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February 1, 2024

Enhancing Environmental Decision Making with Trusted Data

A trusted environment data and information supply chain to improve research and decision making on Australia’s environment is the focus of a new strategic partnership between the Australian Government Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW), The Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute (WABSI), the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI), and the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC).

The partners have signed a statement of intent to provide leadership in achieving better public good outcomes for Australia’s environment. Their focus will be on providing guidance to support a national environmental data and information standard. This will enable environmental data to be connected and harmonised, facilitating improved assessments of current and future states, conditions, and trends of matters protected under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act.

Hamish Holewa, Director of Planet Research Data Commons at ARDC, stated, “This is an exciting partnership. In collaboration with research, government and industry we are working to develop trusted data and information supply chains that will enable research translation and make it easier to discover, integrate and develop information products for use in research and decision making. The ARDC Planet Research Data Commons aims to connect data and analysis across sectors and disciplines. This will ensure decisions about our environment are made with the best and most complete data available.”

At the Australian Environment Ministers Meeting, held in Adelaide in November, it was agreed that one of the key elements for achieving national targets was ensuring that environmental data and information was widely accessible and supported planning.

WABSI and WAMSI have worked in partnership with the WA Government, the WA EPA and the science community to enhance the access, aggregation, interpretation and management of biodiversity information collected in Western Australia.

“This partnership is the next phase in our journey,” said Professor Owen Nevin, Chief Executive Officer, WABSI. “It will help Australia develop national targets, in line with the Global Biodiversity Framework, to better protect nature. Shared data and analytics will empower regional environmental planning to de-risk projects for business whilst addressing cumulative impacts and delivering positive environmental outcomes in regions with priority development.”

As part of this initiative, a Shared Environmental Analytics Facility is proposed for the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The project will be carried out in collaboration with industry, research institutions, and government.

“In addition to improving efficiencies in research and evidence-based decision-making, the trusted supply chain will lift public trust in Environmental Impact Assessment decisions through transparency and visibility of data and methods underpinning decisions,” added Dr Luke Twomey, Chief Executive Officer, WAMSI.

The 2020 Independent Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act underscored the need for an effective ‘supply chain’ of environmental information.

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