If we intend to provide a better life, and a better world, for future generations, we can’t ignore the quality of the environment we leave them.
– John Kasich
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) environment is in reasonable condition and well managed. With significant community support, the ACT Government’s management of our environmental assets is commendable. This is borne out in the results of the independent assessment of management effectiveness (see Chapter 10).
By far the most significant challenge to the environment that supports life on our planet is climate change. This is a challenge that requires decisive action at local, city, state and global scales. The people of the ACT should be proud that they have supported significant and leading action on climate change. As we complete this report, the ACT Government has committed to achieving the target of meeting 100% of its energy consumption needs with renewable energy by 2025. The importance of such leadership cannot be overestimated. The handful of cities and states making such serious commitments not only give the international community real examples to follow, but also hope.
There are some areas where our assessments of air, land, water, biodiversity and heritage show that management decisions are not always resulting in improvements to environmental outcomes.
Where opportunities exist for Government to make strategic and practical decisions to improve environmental outcomes, they are presented in this chapter as recommendations. The recommendations are designed to focus effort where it is likely to have the greatest effect by identifying opportunities to integrate multiple environmental outcomes into government policies and programs. This includes, for example, ensuring biodiversity outcomes are incorporated into planning strategies at a landscape level, and ensuring that all environmental policies incorporate consistent monitoring, reporting and evaluation frameworks.
This chapter also discusses longer-term environmental challenges where no clear government response is identifiable, or where potential solutions are long term, complex, require significant investments or involve major behavioural change by the whole community. These have been raised to stimulate thought, discussion and debate in the hope this may result in innovative approaches being brought to light.
The chapter includes:
- recommendations from the 2011 State of the Environment Report1 and the Government’s success in implementing them
- justification for the 2015 recommendations
- the 2015 recommendations derived from the chapters in the body of the report
- key longer-term challenges that the Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment (OCSE) considers should be the focus of our thinking.