Sustainable Development News

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

Can the advertising industry sell us waste-free living?
It was diving in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia that sparked Andy Ridley’s interest in environmental issues. Shocked at its state, he joined WWF and went on to launch Earth Hour in 2007, the huge climate change awareness campaign that sees buildings in 7,000 cities turn off their lights. Now, in his new role as CEO of Circular Economy, a Netherlands-based social enterprise, Ridley wants to build a similar global grassroots movement to accelerate the circular economy.

Energy and Climate Change

2016’s the warmest year ever, so far
The first six months of 2016 will be the warmest start to a year on record in New Zealand, due to a combination of climate change, exceptionally warm seas and more northerlies than usual. Niwa climate scientist Dr Brett Mullan said on Tuesday that with two more days to go until the end of June there was no chance of a big enough cold snap to push 2016 out of first place.

Bipartisan movement makes Iowa leader in wind energy
Iowa state officials long have supported renewables. The result? Big companies are creating new facilities there, citing clean energy as the reason.

How demand-response is delivering big energy reductions for Saint-Gobain
UK construction material manufacturer Saint-Gobain has made a total saving of £165,000 and experienced an 11% fall in energy demand across its 20 sites in the UK and Ireland, after powering down its factories at peak energy periods.

Environment and Biodiversity

Cecil the lion’s legacy: death brings new hope for his grandcubs
“I think Cecil is the biggest global wildlife story there has ever been,” says Prof David Macdonald, director of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (Wildcru) which runs the project, and who has analysed the media coverage. “It went viral in a way that was unprecedented.” The result was donations of over $1m from 12,000 individuals to Wildcru, which relies solely on benefactors. Now, says Macdonald: “We are hoping to make the Cecil moment become a Cecil movement.”

Reserve with rare gorillas finally protected
The calamitous civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has killed more than five million people. It has also nearly wiped out populations of the world’s largest primate — the Grauer’s gorilla. From an estimated 17,000 individuals in 1995, Grauer’s numbers have fallen to less than 4,000 today, thanks to prolonged civil unrest, illegal hunting and habitat destruction due to mining, a study published in April this year found. But now, these rare gorillas have a reason to cheer. Last Thursday, on June 23, the provincial governor of South Kivu formally approved the boundaries of the Itombwe Reserve in eastern DRC, according to a media statement by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

Atkins Ciwem environmental photographer of the year 2016 – the winners in pictures
The overall awards winners have been announced in the 2016 Atkins Ciwem environmental photographer of the year competition, an annual international showcase for thought-provoking photography and video that tackles a wide range of environmental themes. A shortlist of 60 images has also been chosen from more than 10,000 entries for an exhibition that will run at the Royal Geographical Society, London, from 29 June to 22 August 2016.

The Atkins built environment award 2016 goes to Indian photojournalist SL Kumar Shanth for ‘Losing Ground to Manmade Disaster’, which depicts the damage being wrought on the coastline at Chennai, the biggest metropolis in southern India, by a combination of man-made and natural forces.

The Atkins built environment award 2016 goes to Indian photojournalist SL Kumar Shanth for ‘Losing Ground to Manmade Disaster’, which depicts the damage being wrought on the coastline at Chennai, the biggest metropolis in southern India, by a combination of man-made and natural forces. Photograph: S L Shanth Kumar/2016 EPOTY

NSW land-clearing laws ‘a failure’ after even farmers come out in opposition
AUSTRALIA – The Baird government’s plan to loosen land-clearing laws in the state may struggle to get through Parliament, with the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party indicating they will heed opposition to the new bill from farmers. NSW Farmers, the industry’s peak body, has demanded “drastic changes” to the draft biodiversity bill before it would give its support to cut “red tape” further.

Australia’s environmental peril revealed in five charts
As Australians prepare to vote in federal election, the country’s environmental challenges are only increasing. Here are five key charts.

Economy and Business

A $64 trillion question: Can the global C-Suite break through?
We are thrilled to announce a new Business Innovation Platform, co-evolved with the United Nations Global Compact and going live in September. It feels like a (very timely) quantum leap. Secretly, too, I hope that some of the compact’s members, to whom the initiative will be directed, will find the initiative disturbing. Let me explain why.

Cathay Pacific bans shark fin shipments
Airline Cathay Pacific joined a growing number of air carriers to ban shipments of shark fin.  The move, announced last week, came in response to a campaign by WildAid, a wildlife advocacy group that is targeting the global wildlife trade. “On the issue of shark’s fin, with immediate effect we are happy to agree to ban the carriage,” Cathay Pacific said in a statement. The airline added that prior to last week’s ban, it had rejected “all 15 shipment requests for shark-related products in the last 12 months.”

New Brand Seeks to Disrupt Luxury Fashion with Full Transparency – Even on the Price Tag
New fashion brand Oliver Cabell is “seeking to disrupt the luxury fashion business” with an unmatched level of transparency around its products. Exclusively available online, each product’s page on the company’s website details where the item was made and the costs that went into it, including the brand’s mark-up. By working directly with Italian factories and using quality materials and responsible manufacturing processes, Oliver Cabell says it is able to offer high-quality products at a fraction of traditional luxury prices.

DoC ‘pressured’ over chopper landings
NEW ZEALAND – Tourism and aviation industries put the Department of Conservation under significant pressure to allow more helicopter landings on glacier and snow sites, according to official documents. The department is allowing a trial to go ahead to increase the number of landings on the Fiordland National Park’s most popular glacier site, the Ngapunatoru Plateau landing site also known as the Tutoko glacier to go from 14 a day to 80 a day.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Scientists squeeze last drops of shampoo out of bottle with bio-inspired surface
Ever get frustrated at not being able to get out those last drops of shampoo from the bottle? Relief may be at hand. Scientists have taken a leaf out of nature to design a bio-inspired surface that ensures sticky liquids like shampoo and detergent slide cleanly out of their bottles.

Politics and Society

Policy primers: what you need to know before election day
Before Australians go to vote on Saturday, The Conversation’s editors have assembled a guide to 11 key policy areas that could swing the vote. What are the parties promising on issues ranging from tax to education to infrastructure?
More: How to vote for renewable energy in Saturday’s election | Renew Economy

Sydney commits to net zero by 2050
The NSW Government may be holding out on the global move to net zero, but it isn’t stopping the City of Sydney, which on Monday night passed an environmental action plan committing the entire local government area to net zero emissions by 2050.

Climate change: communities and councils fill void on zero emissions targets
Communities and councils are filling the void left by the federal government on ambitious climate action. Many are frustrated by the government’s lack of progress on climate change and instead are getting on with the job themselves. A survey conducted by Beyond Zero Emissions of 152 councils across Australia shows that almost one in five of the councils surveyed have set their own zero emissions or 100% renewable energy targets.

UK ministers to approve world-leading carbon emissions target
Fears had been raised by green groups and industry that the EU referendum would cause the UK government to miss a deadline on Thursday for accepting carbon targets from its statutory climate advisers.  But a Whitehall source has confirmed that the so-called fifth carbon budget – put forward by the Committee on Climate Change last November – will be agreed before the month is out, as legally required by the Climate Change Act. The move commits the UK to a 57% cut in emissions by 2032, on 1990 levels.

Hemp is eco-friendly. So why won’t the government let farmers grow it?
Rob Jungmann wants to see everyone in a hemp t-shirt by 2020. That’s the tagline for his hemp-loving company Jungmaven . The conservationist and entrepreneur wants to convince Americans that hemp should be in their wardrobes as much as cotton. And his campaign comes at the right time. On July 4, a petition will be delivered to Congress urging them to pass the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015/2016 (S.134 and H.R. 525), legalizing the cultivation of industrial hemp in the US.

10% richest Kiwis own 60% of NZ’s wealth
Wealth in New Zealand is the most unevenly distributed it has been in over a decade, but the government is downplaying the latest figures, saying household wealth is consistent with figures over the past 20 to 30 years. Opposition parties, however, say the government needs to make fixing inequality a priority.

Built Environment

Ground-breaking ‘net zero’ buildings project launched by WorldGBC
All of the world’s buildings will be ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050, under a bold, pioneering plan unveiled today (28 June) by the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC). Building on a commitment made at the Paris Agreement last December, WorldGBC’s Advancing Net Zero project will call upon the global built environment sector to reduce emissions by more than 84 gigatonnes of CO2 over the next 35 years through the construction of net zero buildings and deep renovation of existing properties.

The Greens’ public housing solar policy deserves serious consideration
As a mathematician there is always something exciting about any election campaign…one policy the Greens unveiled recently has got me really excited: installing solar panels on all public and community housing. The federal government has had the silly mantra of “Jobs and Growth” repeated ad nauseam. What jobs will we create, and growth in what? If it is simply GDP then what does that mean to people? As a mathematician I look for the equilibrium solution, not the continual growth solution.

Sustainability and community win at state architecture awards
State architecture awards held last week in Victoria, Tasmania and the Northern Territory all agreed on one thing: a focus on community and sustainability is key to quality projects.

The Geelong Library & Heritage Centre. Image: John Gollings

The Geelong Library & Heritage Centre. Image: John Gollings

 Food Systems

Great Barrier Reef: North Queensland farmers trial cow guts and molasses fertiliser to reduce run-off
Farmers in north Queensland are turning to natural fertilisers to boost productivity and help protect the Great Barrier Reef, but there are concerns without more support years of progress could be lost. Will Lucas farms cane near Home Hill, south of Townsville, and has begun trialling bio-fertilisers, which can be brewed from a range of ingredients, including cow guts and molasses.


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