GO­ING GREEN FOR GOOD

THE BELOVED WORLD EN­VI­RON­MENT DAY FES­TI­VAL IS BACK AGAIN WITH EVENT-FIRST AT­TRAC­TIONS AND A SWEET TAKE ON HOW TO PRO­TECT MOTHER NA­TURE

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | COVER STORY - WORDS: AN­NIE CAUGHEY

They dubbed this year’s elec­tion “the cli­mate elec­tion”. In the lead-up to Aus­tralia’s date with the polling booths, we heard protests and pleas from var­i­ous com­mu­nity mem­bers ask­ing the peo­ple of Aus­tralia to “vote for the planet”. Now, just weeks later, one Sun­shine Coast or­gan­i­sa­tion is re­fus­ing to let that con­ver­sa­tion die. The an­nual World En­vi­ron­ment Day Fes­ti­val is back to­mor­row but it’s not the “cam­paign” you may ex­pect. It’s back for a day of free fam­ily fun, ed­u­ca­tion, con­ser­va­tion, mu­sic, food, art, yoga (phew, let me take a breath...) and lo­cal beer – best served cold, cour­tesy of Your Mates Brewery. The Porch Project will be set­ting up its own stage, nes­tled away beneath the gums, and TAFE stu­dents will show­case orig­i­nal de­signs on the sus­tain­able cat­walk. Match that with stacks of food trucks, mar­ket stalls and the en­er­getic line-up of in­spi­ra­tional speak­ers and mu­sic acts ready­ing to take the main stage and you’ve got your­self a killer day out. While the day is set to en­ter­tain the masses, its cen­tral fo­cus is to ed­u­cate and in­spire the lo­cal com­mu­nity about en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues spe­cific to the re­gion. It’s safe to say that most locals care about the sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­ment, liv­ing in a place sur­rounded by such magnificen­t nat­u­ral beauty. How­ever, what many peo­ple may not be aware of is ex­actly how they can help, or what pi­o­neer­ing work is hap­pen­ing to sus­tain the beauty of this re­gion – right un­der their noses. Dr Ian Lowe, an award-win­ning en­vi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tist, will be there on the day to give you an “ed-u-cation”. He will be aim­ing to bring a glim­mer of hope to those who feel anxious about the fu­ture of the planet and in­form­ing oth­ers who, quite hon­estly, just don’t re­ally know what’s go­ing on. As an ex­pert in his field, Dr Lowe chaired the ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee in 1996 that pro­duced the first na­tional re­port on the state of the en­vi­ron­ment. He has sat on the board of a num­ber of na­tional com­mis­sions and was the pres­i­dent of the Aus­tralian Con­ser­va­tion Foundation from 2004 to 2014. Not to men­tion his infinite list of awards ac­knowl­edg­ing him for his con­tri­bu­tions to sci­ence and his role in cre­at­ing pub­lic

aware­ness of an ar­ray of en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues. Fol­low­ing the re­cent re­sults of the fed­eral elec­tion, Dr Lowe said po­lit­i­cal ac­tion had lagged for far too long but events such as the fes­ti­val pro­vided a plat­form for the pub­lic to learn more about en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion. “We have prob­lems and they are all get­ting worse. The rea­son they are be­com­ing worse is be­cause most gov­ern­ments, state and com­mon­wealth, re­gard en­vi­ron­men­tal protection as an op­tional ex­tra, only if it doesn’t slow down eco­nomic growth,” Dr Lowe said. “We have de­part­ments of en­vi­ron­ment but they don’t seem to see their job as pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment. They seem to see their job as ex­plain­ing why the depre­da­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment is an ac­cept­able price for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment that other de­part­ments like trea­sury, min­ing or agri­cul­ture want. “I re­ally worry about the legacy we are leav­ing for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. My most re­cent book was pub­lished shortly af­ter I be­came a grand­fa­ther and I ded­i­cated it to my grand­daugh­ter and all her gen­er­a­tion be­cause with av­er­age life ex­pectancy, she’ll be liv­ing in Aus­tralia un­til the end of this cen­tury. “I can’t imag­ine what sort of coun­try she’ll be liv­ing in if we don’t take more se­ri­ously our re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to pro­tect the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.” How­ever, de­spite his strong stance, Dr Lowe’s over­ar­ch­ing mes­sage is one of peo­ple power and “cau­tious op­ti­mism”. “There’s a whole range of things that have been pro­posed for the Sun­shine Coast that would have de­stroyed sig­nif­i­cant nat­u­ral as­sets here, and they didn’t hap­pen be­cause peo­ple got off their back­side and op­posed them,” he said. “We should never doubt the ca­pac­ity of a small num­ber of peo­ple who are de­ter­mined to make a dif­fer­ence.” Dr Lowe be­lieves that in a so­ci­ety where so much em­pha­sis is placed on eco­nomic growth, a vast ma­jor­ity of the pub­lic can lose con­nec­tion to how in­nately im­por­tant the nat­u­ral world is. “The nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment gives us the things we ab­so­lutely need: breath­able air, drink­able wa­ter and the ca­pac­ity to pro­duce our food. If we don’t pro­tect those nat­u­ral sys­tems, we don’t have much of a fu­ture,” he said. “The econ­omy does give us things we need, but most of the things the econ­omy gives us, we have to be per­suaded to want, which is why we have an ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try. I look for­ward to the day when you don’t need a World En­vi­ron­ment Day be­cause it would be un­think­able to make de­ci­sions about eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment with­out pri­ori­tis­ing their en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact.” At the cel­e­bra­tion to­mor­row, he will be en­cour­ag­ing at­ten­dees to open their minds to the pos­i­tive progress that is hap­pen­ing on the Coast, such as the newly in­tro­duced Queensland Re­cy­cling Scheme and many of the en­vi­ron­men­tal groups which will be show­cas­ing at the event. “We should all re­gard it as our re­spon­si­bil­ity to think about what the Coast will be like in 50 years’ time and what sort of legacy we want to leave for our grand­chil­dren,” Dr Lowe said. Some­times it’s a simple change such as rid­ing your bike to work one day a week or choos­ing to eat lower on the food chain. But Dr Lowe be­lieves those con­sis­tent changes re­ally make the dif­fer­ence. Ty­ing in with the United Na­tions theme of “fight­ing air pol­lu­tion”, the fes­ti­val will be in­tro­duc­ing a new at­trac­tion. The Fes­ti­val Trail is set to be a scavenger hunt for all ages, which takes par­tic­i­pants through an in­ter­ac­tive trail as they gather ev­ery­thing they need to take home and grow a seedling of their own. Barung Land­care pres­i­dent Ian Mcmaster said the trail would in­tro­duce mem­bers of the pub­lic to the im­por­tant work that his group and many oth­ers like it do in the re­gion. Barung Land­care works closely with farm­ers and lo­cal residents and helps them to sus­tain­ably man­age their prop­er­ties while also reveg­e­tat­ing na­tive trees and plants to help lo­cal wildlife thrive. “Trees are the lungs of the Earth, so the more we can plant and keep, the cleaner our land will be,” Mr Mcmaster said. The World En­vi­ron­ment Day Fes­ti­val is or­gan­ised by the Sun­shine Coast En­vi­ron­ment Coun­cil, along­side many ded­i­cated volunteers with the sup­port of lo­cal busi­nesses and the Sun­shine Coast Coun­cil.

The World En­vi­ron­ment Day Fes­ti­val will take place to­mor­row at Ro­tary Park Cot­ton Tree, from 10am–5pm. To find out more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.wed.org.au/ or fol­low the In­sta­gram page @wed­fes­ti­val.

“IT’S OUR RE­SPON­SI­BIL­ITY TO THINK ABOUT WHAT THE COAST WILL BE LIKE IN 50 YEARS’ TIME AND WHAT SORT OF LEGACY WE WANT TO LEAVE FOR OUR GRAND­CHIL­DREN.”

PHO­TOS: JAZZY CON­NORS

WIDE AP­PEAL: The World En­vi­ron­ment Day Fes­ti­val takes place to­mor­row with event-first at­trac­tions and loads of old favourites on the pro­gram.

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