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Minister for the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2001-2004

The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP



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Joint Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
Federal Minister for Trade
Mark Vaile

18 May 2004

New era for United States and Australia environmental cooperation

The Governments of the United States of America and Australia signed in Washington today an historic Joint Statement on Environmental Cooperation.

The Joint Statement acknowledges the two countries' many shared environmental priorities and challenges, including improving air and water quality, protecting their natural resources and biodiversity, better understanding climate change, mitigating the effect of chemicals on the environment, and protecting the marine environment.

The Statement strengthens the Governments' commitments to knowledge sharing and cooperation in addressing environmental issues. It also expresses the desire of the United States and Australia to continue cooperative efforts and to strengthen their ties in regional and international forums in which environmental issues are considered, including the United Nations and WTO.

Signing on behalf of the Australian Government, Trade Minister Mark Vaile said the Statement reflected deep levels of cooperation between Australia and the United States.

"The relationship between the United States and Australia is as close as it's ever been. At a time when we are embarking on a ground-breaking Free Trade Agreement that will benefit current and future generations of both countries enormously, it is appropriate to formalise our strong cooperation towards sustaining and protecting our environment," Mr Vaile said.

"Our increased cooperation better equips our two countries to develop new technologies and to implement world-leading approaches to addressing environmental issues — both now and in the future," he said.

Mr Vaile and US Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky signed the Statement during Mr Vaile's visit to sign the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement. While the Joint Statement is not a part of the legal text of the Agreement, it does formalise the good work that Australia and the United States already do together through the United Nations, international conventions, and with other countries.

United States-Australia Joint Statement on Environmental Cooperation

  1. The Government of the United States of America and the Government of Australia recognize that they share common concerns and similar responsibilities for protecting and conserving the environment in their respective jurisdictions, and have a common interest in advancing global environmental improvement and protection. The Governments further note that they face similar environmental challenges such as expanding urban populations, concentrated industrial activity, and sustainable use of natural resources.
  2. The United States and Australia have a long and productive history of cooperation on environmental issues. The Governments recognize the important environmental work that they have accomplished bilaterally, including through the U.S.-Australia Climate Action Partnership and in areas such as botanic gardens, endangered and migratory species, Antarctica, meteorological and oceanographic research and management, and whale and ozone protection. The Governments look forward to continued cooperation in these areas and to future bilateral environmental activities in other areas, including national parks, wetlands, oceans management, conservation of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic ecosystems, biodiversity conservation, invasive species and natural heritage management.
  3. The United States and Australia share common goals in advancing science and technology initiatives to address environmental challenges. These initiatives include improving productive and sustainable natural resource use and global observation, developing cleaner, renewable and more efficient energy, and advancing agricultural technologies, including biotechnology. The United States and Australia are close partners in the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy, and the Ad Hoc Group on Earth Observations, and they look forward to the completion of a bilateral agreement on science and technology cooperation.
  4. The Governments also recognize the importance of multilateral environmental activities and acknowledge the close cooperation between the two countries in preparing for and participating in international environmental meetings and conferences on topics including protection, conservation or management of national parks and world heritage sites, endangered and migratory species, Antarctica, ocean affairs, marine living resources, chemicals and hazardous wastes, ozone protection, global climate change, forests, coral reefs, biological diversity and biosafety. The Governments further note the close cooperation between the two countries in environment related meetings of the United Nations agencies and the WTO. The United States and Australia intend to continue these cooperative efforts and desire to further strengthen their ties in these and other international forums in which environmental issues are considered.
  5. The Governments also acknowledge their successful environmental cooperation in the Asia Pacific region, including as members of the South Pacific Regional Environmental Program, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. The Governments recognize the importance of these regional efforts and intend to continue to pursue joint efforts to build capacity in the region for improved environmental stewardship and protection. Such future regional work may include developing or supporting further WSSD Type II initiatives in the Asia Pacific region.
  6. To further advance the collaboration and cooperation between the United States and Australia, the Governments intend to consult regularly to review ongoing cooperative activities, identify priority areas for potential future cooperative activities, and to the extent appropriate, review other matters related to this statement. In particular, the Governments intend to consider bilateral collaborative efforts to assist third countries build capacity in the areas described in Paragraphs 2, 3, 4 and 5 above.
  7. The Governments believe that participation of the public , and cooperation between governments and the community, are important means of enhancing environment stewardship , protection and conservation and sustaining natural resource management . The United States and Australia will continue to promote public participation, including soliciting and taking into account, as appropriate views of the public, including stakeholders, with respect to ongoing and future cooperative activities between the two countries.
For the Government of the
United States of America:
For the Government of
Paula Dobriansky
Under Secretary for Global Affairs
U.S. Department of State
The Hon. Mark Vaile , MP
Minister for Trade
Washington, D.C.
18 May 2004
Commonwealth of Australia