Traditional Owners have lived in harmony with the Australian environment for thousands of years. This harmony is at the core of traditional knowledge and customs, sustaining a sense of place and wellbeing.
In 2021, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people have worked together to create the first holistic assessment of the current state of Australia’s environment. This recognises that Indigenous participation in management of land and sea is important to environmental outcomes. This is in line with the objects of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) – promoting a cooperative approach to environmental management.
In 2021, we have added new chapters to the report:
Indigenous – We have brought together the voices of our Indigenous co-authors, leaders and communities we have engaged during SoE’s development. The Indigenous chapter tells the story of the deep connection between the environment and people, the challenges of Indigenous stewardship in caring for Country, and the benefits of learning from Australia’s Indigenous peoples.
Extreme events – The intensity and frequency of extreme weather and related events are changing. Understanding natural events such as cyclones, floods and bushfires, how they impact where we live and work, and their effect on ecosystems helps us to better manage these events in the future.
Climate – Our climate is changing. Australia’s climate continues to warm, largely driven by greenhouse gas emissions, bringing with it associated changes in climate systems. Climate change is a pressure across all aspects of the environment and amplifies the impacts of other pressures.
This report explores the links between human wellbeing and the environment. We are increasingly aligning the report and its analysis with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This approach includes outcome-based assessments which provide a common framework that can be used by industry and states and territories. We have also drawn on environmental accounts where available, which apply an economic lens to the costs and benefits for society of environment impacts and actions.
We have collaborated with the National Gallery of Australia to showcase artists from across the nation. Their art, featured as the main image for each chapter, brings aspects of our environment to life and shows how the environment affects not only how we see our Country, but how we see ourselves within it.