Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2012
Corporate outcome: International policy advice
In addition to involvement in issue-specific international forums (detailed in other chapters of this report), in 2011-12 the department was active in a number of multilateral and regional meetings as part of the government’s sustainability agenda.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
UNEP provides leadership and promotes partnerships for environmental protection. The department led Australia's delegation to the 12th special session of UNEP's Governing Council and the Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Nairobi, Kenya, from 20-22 February 2012. Decisions adopted at the meeting covered:
- international environmental governance
- the world environmental situation
- sustainable consumption and production
- the consultative process on financing options for chemicals and wastes
- enhancing cooperation and coordination with the chemicals and wastes cluster
- financial and administrative arrangements between UNEP and the multilateral environmental agreements
- enhanced coordination across the UN system.
Ministerial-level consultations addressed the themes of the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for sustainable development. Further information on the meeting is at <www.unep.org/gc/gcss-xii/>.
UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)
The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 20-22 June 2012. Australia was instrumental in contributing to international efforts to accelerate progress towards achieving sustainable development. At the Rio+20 Conference, 191 nations agreed on a 49-page negotiated outcomes text The Future We Want which reflects Australia's priorities for the future of sustainable development. Australia received recognition for its strong advocacy on oceans, in particular commitments relating to marine protected areas, fisheries management and subsides, marine debris, ocean acidification and invasive species and a timetable for addressing the protection of biodiversity beyond national jurisdictions.
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
The department represented Australia in the OECD Environment Policy Committee (EPOC), which met in Paris from 2-4 May 2012. Discussions covered the review of the Russian Federation, Post Accession reporting of Chile, the EPOC Global Relations Strategy, as well as the outcomes of the EPOC Ministerial Meeting, the review the OECD Communication Plans for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) and the Programme of Work and Budget for 2013.
High-level Seminar on Environmentally Sustainable Cities
The East Asia Summit (EAS) was established in 2005 as a forum of national leaders for strategic dialogue and action on key challenges facing the region. As part of the EAS environment ministers' process, Australia co-organised (with Japan, Cambodia and Thailand) the 3rd EAS High-level Seminar on Environmentally Sustainable Cities (HLS-ESC) on 6-8 March 2012 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The seminar brought together policy makers, city officials, international organisations and academics to share information on policies and best practice in developing environmentally sustainable cities. The summary of the meeting is available at <www.hls-esc.org>.
Urban Sustainability: Adapting to Change Seminars
The department and CSIRO hosted the two seminars Urban Sustainability: Adapting to Change, in Can Tho, Vietnam and Makassar, Indonesia in March and April 2012. The seminars were funded by the department and AusAID's whole-of-government EAS Fund, and included financing the attendance of participants from Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, India, and Laos. The seminars were part of Australia's contribution to the EAS environment stream in 2012. Participants from EAS member countries used the forum to discuss urban sustainability and climate change adaptation.
Singapore Study Tour
From 14-17 May 2012 the department hosted a high-level study tour from the Singapore Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, National Environment Agency, and Public Utilities Board. This information sharing visit included briefing on public consultation, environmental impact statements and assessment processes, the National Pollutant Inventory and the draft Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
Annual bilateral discussions on environment with New Zealand
The secretary led a delegation to Wellington, New Zealand, on 11 August 2011 for the bilateral discussions on environment issues with officials from the New Zealand environment portfolio.The discussions covered the strategic directions of the two agencies on a range of shared issues including:
- the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)
- Pacific engagement
- water management
- chemicals and waste
- the Convention on Migratory Species.
These discussions strengthened the close relationship between our two countries on environmental management and stewardship.
Indonesia Working Group
The department coordinates the Australian Government's participation in the Australia-Indonesia Joint Working Group on Environment and Climate Change. The working group was established in 1996 to foster high-level engagement between senior officials from Australia and Indonesia, and is the primary vehicle through which the two governments formally discuss environment and climate change issues. The working group met in Canberra in February 2012 for discussions on a range of topics of mutual interest, including the Rio+20 conference, the East Asia Summit, marine issues and the blue economy, Indigenous engagement, mining, environmental compliance, water, climate change, transboundary pollution, and ozone.
Torres Strait Environmental Management Committee
The department represented Australia at the 20th meeting of the committee, held in Kokopo, Papua New Guinea (PNG), on 11 November 2011. Issues discussed included sustainable marine turtle and dugong management, fisheries management, invasive species, enhanced communication, integrated coastal zone management, and future development issues in the Torres Strait region. The committee also committed to developing community-based management plans for the management and conservation of marine resources for Treaty communities in the Western Province of PNG. This will mirror plans in place in Torres Strait communities that underpin the Indigenous Rangers Network Australia launched at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20).
Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)
The department works in the bilateral trade and environment arena through its input into the negotiation of Australia's Free Trade Agreements. In particular, the department has been involved in negotiations related to the TPP. The TPP is the government’s highest regional trade negotiation priority and the parties include Australia, Malaysia, Peru, the USA, Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada and Mexico. While the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has the lead on trade issues, the department provides advice and input on those issues related to its portfolio interests.