Since its inception in 1959, the ESA has dedicated itself to promoting ecology, supporting the application of ecological principles to protect and conserve ecosystems, and promoting the exchange of ecological knowledge for education and cultural development. We remain strongly committed to fulfilling this mission, and stand ready to work alongside our nation’s institutions and leaders to address the challenges before us.
The ESA is calling on our nation’s leaders and those seeking election to commit to five urgent actions:
- Strengthen the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act (1999) (EPBC Act) to provide a robust framework for upholding environmental protection and accountability;
- Implement evidence-based development of policy and decisions, informed by best available ecological science;
- Increase Commonwealth investment in environmental spending to a minimum of 2% of GDP;
- Develop mechanisms for increased representation of Indigenous communities in ecosystem policy and management decisions; and
- Make Australia a top 10 global investor in research and development by increasing Commonwealth investment in the Science and Innovation portfolio to at least 3% of GDP, with clear mechanisms for funding long-term research.
Australia is home to a wealth of unique environments that are a cornerstone of our national character, and vital to the ongoing wellbeing and prosperity of our country.
The continuation of this wealth is under severe threat: Australia is a world leader in extinction of species, while rates of land clearing and degradation are alarmingly high and other major threats like invasive species place Australia’s natural wealth in a precarious position. Reversing our environmental crisis and ensuring people and nature thrive together on Earth is the grandest challenge for all societies.
The need for effective, evidence-based environmental leadership and action is greater than ever. Australia is well-equipped to deliver this if it chooses.
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Why release an election message?
The purpose of the ESA is ‘to promote the ecological discipline in all its forms, to support the application of the principles in ecology to protect and conserve ecological systems, and to promote the exchange of ecological knowledge for educational purposes and cultural development’.
Australia is now a world-leader in species decline and extinction, and habitat degradation. We have seen Commonwealth Government investment in the Environment slashed from $1.4 billion in 2013/14 to $945 million in 2017/18. As it stands, further cuts projected to 2020/21 could translate to a reduction of up to 65% in federal spending on environment and biodiversity. Alongside this, public investment in science is now at a 40-year low, with insufficient growth in STEM-qualified graduates to meet future job needs.
In this context, the ESA has released this statement to draw attention to key issues for the protection and conservation of Australia’s ecosystems, to highlight the contribution of ecology in delivering solutions that can help Australia, and to promote the exchange of ecological knowledge with the wider community and those seeking to govern our country.
We are not seeking to endorse political parties or candidates, nor to advise anyone on who to vote for. We are seeking to stimulate dialogue about matters that affect the future practice of ecology as part of Australia’s STEM sector, and matters that influence Australia’s ecosystems.