PORT Macquarie-Hastings Council has recently taken some significant decisions to support sustainability initiatives and manage the risk of climate change within our region.
Perhaps the most important of these was a resolution at the December 2019 council meeting (item 13.05, resolution 2) to develop a sustainability strategy that includes specific climate change adaptation and mitigation considerations, supported by the inclusion of a sustainability officer in the operational plan for 20/21.
These are logical steps for the council which describes its vision as "a sustainable high quality of life for all" and lists sustainability as a key corporate value, but which previously had no strategy or means to bring this vision to reality.
Incorporating climate change, environmental and sustainability considerations into decision making is a critical step to unlock new job opportunities in clean energy and regenerative agriculture, attract eco-tourism dollars, to maintain a high quality of life for residents, and protect against the risks of natural disaster in a global environment that has become increasingly unpredictable.
However, the ultimate success of these measures depends on environmental and sustainability policies being considered in an integrated way with council's economic development and strategic planning.
To achieve this, council will need to ensure the sustainability officer position has sufficient seniority and resourcing to be taken seriously across the organisation and commit to a basic requirement for these considerations to be a cornerstone of council decision making and activity.