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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Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time.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's report to the UNCSD - 1995

Implementation of Agenda 21
Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, 1995
ISBN 0 6444 3152 0

What is a national report ?

Countries report to the Commission on Sustainable Development in response to a decision of the first CSD meeting, held in June 1993, to request all countries to provide annual voluntary information. National Reports focus on national measures to give effect to the commitments to Agenda 21 entered into at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 1992.

The Commission further decided that the information to be provided by countries in 1994, 1995 and 1996 should concentrate on those issues scheduled for discussion at the CSD's meetings in those years. Together, these three Reports will form a comprehensive national response to Agenda 21. The CSD uses National Reports to measure, in broad terms, international progress towards the implementation of Agenda 21. It also tries to develop a database of priorities, approaches and impediments which could be relevant to developing further international responses to issues of sustainability.

The secretariat to the CSD issues guidelines for each annual report, however the CSD offers countries three alternative ways of reporting:

For the 1995 Report, Australia has chosen to base its report on the guidelines and to provide, where appropriate, case studies of particular policies or programs. Australia's approach to the guidelines has been to provide responses to all questions where this is appropriate and feasible. It should be noted that some matters covered by the CSD's guidelines are not directly relevant to Australia and that other sections of the guidelines request information which is either not available in Australia or would be costly to collate and analyse. An over-riding principle guiding Australia's reporting to the CSD is that the report should be useful in both a domestic and international context.

Overview of the 1995 report

In accordance with the CSD's guidelines, Australia's 1995 National Report deals with those issues on the CSD's 1995 work program. The sectoral focus of this report is therefore a range of issues falling broadly under a heading of 'land resources'. They include Agriculture, Desertification and Drought, Forests and Biological Diversity. Other issues covered by the Report include Biotechnology, Population, Poverty, Science and Information. Several issues, Finance and Technology Transfer and the Role of Major Groups, appear in National Reports for each year of the current cycle.

How was this report written?

The preparation of this Report was overseen by an Editorial Committee composed of the following members:

National (Commonwealth Government) members:

The Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories (convenor)
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
The Department of Primary Industries and Energy
The Department of Industry, Science and Technology
The Australian International Development Assistance Bureau

State and Local Government members:

A representative of the Government of the State of Victoria, nominated by the Intergovernmental Committee on Ecologically Sustainable Development to represent all States and Territories
The Australian Local Government Association

Non-Government Organisation members:

The Australian Council for Overseas Aid
The Business Council of Australia
The National Farmers Federation
The World Wide Fund for Nature (Australia)

Initial drafts of each chapter of the Report were prepared by a Commonwealth Government department or agency with the relevant domestic responsibility. The initial drafts were provided to the Editorial Committee, all State, Territory and Local Government members of the Intergovernmental Committee on Ecologically Sustainable Development, and to approximately 30 non-government organisations with interests in the subject matter of the reports. Comments and suggestions from all groups were referred to the Editorial Committee and the Report was finalised on the basis of the Committee's recommendations.

The Editorial Committee took the view that, wherever possible, NGO suggestions on matters of fact or emphasis should be reflected in the body of the Report. Where comments critical of Government policy could not be accommodated in the official response to the CSD guidelines, text reflecting the comments provided by NGOs was agreed by the Editorial Committee and included in the Report as an identified NGO comment.

The final Report was approved by the following Ministers:

The Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories, Senator the Hon John Faulkner;
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Gareth Evans QC;
The Minister for Development Cooperation and Pacific Island Affairs, The Hon Gordon Bilney MP;
The Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Senator the Hon Bob Collins; and
The Minister for Resources, the Hon David Beddall MP.

before being referred to the Prime Minister, the Hon P J Keating MP, for his approval.