Dbytes #481 (23 June 2021)

Info, news & views for anyone interested in biodiversity conservation and good environmental decision making

“Changing the Great Barrier Reef’s World Heritage status to ‘in danger’ equates to emergency authorities cranking up the fire danger rating to catastrophic,”
Lesley Hughes [see item 2]


In this issue of Dbytes

1. Sustainable oceans and coasts national strategy 2021-2030
2. Great Barrier Reef in danger zone
3. A pathway for reforming national environmental law
4. Crunch time for reform of national environmental law
5. Brokerage at the science–policy interface: from conceptual framework to practical guidance
6. Are experts complicit in making their advice easy for politicians to ignore?
7. Preserving Australia’s biodiversity is crucial and needs creative programs

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1. Sustainable oceans and coasts national strategy 2021-2030

A ten-year strategy launched today by Future Earth Australia, a program of the Australian Academy of Science, presents a national implementation plan to ensure healthy coasts and oceans for a just and environmentally sustainable future.

Cooperation, grassroots action and First Peoples’ knowledge will unlock Australia’s blue economy | Australian Academy of Science

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2. Great Barrier Reef in danger zone

THE UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s intention to change the Great Barrier Reef’s status to ‘in danger’ brings shame on the federal government, which is standing by as the Reef declines rather than fighting to protect it. The situation is dire, and our response should match that. The Reef has been severely damaged by three marine heatwaves in the past five years alone.

Great Barrier Reef in Danger Zone | Climate Council

and see
Australian government was ‘blindsided’ by UN recommendation to list Great Barrier Reef as in-danger. But it’s no great surprise

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3. A pathway for reforming national environmental law

The Australian Government has released A pathway for reforming national environmental law accompanied by a proposed timeline that outlines the Government’s intended timing for reform and further engagement with stakeholders.
Immediate reform priorities
$10.6 million to support the delivery of single touch approvals with states and territories.
$9 million to establish and operate an Environment Assurance Commissioner to independently audit and monitor the operation of single touch approvals with states and territories, as well as Commonwealth assessments and approvals under the EPBC Act.
$2.7 million to develop a pilot regional plan for a priority development region in partnership with a willing state or territory. Regional planning will help to identify and protect important environmental assets, leading to better environmental outcomes. It will also give business greater certainty and clarity of their environmental approval requirements, by helping to identify the most appropriate areas for development.
$0.5 million to support the government’s commitment to continue stakeholder engagement on modernising and strengthening the protection of Indigenous cultural heritage.

Environmental law reform | Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

[and see item 4]

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4. Crunch time for reform of national environmental law

This week is crunch time for reform of Australia’s national environmental law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The government has put forward a pathway forward. The problem with this pathway is that it contains very little of substance beyond what has already been put on the table.

https://sustainabilitybites.home.blog/

For an excellent backgrounder on the EPBC review process see the Bill Digest prepared by the Parliamentary Library on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Standards and Assurance) Bill 2021

ParlInfo – Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Standards and Assurance) Bill 2021 (aph.gov.au)

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5. Brokerage at the science–policy interface: from conceptual framework to practical guidance

This article analyses the conceptual framework of brokerage at the science–policy interface as an important boundary function to support trusted and transparent government decision-making. Policymaking involves a broad range of considerations, but science advice and evidence is critical to help inform decisions. However, mechanisms for requesting and receiving advice from the scientific community are not straightforward, considering that the knowledge needed generally spans multiple disciplines of the natural and social sciences. Once evidence has been appropriately synthesized, there remains the need to ensure an effective and unbiased translation to the policy and political community. The concept of knowledge brokerage revolves around an understanding of the ontologies, cultures and languages of both the policy community and the science community, in order to effectively link the two bidirectionally. In practical terms, this means ensuring that the information needs of the former are understood, and that the type and form of information offered by the latter aligns with those needs. Ideally, knowledge brokers act at the interface between researchers/experts and decision-makers to present evidence in a way that informs policy options but does not determine policy development. Conceptually, negotiating this interface involves acknowledging that values are embedded in the scientific process and evidentiary synthesis, and in particular, in considering the inferential risks inherent in making evidence claims. Brokers are faced with navigating complex policy dynamics and balancing information asymmetries between research providers and users. Building on the conceptual analysis and examination of the nuances of brokerage observed in practice, we propose a set of guidelines to translate the concepts of brokerage to practical application.

Brokerage at the science–policy interface: from conceptual framework to practical guidance | Humanities and Social Sciences Communications (nature.com)

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6. Are experts complicit in making their advice easy for politicians to ignore?

The role of experts in policymaking and debates over the extent to which politicians are being ‘led by the science’ have become prominent in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, Christiane Gerblinger argues that, rather than being a simple case of politicians disregarding sound advice, experts should attend to the way in which this advice is communicated and the elements inherent to particular forms of advice that make it easy for politicians to ignore or divert to different ends. 

Are experts complicit in making their advice easy for politicians to ignore? | Impact of Social Sciences (lse.ac.uk)

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7. Preserving Australia’s biodiversity is crucial and needs creative programs

Vital programs such as the National Action Plan for Australia’s Most Imperilled Plants will enable an understanding and advocacy for the survival of these species. As engineers and scientists, we need to be committed to developing and delivering quality environmental and social outcomes that balance the short-term needs of projects with the long-term needs of the environment.

Preserving Australia’s biodiversity is crucial and needs creative programs | The Fifth Estate

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About Dbytes

Dbytes is a weekly eNewsletter presenting news and views on biodiversity conservation and environmental decision science. ‘D’ stands for ‘Decision’ and refers to all the ingredients that go into good, fair and just decision-making in relation to the environment.From 2007-2018 Dbytes was supported by a variety of research networks and primarily the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED). From 2019 Dbytes is being produced by David Salt (Ywords).

If you have any contributions to Dbytes (ie, opportunities and resources that you think might think be of value to other Dbyte readers) please send them to David.Salt@anu.edu.au. Please keep them short and provide a link for more info.

Anyone is welcome to receive Dbytes. If you would like to receive it, send me an email and I’ll add you to the list.

David


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