By Matt Sykes
A very happy New Year to you all. Regardless of the waves that might lay ahead of us in 2021, here's to embracing the highs and the lows.
At 3pm today I will finish my working week by spending one hour in rain, hail or shine, picking up rubbish along a beach near my home office in Mornington, at the edge of Nerm / Port Phillip Bay. This is a weekly commitment for 2021, and beyond, that I’ve made on behalf of Regeneration Projects as part of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
I walk, swim and meditate this coastline during lunch breaks and after work through all seasons. It is an anchor in my personal and professional life. My one hour each week, 52 hours across a year, the equivalent of a standard working week for a startup CEO, is a simple gesture of reciprocity towards Parbin-ata / Mother Earth.
Every day our businesses depend on ecosystems, and their services. But do we really value these services, this Natural Capital?
With time I see Regeneration Projects being able to partner with other businesses around the Bay to increase our benefit to the water quality and rich biodiversity of this incredible blue infrastructure system. So too, opportunities to support local organisations like BERG Mt Martha, Mornington Peninsula Landcare Network and the Port Phillip EcoCentre.
We’re already strengthening the relationship between Melbourne's business community and our iconic waterways through collaborations like the Great Victorian Bathing Trail and projects with champions like Boon Wurrung Elder N’arweet Carolyn Briggs and Australian of the Year Josie Jones. In fact, we’re co-hosting an event next week through the Trans-Tasman Regen Roundtable in partnership with the Yarra Riverkeeper Association. (details below)
For a moment I’d like to shine a spotlight on urban ecosystems. According to the United Nations, ‘Urban areas occupy less than 1 per cent of the Earth’s land surface but house more than half of its people … Poor planning seals soils and leaves little space for vegetation amid the houses, roads and factories. Waste and emissions from industry, traffic and homes pollutes waterways, soils and the air. Unchecked urban sprawl gobbles up more and more natural habitat and fertile farmland.’
It goes on …
‘Restoring urban ecosystems requires awareness and commitment from both citizens and decision makers.’
We are all decision-makers. We all make a difference each day. You don’t have to be a superhero like Aunty Carolyn, or Josie, or even Karin Traeger (aka the Plastic Runner). We all have an ecosystem at our office doorstep whether it is covered up or not. When was the last time you stopped to listen?
Now for a little accountability, each Friday afternoon I commit to posting a photo on RP’s social media (Insta @regen.projects & FB) of my week’s inorganic bounty. (gathered used COVID-safe methods) This will be paired with the Decade on Restoration’s official hashtag #GenerationRestoration
The Decade officially kicks off in June but I have a feeling our Earth is asking us to just crack on with it. Don't you?!
For those looking for a bold first step, or plunge, into the Decade on Restoration … I personally welcome you to the roundtable next Thursday, Jan 21, especially leaders of Aotearoa and Australia.
You can register at: