South East Queensland’s projected population and its environmental footprint
Authors: Maher, Ray; Skinner, Peter
ABSTRACT: South East Queensland’s current population of 2.8 million is projected to reach 4.4 million
by 2031. At the global scale, unchecked population growth and rampant consumption is clearly
damaging the ecosystems of the planet. The current dilemma in South-East Queensland is whether we
should continue to share the amenity and resources of this region through continuing population inflow,
and whether resource consumption has or will exceed the sustainable capacity of the region.
This study applies Global Footprint Network methodology, using Australian data to assess likely
regional impacts relative to sustainable bio-capacity. Key dimensions of Australian consumption are
assessed relative to the international database, and benchmarked to countries with a high Human
Development Index. The study confirms clearly that current consumption patterns are excessive, but
concludes that the proposed 2031 population may be able to be sustained within the SEQ Region,
provided significant changes to our current lifestyle and patterns of land use are adopted.
The paper recognises that the issue of sustainable population growth is a scientific question, but one
that requires a political response. To that end, the paper seeks to communicate its findings through
contextualised graphs that relate the magnitude of the issues directly to its local impacts.