- Saturday 08 June 2013
How is the Sunshine Coast travelling in terms of sustainability?
That’s the question Sunshine Coast Council wanted answered. So it went to the University of the Sunshine Coast’s (USC) Sustainability Research Centre to find out.
The result is the first Community Plan Sustainability Indicators Report, which will be launched at the Sunshine Coast World Environment Day Festival this weekend.
The report provides a review of how the region is tracking in a range of areas including health, transport, employment, biodiversity and climate change.
Dr Dana Thomsen, USC Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of Sustainability Programs, said the report scrutinised 20 indicators across the Sunshine Coast region.
“Examining environmental, social, economic and governance indicators provides a comprehensive benchmark of regional sustainability,” she said.
“Many positive indicators, such as safety, wellbeing and health highlight the quality of the Sunshine Coast lifestyle. However, addressing indicators requiring action, such as biodiversity, is essential for maintaining these benefits.
“This is an excellent opportunity for the Sunshine Coast community to reflect on future goals and aspirations in light of our current situation.”
Co-author and Director of the University’s Sustainability Research Centre, Professor Tim Smith, said a report of this kind had not been developed previously for the Coast.
“This report builds on an earlier assessment of Australian cities by the Australian Conservation Foundation as part of the Sustainable Cities Index,” he said.
“This is the first comprehensive assessment of sustainability for the Sunshine Coast region.”
Division 12 Councillor Tony Wellington, who holds council’s Environment Portfolio, said the report set a useful yardstick for measuring sustainability into the future.
“The research for the report was carried out in late 2012 as part of council’s response to its Community Plan,” he said.
“Changes at State Government level have meant that council is no longer required to produce a Community Plan. However I am hoping that council will continue to work with the Sustainability Research Centre to regularly update the data contained in this report.
“If we are serious about becoming increasingly sustainable, then we need to not only set targets but also identify the problem areas which require attention.
“This report holds some illuminating surprises. While we might be tracking well in areas such as renewable energy, safety and economic diversity, it is sobering to discover that the Coast’s biodiversity is under threat, that we demonstrate low rates of volunteerism, and that so few people feel they are able to contribute to local decision making.
“Clearly there are messages in this report that council, business and the community should not ignore.”
Council and USC will launch the report at the World Environment Day Festival, Sunday 9 June (10.45am) at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Speakers include Dr Dana Thomsen and Cr Tony Wellington.