Environment Australia, 2002
- How the activities of the organisation, and the administration of legislation by the organisation, accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development (section 516A(6)(a))
- How the outcomes specified in a relevant Appropriations Act contribute to ecologically sustainable development (section 516A(6)(b))
- Effect of the organisation's activities on the environment (section 516A(6)(c))
- Measures being taken by the organisation to minimise the impact of its activities on the environment (section 516A(6)(d))
- Mechanisms, if any, for reviewing and increasing the effectiveness of these measures (section 516A(6)(e))
The following is a summary of activities by Environment Australia in 2001-02 in accordance with section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The complete section 516A report is on Environment Australia's web site at www.ea.gov.au
Activities which generally recognise and promote ecologically sustainable development, such as:
- working with other portfolios to reach positions for Australia to pursue within international multilateral forums and organisations;
- in 2001-02, international activities to promote ecologically sustainable development focused on preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development and on working with trade policy officials in developing Australia's position for the trade and environment aspects of the Doha Development Mandate;
- administering the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and the Natural Heritage Trust of Australia Act 1997, both of which explicitly recognise these principles;
- monitoring and reporting on ecologically sustainable development performance by governments and industries;
- in 2001-02, Environment Australia published Australia's first report against a set of National Headline Sustainability Indicators;
- administering programmes which facilitate the delivery of ecologically sustainable development outcomes at the local level; and
- raising awareness of the concept of ecologically sustainable development through public relations activities and environmental education.
Activities which integrate environmental, social, economic and equitable consideration, such as:
- integration of interests of all stakeholders in decision-making processes under the Natural Heritage Trust and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality;
- participation in national processes for the protection and management of Australia's marine environment;
- management of national reserve areas to allow for multiple uses;
- for example, the goal of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is 'to provide for the protection, wise use, understanding and enjoyment' of the Great Barrier Reef while the aims of the authority include, among a range of other objectives, providing for 'reasonable use' and 'economic development consistent with meeting the goal and aims of the authority';
- participation in the implementation of the Council of Australian Governments' Water Reform Framework for the protection and management of Australia's freshwater resources; and
- partnerships with Australian business and industry to improve their triple bottom line.
Activities which employ, or promote the use of the precautionary principle, such as:
- consideration of the precautionary principle in making a number of decisions under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (as listed in section 391 of the Act);
Activities which aim to promote conservation of the environment for the benefit of future generations, such as:
- collaboration with other Commonwealth departments and other jurisdictions to ensure that resources such as fisheries (through Environment Australia's marine and coastal activities), freshwater and land resources (under the Natural Heritage Trust and the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality) are sustained for the benefit of future generations;
- conservation of World Heritage properties, Commonwealth marine areas, Ramsar wetlands, and threatened and migratory species through their treatment as matters of national environmental significance under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act;
- protection of the environment from the long-term impacts of nuclear actions through their treatment as a matter of national environmental significance under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and through the activities of the Supervising Scientist Division;
- conservation of Commonwealth reserves under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and of representative ecosystems through the National Reserve System and marine protected areas;
- industry programmes, atmosphere programmes and chemicals risk assessment and management programmes which aim to protect the environment from long-term damage;
- in 2001-02, 2374 facilities provided pollutant emissions reports under the National Pollutant Inventory, an increase of more than 400 reporting facilities from the previous year.
Activities which ensure that biodiversity and ecological integrity are fundamental to decision-making, such as:
- extending the Natural Heritage Trust to establish biodiversity conservation as one of the three overarching objectives of the Trust, and a fundamental consideration in decision-making;
- the overarching objectives of the extension of the Natural Heritage Trust are:
- biodiversity conservation - the conservation of Australia's biodiversity through the protection and restoration of terrestrial, freshwater, estuarine and marine ecosystems and habitat for native plants and animals;
- sustainable use of natural resources - the sustainable use and management of Australia's land, water and marine resources to maintain and improve the productivity and profitability of resource based industries;
- community capacity building and institutional change - support for individuals, landholders, industry and communities with skills, knowledge, information and institutional frameworks to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable resource use and management;
- developing recovery plans and threat abatement plans for threatened species and communities under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act;
- in 2001-02, 60 recovery plans for threatened species and communities were put in place under the Act;
- funding of projects under the Endangered Species Programme;
- in 2001-02, 89 projects were funded under the Endangered Species Programme covering 563 nationally listed species and one ecological community;
- management of Commonwealth reserves under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and of representative ecosystems through the National Reserve System and marine protected areas;
- in 2001-02, funding was approved under the National Reserve System covering 1160 million hectares including 312 ecosystems poorly represented or unrepresented in the existing reserve system;
- in 2001-02, conservation assessments were carried out for two unique areas off the southern Australian coast under the Commonwealth Marine Protected Areas Programme;
- provision of quality information (through, for example, the Australian Biological Resources Study, the national State of the Environment report, the National Vegetation Information System, as well as research, assessment and communications activities conducted by the Supervising Scientist Division, the Australian Antarctic Division and the Bureau of Meteorology) which enable informed consideration of biodiversity conservation in decision-making through, for example, mapping the locations of many endangered ecological communities;
- contributing to international decision-making in the development of multilateral agreements for the conservation of particular species;
- on 4 October 2001 Australia became the first country to ratify the international Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels.
Activities which aim to improve valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms, such as:
- working in partnership with Australian business and industry to improve valuation by industry to include environmental and social costs and benefits;
- working with other Commonwealth departments and other jurisdictions under the Council of Australian Governments' Water Reform Framework, to seek to ensure that pricing of resources and infrastructure reflects the full range of costs;
- under the Water Reform Framework, water service providers must now operate on a commercial basis while new investment in rural water supplies is limited to ecologically sustainable and economically viable projects;
- under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality, identifying market-based incentives for landholders as important stimuli in achieving improved water quality and salinity outcomes.
The Environment and Heritage portfolio's role is to achieve three major outcomes for the Commonwealth Government. The outcomes are:
- the environment, especially those aspects that are matters of national environmental significance, is protected and conserved;
- Australia benefits from meteorological and related science and services; and
- Australia's interests in Antarctica are advanced.
contributes directly to ecologically sustainable development by protecting and conserving the environment, with its major focus on threats that are serious enough to be of national significance. Thus it contributes to protecting biodiversity and ecological systems and to maintaining the health, diversity and productivity of the environment for future generations. Outputs which deliver the ecologically sustainable development aspects of Outcome 1 are discussed in section 1 above on how Environment Australia's activities accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development.
does not explicitly contribute to ecologically sustainable development, although the information outputs which deliver this outcome may contribute to ecologically sustainable development.
does not explicitly contribute to ecologically sustainable development, but one of the goals of the Australian Antarctic Division is to protect the Antarctic environment, the Southern Ocean and the Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands, including by developing ways to minimise human impact, remediating past work sites, administering environmental legislation, developing policy and undertaking research. It thus contributes to ecologically sustainable development by providing information which enables biodiversity conservation and ecological systems to be considered in decision-making, and by protecting the health and diversity of the Antarctic environment for future generations.
Environment Australia's mission of 'national leadership in the protection and conservation of the environment' ensures that the effect on the environment of most of its activities, including policies, programmes and administration of legislation, is a positive one. Positive effects of Environment Australia's activities on the environment in 2001-02 are detailed throughout this annual report.
In the course of its normal daily operations, Environment Australia also contributes to a range of negative impacts on the environment through its use of electricity, petrol, water, paper and other materials consumed and through its generation of waste. Measures to address these negative impacts are noted in section 4 below.
Through a structured Environmental Management System, which has been certified to the international standard ISO 14001, Environment Australia monitors a range of its operational activities including energy management, transport (departmental fleet), waste management, purchasing and water management. The system provides a framework for considering and minimising environmental impacts within the context of continual improvement.
Significant achievements include:
- 5 per cent reduction in tenant, light and power consumption;
- using approximately 44 per cent less than the Commonwealth energy target;
- 151.6 tonnes of waste diverted away from landfill; Department of the Environment and Heritage Annual Report 2001-02 319
- 16.5 tonnes of organic waste sent to a commercial worm farm;
- certification to ISO 14001 confirmed at the triennial audit of the Environmental Management System; and
- reduction in the car fleet by two vehicles.
Additionally, Environment Australia:
- is on target to achieve a 10 per cent reduction in energy consumption over five years;
- continues to use renewable green power for the John Gorton Building;
- has established environmental initiatives that will be incorporated into the refurbishment of the communications centre adjacent to the John Gorton Building;
- has incorporated a range of environmental initiatives in the design of the new office accommodation and laboratory facilities in Darwin;
- has established a new meteorological office at Adelaide Airport which will achieve significant improvements in energy efficiency, through innovative building and infrastructure design;
- has approved draft design briefs for the Willis Island Meteorological Office, a remote site in the Coral Sea, which are being assessed for a geothermal system, as well as solar and wind powered electricity production options; and
- has achieved reductions in paper usage through the outlet downloading of documents that are regularly revised.
The Environmental Management System and the Bureau of Meteorology's energy usage database provide a framework for measuring the effectiveness of actions taken to minimise Environment Australia's negative environmental impacts and for considering and addressing environmental impacts within the context of continual improvement.