Sunshine Coast Council will seek international accreditation for its approach to balancing the environment, economic and community priorities, by progressing a UNESCO Biosphere nomination.
Mayor Mark Jamieson described council’s decision at its March Ordinary Meeting to progress with community consultation to inform its biosphere nomination as an historic moment and the culmination of many years of work.
“A biosphere designation would help to reinforce our environmental, social and economic objectives and our commitment to preserving our outstanding natural assets for current and future generations,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“Council recognises the need to amplify the work we are doing to maintain and enhance our natural environment and a UNESCO Biosphere accreditation will provide important third party acknowledgement of our commitment in this area.
“We have the runs on the board to achieve this independent, international recognition.
“We’ve strategically enhanced our conservation estate to more than 6750 hectares since 2012, acquiring more land than any of our predecessor councils in the region and we have more than 1100 Land for Wildlife partnerships with our community.
“Our region boasts an extensive open space network that provides recreational areas for residents and connecting corridors for our fauna. At least 85% of the Sunshine Coast sits outside the urban footprint.
“This assists in providing a highly desirable “backdrop” for our region, enhancing its liveability and is something that we do not want to see compromised into the future.
“We are Australia’s first local government to offset 100% of its electricity use through renewable energy generated by our Sunshine Coast Solar Farm.
“This Council won the 2018 Smart Cities Leadership City Award in recognition of our liveability, workability and sustainability outcomes from technology and data solutions.
“Added to that, we will provide eastern Australia’s fastest data connection to South East Asia as a result of our international broadband cable project which will provide the platform to develop Australia’s first digital trade hub.
“These are significant breakthroughs, demonstrating that this council is focused on creating a natural synergy between our environment, our community and our economy.
“All are afforded equal focus as we strive to realise our vision to be Australia’s most sustainable region – healthy, smart and creative.”
Mayor Jamieson said council would continue advocating for the protection of the inter-urban break which straddled the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay local government areas and also accommodated the region’s very important forestry activities and other agricultural uses.
“Council is aiming to set a new standard on how we deliver the objectives of a biosphere, and will continue encouraging industries which have minimal environmental impacts, to establish in our region.
“We will also attract tourists to the Sunshine Coast thanks to the image we are projecting on the world stage.”
Mayor Jamieson said a number of years of work had culminated in council’s Environment and Liveability Strategy which sits alongside the Regional Economic Development Plan and the Community Strategy.
“Biospheres are areas where active conservation complements responsible development and people living sustainably – just like our region,” he said.
“We’re an ideal candidate for a biosphere. We have a coordinated and cohesive plan which ticks all the boxes in a balanced way and our synchronised region will be the envy of other parts in the world.”
Mayor Jamieson said it would be a two year process for the nomination become a reality.
“I urge the community to get behind our nomination and join us in celebrating people and nature.”
Community consultation is open until June 28.
Residents can learn about biospheres and be part of the consultation by visiting council’s website: haveyoursay.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au
Image: J Hill