May 31st, 2019

Sustainability is no longer an option. It is a necessity.

Such is the seriousness of climate change on our planet, in his speech last month, Sir David Attenborough said that we are in midst of the Earth’s sixth extinction event which will see the end of our species. Indeed, just weeks ago, in a world first, the UK Parliament declared an Environment and Climate Emergency.

With four out of the last five years the hottest on record in Australia, we all see first hand the result of global warming and climate change in our communities. CSIRO has confirmed that we face more extreme bushfire risk days each year, sustained drought in southern Australia, acidification of the oceans, increased extreme weather events and rising sea levels.

As well of the hundreds of billions of dollars cost of climate-related costs in severe drought, heat, fires, floods and storms around the world, there is a growing animal and human toll.

In our region, five uninhabited islands in the Solomons have already disappeared with another six habited islands having villagers relocated after their villages were washed away. Acknowledging that their relocation is now inevitable due to rising sea levels, the Kiribati government has started ‘migration with dignity’, raising thequalifications standard so I-Kiribati can gain jobs in the region as well as purchasing land in Fiji.

As one of the three thematic focus areas of the Australian Volunteers Program, volunteers have been working to build the capacity needed for organisations and sectors in our region to adapt to climate change and enable disaster risk reduction for many years.

But AVI needs to do more to play its part. In designing AVI’s new home in Melbournethat we will move into in October, we have incorporated sustainability throughout, from the desks being fully recyclable to solar energy and water tanks.

In 2019/20, AVI will also start measuring and setting targets to reduce its carbon footprint, and reporting sustainability in our Annual Report.

Sustainability is no longer an option. It is a necessity.

Paul Bird