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