Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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In today’s top story, scientists and political commentator Annabel Crabb voice their frustrations over the political situation in Australia, as we potentially face another leadership challenge this morning. In other news, a global compact for migration sounds like a good idea but of course, some countries are opposed, and meanwhile children on Nauru suffer from Resignation Syndrome; Tasmania tries to balance the hunting of feral deer with World Heritage Area protection while West Coast New Zealanders are in a pickle as the decline of coal jobs hurts a small community and it looks to tourism to build their economy; NZ Fish & Game realises the wild salmon fisheries are in trouble with up to 90% decline in numbers since 2000; and a warning the world’s food waste could reach two billion tonnes by 2030, while Catalyst is back looking at sustainable food futures.

Top Story

Australia burns while politicians fiddle with the leadership | The Conversation
With swathes of New South Wales still smouldering and temperature records tumbling all over the world, Malcolm Turnbull is losing his grip on the prime ministership, partly because of his inability to land a very modest emissions policy. His is the latest failure in a decade-long story of broken climate policy in Australia. Like most voters, scientists are tired of these political games when clearly so much more is on the line.

See also: Australia’s recent climate change policy: A brief history of seven killings by Annabel Crabb | ABC News

Environment and Biodiversity

Sanctuary being built to bring extinct animals into south-west NSW | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – Ten native mammals that have been extinct in New South Wales for more than a century will be introduced to a national nark in the state’s south-west. The rewilding project, a partnership between the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) and the State Government, is at Mallee Cliffs National Park, on the NSW side of the border near Mildura. A 36-kilometre fence will give the bridled nailtail wallaby, brush-tailed bettong, burrowing bettong, greater bilby, greater stick-nest rat, Mitchell’s hopping mouse, numbat, red-tailed phascogale, western barred bandicoot and western quoll a 9,600-hectare haven that is free from predators.

The weird, wonderful and worrying world of sea snakes | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – Hundreds of kilometres from the northern coast of Western Australia, lies an idyllic underwater wilderness. Expeditions to Ashmore reef in the 60s and 70s revealed the area was home to more sea snakes — in species and in numbers — than anywhere else in the world. A veritable hotspot of sea snake biodiversity, with over 10 different species all cohabitating on the same remote patch of protected coral reef. Then, they were gone.

"Alarming" disappearances of sea snakes off Western Australia made scientists realise they had a lot to learn about these mysterious marine reptiles. (Supplied: Gabriel Guzman)

“Alarming” disappearances of sea snakes off Western Australia made scientists realise they had a lot to learn about these mysterious marine reptiles. (Supplied: Gabriel Guzman)

Decision to expand deer hunting in Tasmanian parks slammed as ‘not proper management’ | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – The Tasmanian Government’s plan to open up national parks to deer hunting is not a credible way to deal with the harm fallow deer are causing, the Wilderness Society says. The Government on Wednesday said it would provide access to additional hunting areas by next deer season and include national parks, new sections of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and conservation areas.

Fish and Game suggests catch restrictions as salmon numbers decline |
New Zealand’s wild salmon fishery is in crisis and needs urgent action to save it according to Fish and Game New Zealand’s chief executive Martin Taylor. In a letter to the South Island Fish and Game councils, Taylor says there is a need to introduce new regulations and address key issues facing salmon fisheries…”We firmly believe the salmon fishery is in crisis and if urgency is not taken, the fishery will cease altogether,” Taylor says.

Economy and Business

Warning over tourism torrent for fragile caves | Newsroom
NEW ZEALAND – Government tasked officials and consultants with creating a plan to turn its economic fortunes around. The Coast’s economy had shrunk by about $200 million, at a loss of 900 jobs, over three years. It needed a plan to diversify, build on existing industries, and attract and retain talent, lest it continue to be at the mercy of international commodity prices.

Tourism West Coast wants the spectacular Oparara Arches, in Kahurangi National Park, to become a destination for domestic and international tourists. Photo: Neil Silverwood

Tourism West Coast wants the spectacular Oparara Arches, in Kahurangi National Park, to become a destination for domestic and international tourists. Photo: Neil Silverwood

Waste and the Circular Economy

By 2030 we could throw away more than 2 billion tonnes of food | World Economic Forum
Food waste could rise by almost a third by 2030 when more than 2 billion tonnes will be binned, researchers said on Tuesday, warning of a “staggering” crisis propelled by a booming world population and changing habits in developing nations. The United Nations has set a target of halving food loss and waste by 2030. But the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study found that if current trends continued, it would rise to 2.1 billion tonnes annually – an amount worth $1.5 trillion.

Politics and Society

3 reasons all countries should embrace the Global Compact for Migration | World Economic Forum
The Global Compact for Migration, which is expected to be adopted in December, is the first ever attempt to develop an internationally shared vision of what safe, orderly and regular migration might look like, and how it could be achieved. The Australian government has recently signalled the possibility that it may withdraw from the process – which would make it the third UN member state after the US and Hungary to do so. There is a risk that others may follow, jeopardizing a fragile, hard-won consensus at its most critical stage. This is the case for the Global Compact that deserves to be heard.

Explainer: what is resignation syndrome and why is it affecting refugee children? | The Conversation
Reports from Nauru are raising concerns about an outbreak of a severe trauma-related mental disorder known as traumatic withdrawal syndrome, or resignation syndrome. Recent legal action resulted in urgent medical evacuation of a child in an unconscious state following a progressive social withdrawal and failure to speak, eat or drink. The child was unresponsive, dehydrated and at risk of death from the physical complications of this extreme state.

Why and how retailers turn everyday items into ‘must-have’ collectables | The Conversation
Coles’ recent “Little Shop collectables” promotion has proved a hit with consumers, with entire sets of the toy products selling online for exorbitant prices. This success is interesting given recent conversations and media coverage around plastic bag bans and reducing packaging in retailing. But campaigns such as these are linked with the psychology about why some of us love to collect and why some items become collectable.


Green energy tariffs ‘no longer an expensive luxury’, study finds | The Guardian
UK – Green tariffs now account for many of the cheapest deals on the energy market, despite many consumers still wrongly believing renewable energy deals are more expensive. Half of the top 10 cheapest tariffs are green ones offered by challenger suppliers taking on the big six.

Community retailer Enova to pilot Bryon Bay microgrid | One Step Off The Grid
AUSTRALIA – NSW community-owned retailer Enova Energy has revealed plans to develop a microgrid in its home town of Byron Bay, as a trial to encourage the roll-out of locally generated, stored and distributed power. The pilot project, which will be installed at the Byron Arts & Industry Estate, is expected to encompass between 20 and 30 participants and will be carried out over approximately two years.

Sydney Airport turns to wind energy for 75 per cent of supply | RenewEconomy
AUSTRALIA – Sydney Airport has decided to turn to wind energy to reduce its electricity costs and lower emissions, and has signed a contract with Origin Energy that will result in three-quarters of its electricity supply coming from the Crudine Ridge wind farm in central west NSW.

India coal project cancellations snowballing | RenewEconomy
Back in 2010, India’s coal pipeline stood at well over 600GW, a number to have every coal industry executive and ideologically-inclined Coalition backbencher drooling. Between 2010 and June 2018 India’s coal-fired power station pipeline saw shelved and cancelled projects totalling a staggering 573GW.

Tesla powerpack promises 100% renewable energy in Samoa | Climate Action Programme
Samoa, a nation in the heart of Polynesia, is transforming to 100 per cent renewable energy. The region will run on solar and wind power optimised by Tesla’s electricity grid controller to decrease diesel consumption and increase renewable generation. The grid controller gives the utility real-time control over grid stability, reliability and security. Recently, the demand for fossil fuel alternatives has increased in Samoa following fluctuating energy prices, natural disasters and increased knowledge of the importance of renewable resources.

Built Environment

Support urgently needed for Storer’s bill to make rental housing bearable in extremes | The Fifth Estate
AUSTRALIA – A private members bill tabled in the Senate this week by Independent South Australian senator Tim Storer is designed to remove the split incentive in the tax system that perversely stops property owners from making affordable housing bearable in extreme temperatures. It proposes a tax offset of up to $2000 a year for energy efficiency activities by owners of properties that are rented out for $300 a week or less.

Food Systems

US retailers taking strides on sustainable seafood | Climate Action Programme
USA – A new report from Greenpeace has found US retailers making a marked improvement on the sustainability of their sea produce. The report, called Carting Away the Oceans, is an update on a previous study by the non-profit conducted 10 years ago. At the time, no retailers passed their assessment for sustainability; today, 90 per cent received “passing scores”, according to Greenpeace.

Catalyst: Feeding Australia: A sustainable future (Part 2) | ABC TV (Episode 57m)
AUSTRALIA – We’re a nation with a big appetite and, as the population moves towards 40 million by 2050, it’s only going to get bigger. Chef Paul West, Nutritionist Professor Clare Collins and Dr Noby Leong reveal how technology is set to transform food production. Not just by growing more but by making more of what we grow and by future proofing our precious crops against an uncertain future.

Part 1: Feeding Australia: Foods of Tomorrow (Episode 56m)