How can we make national environmental laws better?

How can we improve our national laws to make sure we are protecting the environment for the future? A panel of experts is working on their vision for ‘next generation’ laws, and is calling on others to contribute.

By EDO NSW Policy and Law Reform Director Rachel Walmsley

4 May 2017

Australia faces unprecedented environmental challenges. Biodiversity is declining. Invasive species are spreading. Native forests are disappearing. Growing populations in Australia and overseas are increasing our consumption of natural resources. We are experiencing intensifying climate change and more extreme weather.

Our existing laws might look good on paper, but they are failing to address these urgent challenges and prevent environmental decline. Our existing laws cannot guarantee that development will be ecologically sustainable. There have also been attempts to wind back longstanding environmental law protections in recent years.

We need to strengthen national environmental law.

The Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law (APEEL) is developing a vision for the next generation of Australian environmental laws that can ensure a healthy, functioning and resilient environment for generations to come.

The project is summarised in The Future of Australian Environmental Laws. This report provides an overview of detailed technical expert papers across eight key topics:

  1. The foundations of environmental law
  2. Environmental governance
  3. Terrestrial natural resources management
  4. Marine and coastal issues
  5. Climate law
  6. Energy regulation
  7. The private sector, business law and environmental performance
  8. Democracy and the environment 

The expert panel makes 57 recommendations for the next generation of Australia’s environmental laws and is asking for input. Your feedback is sought by Tuesday 2 June 2017. Details on how to comment are on the APEEL home page.

If you or someone you know has ideas on how we can improve our laws to stop environmental decline, now is your chance to get involved.

Rachel Walmsley is a member of the Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law.