This week, the 2021 State of the Environment  report was released. In 2016 we learnt the state of biodiversity in Australia is poor and getting worse. 5 years on, the latest report has revealed that nature has declined even further, and the situation is more dire then we expected. 

Australia is home to incredible nature, places and wildlife found nowhere else on Earth — but sadly we are a world leader when it comes to nature destruction.

Our land and marine environments are unique and globally important and we have an obligation to look after them, ensuring they are healthy and here to stay for generations to come.

Around the world, a million species are threatened with extinction, and Australia is at the centre of the nature destruction crisis.


Eastern quoll. Photo: Annette Ruzicka/MAPgroup 

19 Australian ecosystems, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Murray Darling River Basin, are collapsing. We are failing to meet our international obligations — only 100 of Australia’s 1900+ listed threatened species are prioritised for recovery, and since 2013, federal funding for nature has declined by a third.

Australian ecosystems showing evidence of collapse


Our national environment laws were recently reviewed by an independent body who found them to be outdated and ineffective. They’re not doing the job of protecting our vulnerable animals and places at risk. 

But we have a chance to turn this around.

What are the global goals for nature our planet needs?

Last October, the Environment Minister signed the Kunming declaration on behalf of Australia, committing to reverse nature destruction by 2030.

In June, countries met in Nairobi to work on a plan to protect and restore nature — a set of goals and targets that each country will be expected to meet by the end of this decade to ensure nature gets back on track. But a lack of leadership meant little progress was made.

At the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15), to be held later this year in Montreal, Canada, the Global Biodiversity Framework (the world's plan to protect and restore nature) will be finalised and adopted. Australia must do everything it can to ensure the agreement delivers the ambition nature needs.

Australians love nature — our big backyard — and with so much at stake, we should be a global leader when it comes to protecting it. 

So far though, Australia has been attempting to weaken rather than strengthen the global goals for nature.


Ningaloo Reef. Photo: Violeta Brosig/

Five ways Australia can lift its game at COP15

  1. A mission to reverse nature destruction
    Australia has a poor record for destroying nature in the 250 years since European colonisation. It should support a clear and ambitious global mission to reverse nature destruction so that by 2030 nature is in better health than it is now, and reform national environmental laws to provide a new framework necessary to deliver on that mission at home.

  2. End extinction
    Australia has one of the worst extinction rates in the world, we’ve caused the extinction of more mammals than any other country. Australia should champion a global goal of an immediate end to extinctions and commit the funds needed to protect and recover threatened native species.

  3. Protect and restore the land
    Australia’s the only developed country on the list of global deforestation hotspots and we're clearing the bush at such a rate that even koalas are now endangered in some states. Australia must back up its support for an ambitious global target to protect 30% of land and of sea with a commitment to protect at least 30% of our own land and fund the restoration of the places we’ve already damaged.

  4. Strengthen the link between action on climate and biodiversity
    The world’s scientists tell us we must solve the climate and nature crises together or we will solve neither. Climate change is already having a terrible impact on Australian ecosystems like the Great Barrier Reef and Murray Darling River Basin, which are especially vulnerable to climate change.

    As a major climate polluter, Australia must recognise the strong connections between climate and nature challenges and solutions. Australia should ensure this link is reflected in a clear and measurable target for nature-based action on climate change in the Global Biodiversity Framework.

  5. Embed nature in all decision making
    Australia needs to address nature destruction across different levels of government, local, state and federal, and across all government portfolios to transition to an economy based on improving rather than harming nature.

    And Australian business must transform to nature friendly practices too. In the Global Biodiversity Framework Australia should be backing strong targets that would require businesses to identify and act on their own nature-related risks and end their harmful impacts. 

COP15 will be the biggest global opportunity for nature in a decade. It’s our best chance to deliver a clear set of goals and targets for governments and businesses to realign with and be held accountable to.

Australia must get real about the problems nature is facing and come to the table with a solid plan to get nature back on track, protecting what is so special about our home. 

Let's speak up now

Australia must work with other countries to deliver the global agreement nature needs.

Add your voice to the petition to the federal government, asking them to support ambitious global goals to stop and reverse nature destruction and set the world on a path to recovery, so that by 2030 nature is in better health than it is now.

Want more? Invite your friends to raise their voice for nature too.


Header image: Cape York Rainforest. Photo: Kerry Trapnell

Nat Pelle

Business and Biodiversity Campaign Lead