Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
If you like what you see, you are welcome to sign up (on the right) for free sustainable development news delivered direct to your inbox each weekday morning.

Top Story

Britain’s forests, soil and rivers worth £1.6tn, says environment secretary
Britain’s forests, soil and riversare worth at least £1.6tn and should be quantified in the same way as the country’s man-made infrastructure, the environment secretary, Liz Truss, has said. In a move which embraces the natural capital agenda, Truss said that trees and bees should be valued as “national assets” in the same way as structures such as the Forth rail bridge in Scotland.

Energy and Climate Change

Federal Government approves Adani coal mine in Galilee Basin
One of the world’s largest coal mines, certainly Australia’s biggest, is a step closer to operating in Queensland following environmental approval from the Federal Government this afternoon. The nod comes after a lengthy court process during which a previous approval for the Carmichael mine was scrapped on legal grounds. The Government says the project will bring much-needed jobs to central Queensland, but green groups are predicting it’ll cause huge environmental damage.

Collapse of Antarctic ice shelves would see thousands of years of sea-level rise
The world will be locked into thousands of years of unstoppable sea level rise from melting Antarctic ice if it doesn’t cut emissions and prevent another two degrees of global warming, scientists have warned. New projections by Australian and New Zealand-based scientists, which were published in the journal Nature on Thursday, find the additional warming of the planet and oceans would trigger a collapse of crucial natural barriers that protect Antarctica’s massive 14 million square kilometre ice sheet.

Gary Taylor: Taking big steps with carbon footprints
NEW ZEALAND – As we approach the crucial Paris Climate Change meeting in December, it’s worth reflecting on how far the world has moved in addressing climate change. It’s a long-lived policy challenge, one that will take decades to fix and longer to measure success or failure. Sometimes we can be too negative in our perceptions when the reality is that we are making progress.

Watts meet bytes: the new energy frontier
Murray Hogarth tackled the emerging “Internet of Energy Things” at the All Energy conference earlier this month.

Traditional environmental journalism in the 1990s didn’t prepare me for the extraordinary convergence of clean energy technologies and information and communications technologies now under way. Nor did corporate sustainability strategy consulting in the 2000s. Now in an evolving new career guise with Wattwatchers, a digital energy start-up company, many conversations quickly move to the point where I’m compelled to make a standard disclaimer: “I’m not the tech guy!” Far from it, in truth, and much better identified as a techno dummy. Fortunately I’m not the only one who is scrambling to understand and navigate the new energy frontier where watts meet bytes.

Environment and Biodiversity

Rising seas threaten to drown important mangrove forests, unless we intervene
Mangroves are some of the world’s most important trees. They provide food and resources for people and animals, protect coasts, and store huge amounts of carbon. The world’s largest mangrove forest – the Sundarbans in the Bay of Bengal – supports millions of livelihoods. In terms of the services they provide, they are worth nearly US$200,000 per hectare per year. But these coastal forests are threatened by rising seas and human development. In a study published today in Nature, we show that some of these forests will drown unless we help them.

Tapping into Nature: The future of energy, innovation and business
Nearly all living things rely on diffuse and transient flows of energy and materials. And yet, life thrives. Organisms are able to procure materials and assemble themselves — essentially constructing “technologies” — using only resources that are locally available. Increasingly, innovative companies are looking to the living world for inspiration and direction. Nature provides a rich yet largely unexplored library of technologies that process and manage information, materials and energy.

Dog hot on trail of invaders
NEW ZEALAND – An excitable puppy turned over to the SPCA has found a new calling in life – as a rainbow skink detector dog. Teal, a Siberian husky cross, is one of the pack of dogs Bay of Plenty man Guus Knopers is training to track down the small Australian lizards, which are a threat to New Zealand’s native flora and fauna.

Reality TV kaka family face real life battle to survive
NEW ZEALAND – A young kaka family starring in their own reality TV show face a real-life battle for survival as predators circle the nest.  In the dappled forest of a Wellington City Council reserve, George the black cat stalks and wanders beneath the nesting box protecting five kaka chicks. His presence highlights the peril the young chicks will face when they leave the sanctuary of the nest. Council park ranger Matt Robertson said cats and off-leashed dogs posed the greatest threat to birds especially when they first left the nest.

Economy and Business

9 supply chain tech companies you should know
In the Wild West of global supply chains — complex production networks notorious for outsourcing jobs, unaddressed safety hazards and myriad inefficiencies — gadgets such as smartphones and sensors might seem an unnecessary distraction. The wave of companies jumping into the supply chain technology market would beg to differ. Both existing logistics companies and a range of upstarts are rolling out products designed to trace materials back to their source, increase transparency into day-to-day supplier operations and reduce the unnecessarily wasteful journeys of products headed to their final destinations.

Toyota targets 90% emissions reduction by 2050
Japanese carmaker Toyota has unveiled a series of ambitious new environmental targets with an overall aim to eliminate the use of gasoline cars and cut average carbon emissions from all of its vehicles and products by more than 90% by 2050.  The company has set up the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050, which lists six challenges the company will incorporate over the next 35 years.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Work begins on developing action plan to cut food waste
UK – The development of an action plan to cut food waste has begun following a meeting involving a number of industry stakeholders. Initiated by WRAP, a meeting has been held in Birmingham to maximise the amount of household and commercial food waste collected and recycled in England.

Politics and Society

How to rebuild higher education in countries torn apart by war
Universities are almost always among the casualties when a country goes to war. Ultimately, they become hotbeds of repression. As conflict deepens, academic freedom is threatened or curtailed. Teachers, researchers and students flee, prompting a brain drain their countries can ill afford. Buildings are bombed. Sometimes entire campuses are destroyed… After a long conflict, universities simply cannot produce the human capital that is needed to begin repairing a country. Post-conflict planning rarely talks about rebuilding higher education systems and institutions. It is simply not a priority. It should be. Quality higher education is crucial for recovery, peace building, economic development and stronger governance in post-conflict societies.

Four Charts That Illustrate The Extent Of World Poverty
The share of people living in poverty around the world has dropped in the past three decades, but over a quarter of the world’s population still doesn’t earn enough to have reliable access to food. And a billion people are extremely poor, earning less than $1.25 a day.

Exclude criminal records from job applications, companies urged
A little box can be a daunting thing. For many of the 10 million people with a criminal conviction, job application forms are cause for despair. Obligated to declare their criminal record, ex-offenders face the extra hurdle of having to tick a disclosure box when applying for work. One business-led charity believes the system needs to change, as it leaves too many people excluded at an early stage in the recruitment process.

Bias risk in environmental protection agency change, Parliament told
NEW ZEALAND – A bill that aims to reinforce the role of the Government’s environmental protection agency could result in a bias against mining and oil drilling applications, an energy company says. Labour MP Meka Whaitiri’s private member’s bill would make sure that protecting, maintaining and enhancing the environment was explicitly stated as one of the Environmental Protection Authority’s goals.

Propaganda trumps journalism in conservative media climate reporting
A study’s results are badly mischaracterized by The Register, Express, and Breitbart to push a political agenda of climate denial.

Government blamed as third UK solar power installer goes bust
Another solar company has gone out of business, blaming the government for “killing off” support for the industry. Southern Solar, which has offices in areas including London and south Wales, has gone into administration. The Guardian revealed on Wednesday that the company was set to go into liquidation.

Built Environment

The Tipping Point: Cities on the edge
This is a transcript of an Utzon Lecture speech delivered by Professor Sue Holliday on 14 October.

AUSTRALIA – The new Minister for Cities and the Built Environment, Jamie Briggs says, “We’ve got globally competitive cites.” We do. But for how long? He goes on to say that as eight out of every 10 Australian lives in a city, policies to make our cities work are crucial. I agree. In 1978 when I arrived in Sydney, the city was 2.5 million people. Today, its 4.5m. When I’m 100, it will be 8m people. The decisions we make today will determine the kind of city we will have then. We are at a tipping point. Either Sydney will become even more congested and less affordable, or we will transform the way our city works for us. Which do we want?

Denman Prospect to be Australia’s first mandated solar suburb
AUSTRALIA – One of the ACT’s newest suburbs, Denman Prospect, is believed to be the first in Australia where the developer has mandated the installation of solar panels for every dwelling and committed to donating a percentage of every land sale and house sale to fight homelessness. The ACT government selected Capital Estate Development, a development arm of the prominent Snow family’s Capital Airport Corporation, to develop the first half of the suburb. It comprises approximately 145 hectares of predominantly north-facing land overlooking the Molonglo River Valley and the National Arboretum.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.