Together for a stronger Bega:
the time is now

Bega Valley is a special corner of Australia. This is a community that has burnt together, has stood shoulder to shoulder against some of the most intense and devastating bushfires (nearly two thirds of the region was burnt in the 2019-2020 Black Summer fires), has suffered significant economic loss through the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on local tourism and travel into the region, and is facing into the challenges that climate change and climate variability present to agriculture, aquaculture, tourism and the environment.

From 2022 to 2025, the program will identify, accelerate and implement enabling projects which will support the delivery of circularity, stimulate a regional circular marketplace and a vibrant eThe region has responded to the Black Summer Bushfires by significantly increasing their focus on climate resilience. COVID-19 is giving us the opportunity to work remotely potentially attracting talent back into the region. A perceptible sustainability conscience is also gaining momentum and spreading throughout the community.

Powered by global circularity expertise, implementation rigour and The confluence of these shifts requires to re-think how recovery can be accelerated, resilience in rural areas developed and a smarter region built back smarter. It requires us to bring together the various existing initiatives driven by communities in the Shire, by large, and small to medium enterprises, and by local, state and federal government into a cohesive multi-year regional development program with the single purpose of creating a more liveable Bega Valley Shire and setting a benchmark on which other agricultural communities can aspire to. Our vision is to establish Bega Valley Shire (BVS) as the most circular regional economy by 2030 that will inspire other regions to follow through a proposed program that will support vibrant regional industries and communities through collaborative and engaging initiatives.

The Circular Economy:
a latent opportunity in the Bega Valley

Currently the world is only 9% circular in its use of resources. This means 91% of the resources are being used for a single purpose or are being wastefully consumed. Left unabated, this linear resource use mindset is resulting in economic and environmental losses and creating social tensions. Communities like Bega are impacted by the take-make-dispose linear use of resources that pressures jobs, environments and communities.

Solutions are already in place (e.g. sustainable oyster farms teaming up with kelp farmers to breed complementary algae and composting oyster shells).

The Bega Circular Valley group imagines a future where Bega is a lighthouse model for regional Australia, a model for how economic, environmental and social resilience can thrive.

We imagine a pristine valley is now home to a regionally based economy. It is an innovation hub with diversified industry activities, a mixed farming program that supports biodiversity and is dealing with climate change through carbon neutrality and zero waste to landfill, and is admired by residents and visitors. A place that attracts tourists, students, entrepreneurs and investors to experience and participate in this uniquely circular valley.

As has been proven in Scandinavia and the Netherlands, this is an attainable vision if adequate support through a structured circular economy program is provided.

Honouring the past and embracing the future for a stronger Bega Valley. The people of Bega Valley Shire imagine a future where the region is famous for more than its pristine forests, waterways and beaches. Where the Shire is not economically dependent on a few major sectors but supports a diversified and innovative mix of sustainable enterprises. The people of this region are prepared to do all they can to honour their past and celebrate a brighter future.

“Our goal is to create a legacy for the future generations of the Bega Valley, and be an example for other regions to follow as the most circular Valley in Australia”

Barry Irvin AM – Bega Group Executive Chairman

The Mission

BCV 2030 program isn’t simply about zero waste to landfill and optimising recycling. This program is about linking regenerative economic, environmental development with social equity across the region, underpinned with efficient water and energy utilisation. The delivery will be driven by a community owned co-operative enterprise that will facilitate the delivery of circular projects, invest in critical infrastructure and community initiatives and become a global leader in a range of product areas.
As an outcome, our objective is for the Cooperative to support the Bega valley in becoming the most circular valley in Australia and a lighthouse regional development project.

What does it mean for the Bega Valley?

Initially, the region will focus on supporting circular initiatives based on regenerative resource management. This is because of the region’s strength and dependence on agriculture and aquaculture activities.

Consequently, a focus of the ‘Circular Bega Valley 2030’ program and measure of the short, medium and longer term success will be the number of small, medium to large companies engaging with the material resources marketplace within the BVS.

Assisting companies develop innovative solutions is a focus of the ‘Circular Bega Valley 2030’ program.
In a world of interconnected economies, a systems led approach applied via circularity will help Bega achieve;

  • Value preservation: designing out waste/pollution
  • Resource optimisation
  • System effectiveness – regeneration of Gross Regional Product (GRP) as well as natural (environment) systems
  • Strengthen social fabric and sense of community across the region
  • Collaboration across different sectors in the region, aligning multiple initiatives

Unpacking the deliverables

Circular Economy Capability: Diversify and strengthen the regions capacity for systemic innovation, resource efficiency, diversification of industry, creation of new income streams, revenue models and meaningful jobs through the circular economy.

Resilience:  Instil greater economic and environmental resilience, regional regeneration and social cohesion post the devasting bushfires and co-ordinate public and private investment in critical infrastructure required to support the recovery and resilience of the region.

Regional Vision:  Create a clear unifying sense of purpose for the Bega Valley Shire, one that retains and attracts talent to the region and improves the living standards of local people and the diversity of natural habitat of the region.

Environmental management:  Strengthen the biodiversity of this special corner of the world by weaving together the regions greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, environmental ecology improvement targets, water and energy security, economic diversity ambitions, improved participation in education, innovation activity and sense of community.

Circular-Focused Practices:  Incorporate circular public sector best practice policy frameworks, place-based differentiation and circular provenance mark (Born in Bega) to instil pride in Bega Valley Shire’s local produce and services that are exported.

Stakeholder Management:  Engage consumers and businesses as key enablers of the Bega Circular Valley 2030 program.

Innovation Leadership: Create a centre of expertise and innovation on circularity attracting young talent to the Bega Valley.

Collaboration: Share intelligence in order to overcome challenges together and reduce the risk of failure and economic dependency on a few major businesses by inspiring and incentivising collective effort to create the most circular Valley in Australia.

Funding: Fund the delivery of critical community infrastructure assets that enable resource efficiency and community resilience and support environmental and economic development.

Measure: Our progress needs to be tracked which requires a baseline to be drawn. Measurable outcomes are essential to verify our success, certify our products and attract investments in the region.