Using a state, pressure, response framework, we provide an evidence-based reflection on environmental outcomes in Australia and New Zealand across the domains of climate change, biodiversity, freshwater and marine management, emphasising the role of Indigenous and business perspectives. Significant developments have occurred in the past 20 years through affirmation of Indigenous rights and responsibilities. Responses to climate change have tended to emphasise passive risk management with unclear outcomes. Despite meeting biodiversity protection targets, outcomes are worsening, suggesting a need to challenge the dualistic preservation/production land categorisations. In freshwater and marine management, a mix of collaborative and market-based responses has emerged, although their efficacy remains untested. A reliance on voluntary approaches by business makes critical assessment of progress difficult. Thus, despite strong progress in some areas, the adaptiveness of environmental management remains limited, and many indicators suggest continuing decline in environmental condition. Our responses have been largely pacifying in nature, leading to perverse outcomes and failure to acknowledge alternatives that might address deteriorating environmental conditions. A shift is needed towards deliberative policy experimentation that truly values the application of novel and diversified approaches and facilitates integrated learning across environmental domains.