Australia sets ambitious targets for environmental conservation and circular economy development

By Liam Taylor 24 June 2024

Australia has committed to ambitious national targets aimed at preserving biodiversity and fostering a sustainable circular economy.

Australia’s Environment Ministers convened last week and agreed to progress pivotal measures toward a nature-positive future and Australia’s shift to a circular economy.

In a landmark decision, ministers from all Australian jurisdictions have endorsed comprehensive measures to support the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

National biodiversity targets

One of the key initiatives outlined is the "30 by 30" target, which aims to protect and conserve 30 per cent of Australia’s landmass and 30per cent of its marine areas by the year 2030. This initiative underscores Australia’s commitment to safeguarding its natural heritage for future generations. Additionally, ministers have pledged to prioritise the restoration of degraded areas by 2030, aiming to enhance the resilience of ecosystems across the continent.

Australia’s commitment extends further to ensuring no new extinctions occur and minimising the impacts of climate change on biodiversity. Efforts will also focus on eradicating or controlling invasive species in designated priority landscapes by 2030, thereby safeguarding native flora and fauna from external threats.

Circular economy framework

In parallel to these conservation efforts, ministers have advanced discussions on Australia’s National Circular Economy Framework, set to be finalised by December 2024. This framework aims to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy, promoting the efficient use of resources across key sectors such as manufacturing, food and agriculture, and the built environment.

Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures (OECMs)

In a significant move, ministers have approved Australia’s first national framework for recognising ‘other effective area-based conservation measures’ (OECMs). This framework allows areas outside formal protected zones to contribute to the "30 by 30" target if managed effectively for conservation purposes. It provides a structured approach for landholders and investors to participate in biodiversity conservation efforts, including through initiatives like the Nature Repair Market.

Regional planning and threat abatement

Acknowledging the importance of coordinated action, ministers have endorsed national threat abatement plans targeting invasive species such as feral cats, goats, and escaped garden plants. These plans aim to mitigate the detrimental impact of these species on Australia’s native wildlife and ecosystems.

Additionally, ministers have underscored the significance of regional planning frameworks in balancing conservation objectives with sustainable development priorities. This approach aims to streamline environmental approvals and guide development projects towards areas with minimal ecological impact.

Moving forward

Looking ahead, Australia remains committed to finalising its updated Strategy for Nature, incorporating these ambitious national targets and frameworks ahead of the 16th Conference of the Parties in October 2024. Public consultation on the draft National 30 by 30 Roadmap is underway, outlining pathways for achieving the conservation goals set for the next decade.

These initiatives highlight a concerted effort towards building a nature-positive future while promoting sustainable economic practices through a circular economy approach.

Liam Taylor
Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia. Joining the communications team at Planet Ark, he hopes to inspire positive environmental behaviour through effective and positive messaging.