Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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Top Story

Damaged coral reefs are going quiet and young fish can’t find their way home | ABC News
Healthy coral reefs are alive with the pops, snaps and clicks of the invertebrate creatures that inhabit them. And many newly hatched fish species use these sounds to guide them towards new habitats. But now scientists have found reefs damaged by coral bleaching and cyclones are much quieter than intact reefs, and are failing to attract as many new juvenile fish, which are crucial for reef recovery. An international team published its findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today, and study co-author Mark Meekan from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) said the results were worrying.

Reefs around Lizard Island are quieter since being hit by two cyclones and severe bleaching. (Supplied: PNAS)

Reefs around Lizard Island are quieter since being hit by two cyclones and severe bleaching. (Supplied: PNAS)

Climate Change and Energy

McCrone: Warp Speed to More Storage, Less Dark Energy, Summit 2018 | Bloomberg New Energy Finance
Veterans of Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Future of Energy Summits could have been forgiven for wondering whether sometime in the last decade they stepped into a parallel universe. Who would have guessed in 2008, at the very first Summit, that at the equivalent event 10 years later – in New York earlier this month – we would be hearing how one of the world’s biggest utilities had written off 23 billion euros of merchant assets, and how U.S. power sector emissions had fallen 28%?

11 key themes as countries take stock of Paris Agreement progress | Climate Home News
Three years after the Paris Agreement was adopted, it faces a major test: the first stocktake of collective action. Dubbed the Talanoa Dialogue and drawing on Pacific storytelling traditions, this could be – as the Fijian organisers hope – a springboard for raising ambition. Or it could be a talking shop. Here are 11 of the key themes.

Rising levels of ‘frustration’ at UN climate stalemate | BBC News
Old divisions between rich and poor over money and ambition are again threatening to limit progress in UN climate negotiations. Discussions between negotiators from nearly 200 countries have resumed in Germany, aiming to flesh out the rules on the Paris climate pact. But developing countries say they are “frustrated” with the lack of leadership from the developed world. Commitments to cut carbon are still “woefully inadequate” they said.

Environment and Biodiversity

Wild wolf shot and killed in Denmark | The Guardian
DENMARK – One of the first wild wolves to roam free in Denmark for 200 years has been shot and killed, threatening the survival of the species in the country. Two naturalists who were observing the wolves captured the moment the animal was shot on camera. The film has sparked outrage. The footage appears to show the animal, a female, being shot by someone in a parked car. The wolf was not posing a threat or being aggressive.

Native bird in cat’s gaze at Dunedin sanctuary |
NEW ZEALAND – A photo of a cat eyeing up a kiwi inside a Dunedin ecosanctuary highlights the need for wildlife protection, a senior manager says. The photo was taken on a trail camera by student Jemima Gardiner-Rodden and uploaded to the sanctuary’s Facebook page.

A kiwi is watched by a cat outside a predator-proof fence at Orokonui Ecosanctuary, near Dunedin. Photo: Jemima Gardiner-Rodden/Supplied

A kiwi is watched by a cat outside a predator-proof fence at Orokonui Ecosanctuary, near Dunedin. Photo: Jemima Gardiner-Rodden/Supplied

How to overcome fierce debates about banning all trade in ivory | CEED (Opinion)
AUSTRALIA – Africa’s elephants are under siege from rampant poaching for their ivory. Everyone agrees that Africa’s elephants need protecting from the ongoing slaughter. But countries with wild elephant populations (range states) disagree vehemently on a central policy issue: should we ban all trade in ivory or not?


Murray-Darling Basin Plan potentially unlawful, royal commissioner warns | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – The legality of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has been called into question by the royal commissioner in charge of investigating the alleged misuse of water across the river system. Bret Walker SC is conducting a royal commission ordered by the previous South Australian government, following alleged water theft by irrigators in upstream states. He is due to hand down his findings in early 2019. In an issues paper released last night, Mr Walker said there was a “real risk” all or parts of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan were unlawful.

Partial recovery of key Murray-Darling Basin sites stirs debate | SMH
AUSTRALIA – Several key ecological Murray-Darling Basin sites are showing positive responses to extra water, stirring debate about whether planned cuts to environmental flows should proceed. The first report after a decade of monitoring six regions – ranging from the Barmah-Millewa Forest on the Murray to the Lower Lakes and Coorong in South Australia – has found “strong evidence” additional water is improving the health of rivers, wetlands and floodplains. “Where we target water for the environment, we’re starting to see a really clear ecological response” in birdlife, fish and vegetation, Carl Binning, an executive director of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, said.

Economy and Business

Australia’s super nest-egg could deliver 100% renewables by 2030 | RenewEconomy
AUSTRALIA – A new report has revealed the potentially game-changing role Australia’s trillion-dollar pool of retirement savings could play in fast-tracking the shift to renewables. The research, conducted by UTS Institute of Sustainable Futures (ISF) and Future Super, suggests that an investment of just 7.7 per cent of the nation’s collective superannuation nest-egg, could underwrite the transition to a 100 per cent renewable electricity grid by 2030.

Bill McKibben: ‘There’s clearly money to be made from sun and wind’ | The Guardian
AUSTRALIA – After almost three decades of environmental activism, Bill McKibben has become the Earth’s investment broker. “There’s no way at this point to solve [climate change] one person at a time,” McKibben told Guardian Australia. The author and founder of is at the start of an Australian tour, speaking with councils and unions, banks and superannuation funds – anyone with serious cash to invest – about backing an aggressive shift to renewable power sources.

Coalition climate policy built on little more than “hope,” says BNEF | RenewEconomy
The head of Bloomberg New Energy Finance in Australia has slammed the climate policy of the federal Coalition government, describing it as being built on little more than “hope.” Speaking at the Carbon Market Institute’s 2018 Emissions Reduction Summit in Melbourne on Tuesday, BNEF’s Kobad Bhavnagri said that – at a time when good policy was most desperately needed – the Turnbull government seemed to be using a faith-based approach to decarbonising Australia’s economy.

Why you can’t have free trade and save the planet | The Conversation
For centuries world trade has increased not only environmental degradation, but also global inequality. The expanding ecological footprints of affluent people are unjust as well as unsustainable. The concepts developed in wealthier nations to celebrate “growth” and “progress” obscure the net transfers of labour time and natural resources between richer and poorer parts of the world.

11 tips for government engagement in the new economy | The Fifth Estate
The economic landscape is rapidly changing, characterised by decentralised power structures, smart digital infrastructure, big data, automated/robotic manufacturing, hyper mobility and a sharing economy. The decentralised nature of the new economy is increasingly impacting the capacity for effective communication between industry and government. In the days of Holden and Ford, big business had dedicated teams working with government to ensure their needs were understood and met. While those days aren’t quite over, the new economy – increasingly driven by small and medium-sized business (SMEs) – will require a new approach.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Governments make right noises on waste crisis, but much more action needed | The Fifth Estate
Phasing out unsustainable packaging and using government purchasing power to increase market share of products containing recycled content are among initiatives agreed at last Friday’s meeting of environment ministers. Environment groups and the recycling sector, however, have expressed mixed feelings about the meeting’s outcome, with many concerned that the proposals are too loose, too vague and non-binding.

Business set to boom for Australia’s first onshore lithium battery recycler | The Fifth Estate
AUSTRALIA – With Victoria set to ban landfilling of e-waste from 1 July 2019, a home-grown recycler is set to benefit from the growing quantity of lithium batteries reaching end of life. Envirostream reprocesses waste lithium batteries from digital devices, appliances, cars, and industrial and residential uses into metals such as steel, aluminium and copper, and mixed-metal ingots that contain lithium, graphene, nickel and other elements, which are sent to a partner company in South Korea to manufacture new batteries.

Politics and Society

Queensland farmers rally against laws to curb land clearing | The Guardian
AUSTRALIA – The Queensland government is expected to pass new land-clearing laws on Tuesday amid fierce protests by farmers on the steps of the state parliament. The laws are an attempt to rein in soaring clearing rates and restore environmental protections that were scrapped in 2013. The Climate Council estimates bushland more than seven times the size of Brisbane – about 1m hectares – was cleared between 2012 and 2016.

Generation debt: UK ‘below average’ at teaching financial literacy | The Conversation
UK – To have an understanding of the importance of budgeting and the impact and real cost of debt is an essential life skill. And one primary school in the UK is trying to tackle this issue head on. It has set up its own bank to teach children about money. But is it the school’s job?

Built Environment

The evidence is in on activity based working | The Fifth Estate
Many (some unproven) claims have been made about the benefits of agile/activity based working (ABW) on workers’ health and work performance, but the jury is no longer out: In a recently published systematic review, we report that there is consensus that ABW is good for interaction, work performance and control, but unfavourable for concentration and privacy.


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