Defending the Environment is a human rights win for everyone

The conservation of Beeliar Wetlands is one step closer now after a Bill has been introduced into Parliament to rezone 34 hectares of wetland from Primary Regional Roads to Parks and Recreation. Following this crucial rezoning, the area can no longer be used to build a road.

Local conservationist and convenor of “Save Beeliar Wetlands” Kate Kelly, was leading the fight against the government to stop the catastrophic environmental disaster, Roe 8/Perth Freight Link. Kate, along with many others took the fight up to the High Court of Australia to urge the government to Rethink the Link, which would have effectively destroyed much of the Beeliar Wetlands. In the construction proposal, up to 100 hectares (roughly one quarter) of the wetlands would have been irreparably damaged with a freeway running right through it.

Pictured: Kate Kelly

Following the election in 2017, the WA Labor government caved to the enormity of the Beeliar Wetlands campaign and abandoned the $450 million project and there has been much uncertainty following these ceased works. Rehabilitation works will now commence to restore the bulldozed site back to its original ecological state; however planning for an alternative future freight route still remains uncertain.   

The Environment Minister, Hon Stephen Dawson MLC said the decision to overturn the project was a great outcome.

“This is an excellent environmental outcome as it means government approval to build a large road over highly sensitive wetlands has now been revoked,” Hon Stephen Dawson said.

“I look forward to the passing of this Bill to return the land to Parks and Recreation and secure it as a precious environmental asset which future generations can enjoy.”

WA Planning Minister Rita Saffioti said the Perth Freight Link project was not only controversial, but deeply flawed.

“The people of this area and wider Perth made it very clear – they don’t want a road through these wetlands, and this Bill solidifies our commitment to restoring this land for the community,” she said.

We at Amnesty believe the introduction of this Bill is a human rights win for us all, as we can work together to restore these beautiful wetlands for generations to come.

At a global level, we live in a world populated with roughly 7.5 billion people and counting and we at Amnesty appreciate the connection between human rights and climate change.

We fundamentally advocate for all human rights and the rights that are impacted by climate change include: the right to life, the right to adequate food and water, the right to health, human security and the rights of Indigenous people. Now more than ever, climate change has become one of the biggest human rights issue to affect our world.

Amnesty have widely advocated on climate change to the UN and a global human-rights-based approach seems to be the solid answer moving forward, especially as our population continues to grow and our footprint on Earth gets increasingly larger.

We need to acknowledge climate change not as charity or aid – but as human rights and justice for every person on the planet.

Examining climate change as a human rights issue places control and ownership in the hands of the people and the community.  That autonomy should encourage people to take action at a local level, with local knowledge that suits their living situation.

Amnesty needs like-minded activists to speak up about the harmful things that are being done to the environment.

2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This declaration represents freedom and justice for many throughout the world. However, still today there are many brave activists being punished, imprisoned and even killed for speaking out against injustice, and standing up for their rights. Luckily in Australia, we can be that voice without too much fear of persecution.

Pictured: Climate Change Rally Perth 2019

Learn more about Amnesty International’s approach to climate change here. We need passionate advocates to stand up for our planet and all the implications that go with it. Our action doesn’t have to be big and momentous; it just has to matter. One conversation, one letter, one email could do just that. Defending our planet comes first and then we can defend our people. 

Words by Jacqui O’Leary

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