Australia, despite its breathtaking landscapes and unique biodiversity, has long found itself in the ranks of countries contributing significantly to global biodiversity loss.
However, Dr. Evan Center, Environment and Climate Change Manager at UN Global Compact Network Australia, believes that our nation has the potential not only to reverse this trend but to emerge as a global leader in biodiversity conservation.
Australia, deemed one of the world’s megadiverse countries, hosts between 7-10 percent of all species globally, many of which are found nowhere else. Despite political divides, Australians are rallying to save our incredible lands, waterways and oceans. 97% of Australians recently shared an increasing desire to drive more action to protect nature. Likewise, despite having only a fraction of the global population, Australia has the remarkable capacity to reduce global emissions by 8% – and nature-positive engagement from the government and the private sector will be crucial to get there.
This highlights our nation’s capacity to effect meaningful change. With our expertise, increasing governmental support, strong reporting frameworks, and growing momentum in the private sector, there is a massive opportunity to both lead the world in nature-repair, and utilize nature-based solutions for our decarbonization efforts.
The Australian government has demonstrated a rapid increase in support for biodiversity conservation, evident in policy settings and investment. Over $1 billion has been allocated to land and species conservation, oceans research, and First Nations waterways.[i] While this marks significant progress, more still needs to be done, including enforcing nature-positive policies, and ongoing assistance to businesses as they begin to assess and disclose their own impact on nature.
The Department of Climate Change, Energy the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) has already stepped up in this regard and supported businesses with their nature-positive efforts.
This year, at COP28, there is a strong expectation that the outcomes of last year’s Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) – the biodiversity equivalent of the Paris Agreement – will be utilized to further global decarbonization efforts. Notably, Target 15 of the GBF deals heavily with the private sector disclosing nature and biodiversity impact.
Balancing regulatory frameworks with market-based approaches is key to accelerating the protection of nature and biodiversity. Initiatives like the recently released Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) Framework and nature-based target setting from the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) provide the potential to mobilise capital toward more nature-positive outcomes. At the same time they will enhance data disclosure, reduce subjectivity, refine impact metrics, and measure actual outcomes.
Reporting on nature and biodiversity, with strong government support, also provides businesses the incentive and the tools to identify, assess, and disclose exposure to nature-related issues in a way that aligns with climate-related reporting. Climate disclosure frameworks have taken a long time to roll out and become mandatory. However, with mandatory-climate related financial disclosure coming down from the Treasury, businesses will need to rapidly resource climate disclosure operations over the next two years.
This provides a prime opportunity for businesses to also incorporate strategies to assess and account for their nature and biodiversity impacts as part of their climate reporting. While reporting on nature impact is currently voluntary, businesses that incorporate nature reporting within their climate disclosure operations will be able to utilize nature-based solutions as part of their decarbonization strategies and be able to move quickly once reporting on nature-impact becomes mandatory.
As we navigate the challenges of biodiversity conservation, many organisations are getting key elements right. Gathering quality data, bridging gaps across sectors, leading from the top by investing at the highest organisational level, and crucially, listening to and integrate First Nations perspectives. Indigenous knowledge, values, and perspectives must be integral to decision-making for better environmental outcomes.
The recently introduced TNFD framework arrives at a crucial time. As we reach the halfway point for the Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030), there’s a collective acknowledgment that we are not where we should be.
The Forward Faster campaign from the United Nations Global Compact aims to help companies accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by focusing on where they can make the biggest, fastest impact ahead of 2030.
We need companies to get onboard campaigns like Forward Faster to accelerate progress if we are going to achieve this ambition of being a global leader in biodiversity conservation. We need to work together so that when Australia is the host the Global Nature Positive Summit, and hopefully at COP31 (2028), Australia can truly hang its hat on driving the nature-positive targets of the GBF, and set an example for the world to follow.
Dr Evan Center, Environment and Climate Change Manager, UN Global Compact Network Australia
- $121m to support independent Environment Protection Agency, which will make environmental assessments, decide project approvals and enforce violations of project conditions for environmental impact.
Conservation & Nature Repair
- $262m to support national parks
- $163m to support Australian Institute of Marine Science
- $439m to conserve threatened species and ecosystems, including the support of World Heritage properties and restoration of the Ramsar wetlands
- $118m to support First Nations, community groups, NGOs and councils clean and restore urban rivers and waterways
- $7.7m to establish a Nature Repair Market
- $224m Saving Native Species Programme
- $45m for repairs relating to the Sydney harbour
- $92m for urgent infrastructure upgrades of Mutitjulu within Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
- $236m for national flood warning system and support
Dr Evan Center is an experienced environment and climate change professional with expertise in environmental research, strategy and partnerships. At the UNGCNA, Evan manages our activities and programming related to Environment and Climate Change—in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Global Compact Network’s Ten Principles. Evan’s career has been driven by a passion for environment, climate change and other sustainability initiatives. He holds a PhD in Communication (University of Kansas) and has published and presented extensively on environmental communication in relation to advocacy, enterprise and economics. Prior to joining the UNGCNA, he utilised his research expertise to develop cutting-edge programmes and partnerships within university, corporate, government and not-for-profit sectors. Outside of work, Evan loves to cook and finds any excuse he can to play in the ocean.
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