environment Report click here:

If you’d like to find out more about Victoria’s Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability click here:

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