For too long in environmental and social policy, governments have focused on inputs and the amount of money thrown at a program instead of achieving real results.
That focus has shifted in recent years. Governments are increasingly partnering with community organisations and private providers on policy issues to achieve an outcome. This is particularly true in the social services space, with the increasing use of Social Benefit Bonds, or Social Impact Bonds, across the world.
This approach is also transferrable to environmental policy, where environmental bonds are increasingly being looked at as an innovative outcomes-based approach.
Queensland has a diverse and rich array of natural environments needing protection and nurturing to weather the climate impacts to come. The LNP is committed to looking at innovative approaches to conservation policy to achieve real and practical results for our natural environment.
The LNP is committed to practical environmental action to improve and protect the environment. We have a demonstrated record of supporting grassroots organisations and taking practical action to improve the environment. In government, the LNP:
- Developed the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan guiding the protection and long-term management of the reef
- Invested $35 million each year to improve water quality, including support for graziers and cane growers to develop best farm management programs and adopt reef-friendly practices
- Invested more than any previous government in protecting koalas through our record breaking $26.5 million habitat, research and rescue program
- Started the Resilient Rivers Initiative to improve water quality and soil erosion in the south east and invested $2 million annually in the Healthy Waterways program, and
- Established the popular Everyone’s Environment grants program which provided $12 million to community organisations to clean-up, restore and protect their local environment.
OUR REAL PLAN
As part of our Greener Queensland plan we are committing to a trial of three Environmental Benefit Bonds (EBBs).
EBBs are based on the same premise as Social Benefit Bonds. They involve the government identifying an environmental issue that could benefit from long-term, outcomes-based funding. The government will then negotiate with a private investor who is interested in tackling this problem before entering into a payment by results contract. The LNP will invest $4 million for the Environmental Benefit Bonds trial.
The investor will provide the upfront capital and partner with a service provider or community organisation to work towards a solution for the problem, but a return on that investment is only paid if agreed outcomes and benchmarks are met. Payment is dependent on achieving results. If the identified outcome is met it results in savings to the government in the form of future avoided costs and these savings are used to repay the upfront investment and a financial return for investors.
The LNP believes this approach, which has been successfully implemented in the social services space, can produce outcomes in environmental policy.
The LNP will launch three EBB pilots. The types of initiatives the LNP will be targeting include (but are not limited to):
- Improving soil erosion and water quality in river catchments
- Reducing outbreaks of the Crown-of-thorns starfish in the Great Barrier Reef, and
- Increasing suitable koala habitat and actions to boost koala numbers.