1370.0.00.002 - Measures of Australia's Progress - Aspirations for our Nation: A Conversation with Australians about Progress , 2011-12  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/05/2013   
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Image - MAP, EnvironmentENVIRONMENT

Australians aspire to healthy natural and built environments, which they connect to, benefit from, care for and sustain for future generations

Environment – fundamental to the quality of life and sense of well-being of Australians, as well as providing key inputs to the economy. Increasing population and economic pressures have caused many people to be increasingly concerned about the state of both the Australian and wider global environment.

Healthy natural environment

Australians aspire to a healthy natural environment.

  • Biodiversity
  • Land and vegetation
  • Rivers, lakes and ground water
  • Oceans and estuaries
  • Air and atmosphere
  • Forests
A thriving natural environment benefits all human life. A strong theme in this consultation was that Australians want their environment to become healthier rather than degraded over time. This includes improving the health of all the components of the environment.

Appreciating the environment

Australians aspire to appreciate the natural environment and people’s connection with it.
  • Understanding the environment’s intrinsic value
  • Understanding the environment’s economic value
  • Access to and availability of nature areas
  • Cultural connections
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ connection to country
  • Quality information
Participants in the consultation wanted the natural environment valued in many ways. People depend on the environment; it provides us with air, water, food, shelter and other things that we need to live. The environment was thought to contribute to the economy by providing resources and supporting industries. People saw it as particularly important that the value of the environment is taken into account when decisions are made that might affect it and that access to information is crucial in supporting this. Part of appreciating the environment is having access to the opportunities it provides for enjoyment, reflection and inspiration. The environment was seen to have different meaning for different people. For example, it is an iconic aspect of our national identity, as expressed in images of Australian beaches and landscapes. At an individual and community level, people recognised that connections to land and places hold meaning for many, such as the spiritual connection felt by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to country. For many people the environment was seen to have value in its own right, not only because it enriches human life.

Protecting the environment

Australians aspire to care for and protect our natural environment.
  • Protect
  • Prevent and minimise further damage
  • Restore
  • Effective programs
Many in the consultation were concerned with how people look after the environment. They aspired to protect, care for and avoid further damage to the environment, for example through protecting native flora, fauna, and wilderness areas. This was seen to involve careful management and restorative measures that improve the state of the environment and support its ability to function healthily. Throughout the consultation, there was strong support for the idea that caring for the environment can occur through individual or group initiatives and through business and government programs.

Sustaining the environment

Australians aspire to manage the environment sustainably for future generations.
  • Natural resources
  • Land use
  • Water use
  • Waste management
  • Adaptive technology
  • Adaption strategies
  • Climate change
Acting to sustain the natural environment and its resources for the long term was a strong recurring theme in the consultation and was considered important to business, government, communities and society. People felt that how we use the environment’s resources affects our well-being and the well-being of future generations. In relation to this, people talked about the importance of environmental resources that provide the basis for food and industrial production. They also discussed the development of adaptive technologies and strategies to enable environmental sustainability. Many thought it was important to be aware of the impact of human activities or lifestyles on the environment, particularly those that either moderate resource depletion or threaten long term sustainability.

Healthy built environments

Australians aspire to healthy built environments.
  • Quality built environment
  • People friendly
  • Cultural and heritage friendly
  • Access to natural areas
  • Ecologically friendly
  • Access to services and amenities
Close to two-thirds of Australians live in our capital cities, with many more living in other urban centres. On a daily basis, people use buildings, roads and pathways, transport systems, sewage systems, parks and other built environments strong theme of the consultation was the importance of the liveability of urban environments. For example, people were concerned that built environments are well planned, provide adequate housing and access to services, and are healthy and safe. People also felt that these environments should be somewhere that people enjoy living and being, and that they support positive social interaction and inclusion. Built environments have practical value, as well as heritage, social and aesthetic aspects which contribute to well-being. People aspired to be able to support the health of the natural environment both within their urban setting and beyond.

Working together

Australians aspire for government, business and communities to work together locally and globally for a healthy environment.
  • Participation
  • Alignment
  • Collaboration
  • Shared responsibility
  • International
Many people in the MAP consultation saw achieving a healthy environment as a collective effort. They felt that the natural environment affects everyone, and that all people, groups, businesses and nations have a responsibility to participate in protecting it. In caring for and sustaining the environment, they hoped for alignment between the different levels of government, for collaboration and linking across public and private activities and initiatives, and for international cooperation.