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SPEECH: United Nations Association of Australia Gala Dinner

It’s a wonderful privilege to join everyone at your annual dinner tonight.

This gala event celebrates the ongoing work of the United Nations, recognises the contribution of notable Australians and salutes the achievements of the 2021 and 2022 UN Honorees.

We are also marking two special United Nations projects.

First, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

This is a really important initiative that I care deeply about.

It is imperative that we proactively continue to conserve and restore our earth, freshwater and marine ecosystems.

It’s a big ask and a big job.

But by rallying people together to safeguard Australia’s unique environment, we can better adapt to climate change and ensure vibrant, thriving communities now and into the future.

Here in New South Wales, my government is working hard on ensuring we do our part to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

This financial year alone we are investing over $2 billion in environmental enhancement programs – and billions more in our climate change programs.

Since 2011, the NSW Government has secured over 650,000 hectares for addition to the national park estate, over 2000 private land conservation agreements have been facilitated and we became the first Australian jurisdiction to legislate Areas of Outstanding Biodiversity Value – which cement the highest level of protection for our most biodiversity-rich sites.

We also have one of the most rigorous threatened species management programs in Australia, our flagship Saving Our Species Program.

The NSW Net Zero Plan sets out a clear roadmap for decarbonisation and supports the state’s target of 50% emissions reduction by 2030, on our road to net zero – backed by the NSW Climate Change Fund.

And these efforts are already paying dividends…

We are on already track to hit our emissions reduction goals, the percentage of renewable energy in the NSW electricity supply is increasing and between 2015 and 2020, the amount of wind and solar energy more than doubled in our state.

We are also investing in new technologies such as electric vehicle charging infrastructure, supporting the agriculture sector and heavy industrial sector to decarbonise and modernising our energy system.

But protecting our biodiversity also requires us to take action on the wicked problem of plastic…

Starting this year, our $356 million Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy programs are set to reduce our use of plastic, tackle litter entering our marine environment and reduce the use of virgin materials, which are often fossil-based.

As part of this plan, we have recently launched a $9 Circular Plastics Program to increase recycled content in products or design out plastic altogether.

Single-use plastics like bags, straws, cutlery will also be banned in New South Wales from November.

By banning these items, we will remove more than 2.7 billion items of plastic from entering our environment.

Importantly, it has been my job as Minister for Multiculturalism to ensure that our small business owners in diverse communities are also ready when this change comes into effect.

That’s why we’ve been assisting business owners with in-language services about the ban.

We’ve done this in 15 languages, so everyone knows what to do through this important change.

Importantly, this is the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development.

This encourages exchanges between scientists and stakeholders and aims to strengthen the presence of women in science, meet global challenges, and foster innovation and economic development.

Put simply, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals give us a global framework to help shape our future for the better – a set of goals the NSW Government is striving toward.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the United Nations Association of Australia and its members for working together for the future of our planet.