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Statement in response to Australian Government State of the Environment report 2016

On Tuesday 7 March the Australian Government released its fifth State of the Environment report (SoE). The AEGN recognises the significance of this report, which is prepared by independent scientists and released every five years. This year’s edition presents a bleak outlook and demands an urgent and catalytic response. The State of the Environment report ensures that the health of Australia’s environment is tracked, reviewed and reported on. It provides recommendations so that policy makers, the public and philanthropy can direct scarce resources and efforts where they are most needed. The report highlights serious declines since the SoE 2011 in many areas of concern to philanthropists who are members of the AEGN. These include the continued loss of Australia’s unique flora and fauna, land clearing, invasive species and urban development. New and emerging threats are also highlighted, including significant increases in marine waste, particularly micro plastics. However, one area that affects all aspects of humanity is the escalating impact of climate change. The report demonstrates some improvements, including conservation covenants with private landowners, citizen science and Indigenous Protected Areas. Many of these improvements are the result of individual and community action, often with philanthropic support. Amanda Martin, CEO of the AEGN said: “A healthy environment is the bedrock of our economy and our wellbeing. Armed with the knowledge presented in the SoE 2016, the AEGN calls upon the philanthropic sector, and those who desire a healthier environment, to be bigger and bolder in their funding. The impact on humanity will be irreversible if we do not act now in a bold and strategic way. Philanthropy has the opportunity to play a key role in turning this around over the next decade. “It is vital that philanthropy continues to recognise and support leaders who are taking on these environmental challenges. We are equipped with a skilled and effective community sector which is the powerhouse of change, and a scientific sector which is world-renowed for its environmental research and policy application. Philanthropy can support these people and organisations so that they can help lead the transition into a new era where we are not reliant on fossil fuels and can care properly for our natural world. “Many donors ask the question ‘but what can I do that will make a difference?’ The AEGN, its members and expert advisers can help donors identify solutions where philanthropy can make a difference.” AEGN member Rob Purves from the Purves Environment Fund said, “After years of funding in the environment, I know that my funds must go to the most important environmental issues in a strategic and targeted way. The State of the Environment report provides a very clear message that climate change, land management and marine plastics are the issues I need to be funding.” The State of the Environment report will provide the focus of this year’s AEGN conference to be held at Cargo Hall, Melbourne from 2-4 May 2017.   Topics at the AEGN conference will include:
  • The big environmental challenges for the next five years
  • Where philanthropic funding is best allocated
  • Where have we made progress – why and why not?
  • The latest on climate, coasts, marine, biodiversity, inland waters and the built environment
  • International trends and how we should respond to them
  • How we can collaborate and amplify our impact
  Speakers will include: Peter Cosier, Director and Member, Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists. Professor Lesley Hughes, Distinguished Professor of Biology and Pro Vice-Chancellor Research at Macquarie University, Councillor with the Climate Council of Australia. Doug Humann AM, Chairman, Landcare Australia. Professor Ian Lowe, Emeritus Professor of Science, Technology and Society at Griffith University. Professor Jessica Meeuwig, Inaugural Director of the Centre for Marine Futures, University of Western Australia, Conservation Fellow of the Zoological Society of London. Kelly O’Shannassy, CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation. Professor David Schlosberg, Professor of Environmental Politics, Co-director Sydney Environment Institute, Sydney University. Dr John Spierings, Executive Officer, Reichstein Foundation. Professor John Thwaites, Chair Monash Sustainable Development Institute and Co-Chair of the Leadership Council of the global Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Dr Barry Traill, Director, Outback to Oceans Program, Pew Charitable Trusts. For full conference program and registrations: For more information on the State of the Environment report: