Many people say and believe that Australia is a land of opportunity and the Social Progress Index reinforces this by ranking us #3 using a mesh of indices to determine our place in the world when it comes to personal rights, freedom of choice, tolerance and inclusion and access to advance education.
But when it comes to measuring the foundation of our wellbeing that looks at access to basic knowledge, information communications, health and wellness and ecosystem sustainability, we come in at #18. On the whole, Australia doesn’t do too badly as we are ranked the 10th most socially progressive country globally.
However, being a socially progressive country comes at a price to the environment where Australia is ranked #52 for the sustainability of our ecosystem which measures greenhouse gas emissions, water withdrawals as a percentage of resources and biodiversity. Living in one of the driest continents in the world, water feeds Australia’s agricultural industry and according to the ABS, it accounts for 38 percent of use.
While there are underground sources of water, we are still reliant on rain and the impact of climate change could mean rainfall would be less predictable or available. As we watch quietly the debates over who owns the rights of and the trading of water, I would love the opportunity for us to throw this debate out to the community to discuss who rightfully owns water in Australia (not just the Murray-Darling basin alone but also groundwater), how it can be rightfully protected from pollution, assigned to support agricultural needs and financially supporting buybacks for an entitlement that belongs to our communities.