The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) has welcomed the Federal Government’s response to Professor Graeme Samuel’s review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (the EPBC Act) as a positive step towards legislative reform in this vital area.
In its response, the Government recognises the financial risks inherent in poor environmental protection legislation, stating that ‘the condition and rate at which we are eroding the environment poses significant risks to Australia’s economic, financial and social stability’. Elsewhere, it points out that ‘every sector of the Australian economy is directly dependent on nature to varying degrees. Almost half of Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) has a moderate to very high direct dependence on nature.’
“Loss of biodiversity not only erodes economic, social and cultural value, but presents a material financial risk for investors, with estimates that biodiversity loss has the potential to wipe $27 billion a year from Australia’s economy annually by 2050,” ACSI CEO Louise Davidson said.
“Companies’ dependence and impacts on nature create material risks and opportunities for investors. As long-term stewards of capital, investors have a strong interest in managing the risks associated with biodiversity loss. The Government’s response to the Samuel review is a welcome step toward policy reform to help limit biodiversity loss,”
ACSI welcomes the establishment of an independent Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), to help restore public accountability and trust, along with standards for First Nations engagement and participation in decision-making to support protection of First Nations interests and cultural heritage. . We are also encouraged by the Government’s commitment to improving the quality and accessibility of data on the environment, as this will be core to improving outcomes.
“With COP15 currently taking place in Montreal, all governments should step up their collective response to the nature crisis and we encourage the Australian Government to take a leadership role and drive progress at COP15. COP15 presents a significant opportunity to establish an ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework to better protect nature and biodiversity. “
Investors await further detail on the proposed reforms and consultation on draft legislation in the new year.
“The long-term sustainability of our natural environment, and the investments which rely on it, depend on committed and determined steps now.” Ms Davidson said.