With natural wonders such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Blue Mountains, and the Bungle Bungles, Australia is home to a diverse range of plant and animal life.
However, the impacts of catastrophic weather events put these delicate ecosystems at risk. Events such as coral bleaching, bushfires, and floods can not only put the lives and livelihoods of residents at risk but also potentially destroy the habitats of endangered species.
There are many stakeholders involved in ecological sustainability – from the community to the corporate boardroom to dedicated environmental management companies, these groups are making an impact. Let’s explore firstly why ecological sustainability is so vital, and following that, how both government and corporate bodies are fighting for sustainability in both our homes and workplaces.
Why is Ecological Sustainability vital?
In recent years, several major environmental disasters have impacted Australia. These have had a significant impact on many communities and can be felt at a local level, even if the events are hundreds of kilometres away.
A great example of this was smoke haze affecting Toorak, amongst much of the Melbourne metropolitan area, following the Black Summer bushfires of 2020. While the fires may have been occurring further east, their impact could be felt in our homes and in our streets.
While the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef is not necessarily something that can be seen at a local level, one could argue that the impact of the smoke haze influenced the psyche of our communities. Climate change wasn’t something that was happening further abroad – as a community, we were reminded that the things that we do have an impact on our environment.
Ultimately, humanity lives on one planet. If, as citizens, we want things to change, we need to take steps to address it.
Changing headwinds and a changing electorate
As a result of climate change becoming more prominent in the news, there has been an attempt to influence and change policy at a governmental level.
While some federal policies, such as a net-zero by 2050 emissions target, were announced, it was clear that community perception was that these targets and steps were considered either inadequate or simply inept. At a global level, Australia was considered a ‘holdout’ on climate action – something which has further driven an appetite for change within our communities.
In early 2022, this demand for change was felt. For the first time in nearly a decade, there has been a change in government. Curiously, this has happened with several high-profile local independent candidates such as Dr Monique Ryan (representing the seat of Kooyong), and Zoe Daniel (Goldstein) taking seats on a platform promoting climate action and sustainability.
The impact of a changing electorate is a prime example of communities fighting for ecological sustainability. Fed up with the actions of incumbents, residents are using their voices to fight for their communities at the ballot box.
Corporate developments toward ecological sustainability
At a corporate level, changes have been felt as well. A few environmental management companies have been acting in this space for a number of years now, providing specialised knowledge in fields such as land management and conservation.
Further afield, there has been a growing impetus for corporate Australia to adopt climate targets. From big supermarket chains to the nation’s airlines, many businesses have begun to release roadmaps to improve ecological sustainability in corporate Australia.
Fascinatingly, this has also led to direct corporate action, such as the recent takeover bid of AGL Energy and subsequent shareholder activism taken by billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes. While not the first attempt of corporate activism in Australia, this style of direct ballot action is rarely seen. It will be fascinating to see how this sort of direct action develops over the next decade.
Overall, ecological sustainability is fast becoming a critical issue that Toorak residents and the broader Australian community are fighting for. From understanding the impacts that climate disasters have on our communities, to subsequently following that up with action at the ballot box, residents have decided to push for change.
It remains to be seen if this action will have a meaningful impact over the next decade, but as many have noted, Australia must take steps to address climate change. Whether we actually do that is up to us, as ecologically-minded citizens.