Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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Natural Capital Protocol Promises to ‘Revolutionize’ Business Value, Decision-Making
Two years in the making, the first global Natural Capital Protocol was launched today. The standardized framework brings together and builds on a number of approaches that already exist to help business measure and value natural capital. The Natural Capital Coalition suggests that by harmonizing these existing approaches, businesses everywhere can benefit from understanding their relationships with nature.

Energy and Climate Change

India to meet climate goals earlier than promised, says outgoing climate chief
India could meet its carbon reduction goals earlier than expected, the country’s outgoing climate minister told a meeting in Delhi on Tuesday. By 2030, the world’s fourth largest greenhouse gas emitter plans to cut the carbon intensity of GDP up to 35% on 2005 levels and boost the share of clean power in the energy mix to 40%. Those ambitious goals helped deliver a new global pact to limit warming to below 2C said Prakash Javadekar, who suggested India could overachieve on its pledge.

China set to ban all new coal plant development
After years of “binge-building” new coal plants, China is expected to suspend development of all new coal-fired power generators until the start of 2018, as part of its 13th Five Year Plan for the energy sector, according to state media reports.

Beaten by solar on price: Why natural gas is next fossil fuel to go
USA – The utility-scale solar industry used to have to compete against a “Market Price Referent” (MPR: the cost of an average natural gas contract). The idea was that, if a solar PPA could be priced at the same or less than a typical natural gas PPA, then it was considered competitive. Utilities in California are required by regulators to choose the cheapest option in contracting for electricity.

Environment and Biodiversity

Amazon rainforest has 11,676 tree species
So many different tree species grow in the Amazon rainforest that it will take another 300 years to discover them all, say scientists. Researchers made the prediction after conducting an audit of more than half a million museum specimens collected from the Amazon between 1707 and 2015. They ended up with a list of 11,676 different tree species. Based on this figure, they believe about 4000 of the rarest Amazonian trees remain to be discovered and described.

Surprising New Uses for Mushrooms, From Houses to Packaging
Mushrooms aren’t just for stir-fry and psychedelic experiences anymore. Researchers are working on creating building materials, medicine, cleaning products, textiles, biofuels, packaging, and countless other products out of the fungi.

The Ocean Could Be the New Gold Rush
The bottom of the world’s ocean contains vast supplies of precious metals and other resources, including gold, diamonds, and cobalt. Now, as the first deep-sea mining project ramps up, nations are trying to hammer out guidelines to ensure this new “gold rush” doesn’t wreck the oceans.

Call for more Indigenous people to help manage homelands
AUSTRALIA – Scientists are urging the Federal Government to help more Indigenous people move back into their homelands, to help improve the management of some of Australia’s most pristine landscapes and biodiversity hotspots.

Majority of Global Seafood Consumers Putting Sustainability Concerns Over Price, Brand
The largest-ever global analysis of attitudes toward seafood consumption, released today, has found that sustainability is a key driver for seafood purchases: Across 21 countries, sustainability is rated more highly than price and brand, with nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of seafood consumers agreeing that in order to save the oceans, shoppers should only consume seafood from sustainable sources. More than half (54 percent) said they are prepared to pay more for a certified sustainable seafood product.

WWF buys shark fishing licence on Great Barrier Reef to scrap it
A conservation group has taken the unusual step of buying a commercial shark fishing licence on the Great Barrier Reef, and will retire it, saving the sharks that it would otherwise be used to catch. WWF said it was now seeking funds to cover the cost of the $100,000 licence, which gives the owner the right to drag a 1.2km net anywhere along the length of the Great Barrier Reef, targeting sharks. It can also be used for fishing with lines to target other species.
You can donate to help WWF buy the fishing license here.

MPI agrees to investigate unreported Hector’s dolphin death
NEW ZEALAND – A probe into the unreported death of a Hector’s dolphin has started, following pressure from wildlife organisation World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF). The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirmed it is “investigating further the potential capture of a Hector’s dolphin”, which was outlined in its own report into illegal fishing practices, dubbed Operation Achilles.


Why water is more expensive than most companies think
When it comes to managing their operations, savvy businesses know that efficient material use is crucial to improving the bottom line. However, when it comes to water, many companies fail to plan for water shortages until the problem becomes acute.

Christchurch rivers lowest they’ve been in decades
NEW ZEALAND – Christchurch’s rivers are the lowest they’ve been in several decades, records show. Several of the city’s waterways dried up earlier this year, upsetting residents. Months later, some streams remain low and will likely dry up again next year if rain does not arrive. Environment Canterbury’s (ECan) Christchurch-West Melton zone committee met with the Christchurch City Council on Tuesday to give a monthly report on its work in greater Christchurch.

Economy and Business

TTIP proposal casts doubt on G20 climate pledge, leaked EU draft shows
Trade negotiators in Brussels are proposing new loopholes on a G20 pledge to phase out fossil fuel subsidies within a decade, in the latest leaked TTIP proposals seen by the Guardian. The EU’s draft text for a trade and sustainable development chapter also appears to draw an equivalence between the need to prevent trade distortions and the fight against climate change.

Report: Responsible investment almost half of professionally managed assets
Almost half of all professionally managed assets have been responsibly invested, according to the latest Responsible Investment Benchmark Report. The report, the 15th created by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia, found that $633 billion, or 47 per cent of total investment, had been invested “responsibly”, with consumer demand a driving force. It’s a huge amount of money, but just what does “responsible investment” mean?

Waste and the Circular Economy

Failure to teach cooking at school ‘contributing to £12bn a year food waste’
A failure to teach children to cook at school is one of the reasons to blame for UK householders throwing away £12bn of food each year, according to a former leading government adviser on food waste.

How did Denmark become a leader in the food waste revolution?
A six-year-old sniffs asparagus suspiciously as his father grapples with a grapefruit and several women admire a selection of cabbages, in search of a bargain.  “Everyone pays 20 kroner (about £2) for a reusable bag to fill with whatever they like,” says Bettina Bach, 31, of Bo Welfare, a social housing project in the Danish city of Horsens that runs the food waste pop-up shop… Bach and a group of volunteers sell to 100-150 locals each week, and are at the grassroots end of Denmark’s battle against food waste, which is one of the most concerted in the world, and has cut waste by a quarter since 2010.

Politics and Society

How the ‘first-in-last-out’ ethic is creating a culture of overwork
In order to thrive, businesses should focus more on what is actually being produced at work rather than how long employees spend at their desk.

How apps and other online tools are challenging racist attacks
The Brexit fallout has included a sharp rise in racist attacks on people of colour and migrants, including eastern Europeans. Anti-racists in the UK have quickly responded. The iStreetWatch website now allows users to report and map racist incidents across the UK. People are increasingly using online spaces and digital tools such as anti-racism apps to strategise, challenge racist views and strengthen anti-racist solidarity.

Can Malcolm Turnbull do climate and energy policy now?
AUSTRALIA – The re-elected Coalition government has the opportunity to revamp its policies on climate change. Transition of the energy sector is key if the 2030 emissions target is to be met. But with a razor-thin majority in Parliament, will Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have the appetite and internal authority to tackle the challenge?

Black lung: Nearly 20 more suspected cases of potentially deadly disease identified
AUSTRALIA – The Queensland Government has blamed systemic failures and wide-spread complacency for the re-emergence of black lung disease. Mines Minister Anthony Lynham has also announced 18 more suspected cases after X-rays were reviewed by health experts in the US.

Creating a new school culture in Kawerau (Audio 19:37)
NEW ZEALAND – The closure of both Kawerau College and Kawerau Intermediate resulted in the birth of Tarawera High School catering for students from year 7 to 13. The old high school was notorious, low achievement, high truancy and students falling foul of the law. But now things have changed, attendance and achievement has lifted.

Built Environment

How to make cities work better – here’s what the government needs to do
Australia’s prosperity depends on managing cities well. Contrary to our myths about rugged outback pioneers, Australia is highly urbanised, with the biggest share of population in its two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, of any developed nation. This is a good thing for our prosperity. Cities have more productivity growth than towns, and bigger cities more than smaller ones… But as cities grow, the negative impacts of interaction grow too. These include more pollution and more congestion per person. Governments need to make sure the positive impacts of cities outweigh the negatives.

New research centre to bring tall timber revolution to Queensland
The University of Queensland has teamed up with Arup, Lendlease, Hyne Timber and the state government to create a research centre tasked with bringing the tall timber construction revolution up north. The Centre for Future Timber Structures was opened on Tuesday by Queensland forestry minister Leanne Donaldson, and will research timber innovations for sustainable construction in the medium-rise tall buildings market.


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