State of the Environment report highlights opportunities for action

The Federal Government this week released an updated State of the Environment report which aims to help shape policy and action, influence behaviours, and assess our impact on the environment.

In a changed approach since the last report in 2016, the updated report also explores the links between human wellbeing and the environment. Additionally, the report and its analysis is more aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This approach includes outcome-based assessments which provide a common framework that can be used by industry and states and territories. 

The report makes a number of findings which align closely with recommendations contained in The Journey to Net-Zero – Inspiring Climate Action in the Australian Transport Sector, delivered as part of an industry-first partnership between RA, the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) and the Infrastructure Sustainability Council (ISC).

Some brief examples are outlined below.

State of the Environment 2021 report

Access to reliable and regular public transport is another key factor in the livability of our urban environments. It is a more sustainable form of travel for the environment and is important for various age groups and abilities, given that not all citizens are eligible for drivers licences. Proximity to public transport also encourages more active forms of travel, with associated health and wellbeing benefits.

The Journey to Net-Zero

Recommendation 1.3 – Implement an integrated design approach to our transport infrastructure, favouring active and public transport solutions, connectivity between modes, shared use paths and cycleways over private vehicle solutions where practical.

A new focus on designing our urban areas to be more walkable, green, proximate to services and jobs, and resilient to extreme weather events including heat will enhance the wellbeing of urban citizens. 

Recommendation 2.6 – Advocate for all new and existing infrastructure projects to consider climate resilience and climate impacts in their design and operation.

We also need to rethink and redesign how resources that are traditionally considered to be ‘waste’ are redeployed. In the future, this could be partly mitigated by moving to a circular economy, eliminating single-use plastics, and preventing microplastics and other persistent agricultural and industrial toxins permeating water supplies and food chains.

Recommendation 3.2 – Facilitate industry wide collaboration to focus on designing out waste and utilise systems thinking to drive circular economy principles into the planning and design processes for new assets.

In the coming months, the industry partners that produced The Journey to Net-Zero will embark on further government and industry engagement to act on its findings and recommendations. To find out more about how you can be involved, reach out to RA’s policy team.

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