As we have seen through the 2019-2020 bushfire crisis, and in the current overlapping health and economic crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, those who are already marginalised suffer the most and this extends to the impacts of biodiversity loss and degradation.

Jesuit Social Services welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the Inquiry into Ecosystem Decline in Victoria, as loss of healthy biodiversity and habitat has ramifications for all Victorians.

The impacts of climate change and ecological injustice are rising and, as we attempt to address these impacts, this time of multiple crises is also opportune to address the root drivers of marginalisation and vulnerability – environmentally, economically and socially.

Our submission acknowledges that this Inquiry is occurring simultaneously with a state of disaster and emergency due to COVID-19 and the Inquiry into Victoria’s 2019-2020 bushfire season.

As predictions of climate change impacts are becoming more evident, there are realistic concerns that we are facing a series of emergencies and crises, all interconnected to our relationship with the environments we live within.

It is increasingly apparent, as has been articulated for decades now, that the burdens of ecosystem stress and destruction will not be borne equally.

Our submission emphasises the need to connect biodiversity impacts upon those most marginalised in our communities.

Without specific protective and preventative action by governments and policy makers, it is already disadvantaged people and communities who bear the brunt of climate impacts and other emergencies.

It is also the same communities that went through the 2019-2020 bushfires that remain at risk of further fires into the future.

The protection of healthy ecosystems and restorative approaches to healing broken ecological relationships is fundamental to the realisation of social equity and justice.

Our submission calls for an equitable, just and holistic response to protect our common home.