Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts home page

About us | Contact us | Publications

header imagesheader imagesheader images

Publications archive - International Activities and Commitments


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Australia at the Summit

WSSD 2002 fact sheet
Environment Australia, August 2002

Australia has been a key player in the lead up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development. We have been working hard with other countries to make it a success and we have contributed more than $1 million towards making it happen.

Australia has spent more than 12 months on formal preparations, with an extensive consultation process informing both Australia's position and the composition of Australia's official delegation, which includes industry, State and Territory governments, non-government organisations and community groups.

Australia wants to see the Summit deliver a solid framework that encourages all players - citizens, community groups, business, governments and international organisations - to focus on practical and on-the-ground outcomes.

Australia wants to make sustainable development a way of life - not just in environmental terms but also in terms of health, poverty and education.


Australia has some specific priorities that reflect our particular expertise and interests. They include:

We will be announcing a number of these partnership initiatives - known as 'Type 2s'. They range from bringing experts together from around the world to accelerate protection of the biodiversity of the high seas and cracking down on illegal fishing to projects combating HIV and AIDS and encouraging a more sustainable and proactive energy sector.

Australia believes that the formal program of action to come out of the Summit is very important and that practical Type 2 partnerships will ensure that commitments translate into action.

One example of the constructive role Australia has already played in the lead up to the Summit is our success at the final preparatory meeting at Bali in achieving a strong outcome on oceans that provides a basis for international cooperation on issues like high seas biodiversity, coral reefs and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.

National roles and responsibilities for the environment have been clarified, getting rid of a lot of the uncertainty and duplication that held us back from real reform. National environment legislation has been integrated and strengthened in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - the EPBC Act.

We have goals and strategies for ecologically sustainable development - the Natural Heritage Trust, COAG Water Reform, the COAG Salinity and Water Quality Action Plan, the National Greenhouse Strategy, the National Oceans Policy, and Regional Forest Agreements are just a few.

The Australian Government has made historic levels of financial commitment to the environment, spending $1.5 billion on the Natural Heritage Trust with another $1 billion committed for the next four years; along with a $1.4 billion commitment with the states and territories to the National Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality, and climate change initiatives worth almost $1 billion.

International achievements

Australia is a world leader in the protection of whales, migratory marine and bird species and coral reefs. We have taken the lead internationally in promoting the need for better conservation and management of the biodiversity of the deep oceans and high seas.

Australia's financial commitment to developing countries is significant. Australia announced on the eve of the Summit the provision of more than $68 million to the Global Environment Facility over the next three years to help developing countries address key environmental problems. This is a 58 per cent increase in our contribution - the largest percentage increase by any country for this period.

Australia and climate change

Australia recognises that dealing with climate change will be a serious challenge for the international community, probably for much of this century. Climate change is a global problem with global drivers that requires a global response.

On current settings the Kyoto Protocol does not provide the basis for that global response; it will control only one quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. The US will not become a party and the Protocol does not establish a pathway towards commitments by developing countries.

In current circumstances, Australia will not ratify the Kyoto Protocol. But Australia will continue to develop and invest in programs to meet our target agreed in Kyoto. Moreover, the Government had recently announced a climate change agenda covering not just the period of the Kyoto Protocol, but a 20-30 year time horizon. We are focused beyond the life of the Protocol to deal with climate change in a way that is far more economically efficient and encompasses all major emitters.

Australia has committed about A$1 billion to climate change programs. These programs are working - they are estimated to save annually 60 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the decade. The latest projections of Australia's emissions trends indicate that Australia is in striking distance of its Kyoto target for 2008-2012.

Australia has also committed another $237 million in programs to assist developing countries to tackle climate change - particularly in the Pacific region.