9 May 2013 — An independent report has found that sustainability is a critical issue for Australia’s future.
The National Sustainability Council, an independent expert body, has today released a report – Sustainable Australia 2013: Conversations with the Future – which shows that growing cities, climate change and an ageing population will significantly affect future generations.
An Australian first, the report aims to provide an evidence base for a national conversation about our future, and the future we want for our children and grandchildren.
Launching the inaugural report, National Sustainability Council chair John Thwaites said: “Sustainability is about more than the environment, and it’s about more than just the economy. It is about the sort of society we want to live in.”
The report finds that while Australian cities are now leading the world in terms of liveability, they are lagging behind on sustainability, with particular regard to energy consumption, car dependence and equity.
“The report highlights the important role Australia’s built environment – and in particular our cities – will have in securing a sustainable future for all Australians,” said Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council president Tom Roper.
The report also backs up recent findings by the Grattan Institute of a widening gap in opportunities between inner- and outer-suburb residents.
The National Sustainability Council proposes a set of national sustainability indicators to guide decision makers.
The Australian Conservation Foundation welcomed the suggestion, saying that current environmental accounts were seriously inadequate.
“Failure to know the state of our environmental accounts is akin to economic mismanagement,” said the ACF’s Monica Richter. “If Australia is to be a smart economy we need to better manage our natural resources and that means we need to know what state they’re in, now and into the future.”
Other challenges discussed in the report relate to food and agriculture, education, climate change, regional Australia, sustainable growth and prosperity through innovation.
Green Building Council of Australia executive director of advocacy Robin Mellon said the report “should be read by every single Australian so that they understand their place in and their contribution to Australia’s sustainable future”.
The council says it is optimistic that Australians can make the decisions needed to set us on a path for a sustainable Australia.
View the report here.