Better stewardship key to survival

The release of the latest 1800-page Global Assessment report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform Services rams home the need for change in political approaches to environmental stewardship according to Democrats NSW Senate candidate Pete Mailler.

Mr Mailler said, “The report is a key informant for global and domestic policies around environmental stewardship. Australia is on the wrong side of the ledger in many of the key metrics around threats and extinction of mammals, birds, corals and ecosystems. Globally, government policies are failing and will continue to fail without a complete rethink of policies and systems for stewardship of our planet.”

The report cites some staggering figures around species declines with a million species threatened by extinction, over twenty percent of the world’s soils degraded, terrestrial and marine ecosystems declining with significant ramifications for our own species into the future.

Australia is leading in the worst ways when it comes to our collective environmental impacts.

Agricultural impacts are massive, and it is little wonder given the vast areas of the landscape under agriculture. In Australia our farmers manage over sixty percent of the landscape. The report also signals that landscape managers including farmers are the key to addressing and reversing the problems too.

The Australian Democrats advocate for empowerment of agriculture through stewardship incentives to provide commercial justification for long term management strategies to enhance ecoservices from the sector.

Mr Mailler said, “Agricultural practices are driven by a combination of market forces and public policy. All the pressure has been to force agriculture to increase productivity as the only strategy to offset declining terms of trade and the result is an inevitable decline in natural systems over time. Simply, agricultural markets do not reward or value sustainability and the pressure on farmers leads to short term strategies to survive.”

“Agriculture is not a business like any other. It is essential to feed our growing population, but political and consumer pressure to keep food cheap means long term sustainability is compromised and we are just stealing from our children if we continue down this path. We are all in this together and consumers must understand their role in pressures on agriculture and how it flows through to the environment.”

There is an unmet cost in sustainability that must be met if we want farmers and other landscape managers to deliver essential long term public good through ecoservices and better stewardship. It is hard to justify demonising and punishing farmers for behaviours market and policy structures society constructed around agriculture has incentivized in the first place.

“Practice change is better achieved with carrots than with sticks. In the past the political approach has been to introduce legislative sticks, it is not working, and our planet is at risk. Both major parties are out of touch with the people who can best deliver the results we need, and their policies are inappropriate.”

“The Australian Democrats are committed to using the best available science to inform policy response that are essential to our future. We are committed to honesty and accountability in the political process. On climate and environmental issues, we are committed to empowering and rewarding landscape managers, including farmers, to deliver ecoservices essential to our future and this will yield the necessary practice change.”

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/Public Release.