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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Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time.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


Chapter 40 of Agenda 21

In a country as vast and diverse as Australia, the collection and analysis of data and information to assist decision-making is a major challenge. There are many gaps in our knowledge of the continent, its physical and biological resources and the impacts of human activity on the environment. These gaps are perhaps most pressing at the Local and State Government level.

Primary responsibility for the collection and collation of economic and social statistics in Australia rests with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), an agency of the Department of the Treasury. Environmental information is held by a diverse range of institutions, including the ABS and other Government agencies. The following table provides information on some of the principal agencies and organisations involved in the collection, collation and analysis of sustainable development information in Australia.

Conditions and costs of access to information varies between the custodians of sustainable development information and between the various types of information. Legislation and formal agreements covering conditions of access and charging policy underlie the policies of most information providers in the government sector.

Schedule 1 of the InterGovernmental Agreement on the Environment (IGAE) provides for the Australian Land Information Group, in consultation with relevant national coordination bodies and Commonwealth (Federal) and State/Territory jurisdictions, to ensure the development and maintenance of comprehensive directories of natural resources and environmental spatial datasets and to develop and maintain national natural resource data standards.

There are numerous projects underway, including by the ABS, other government agencies at the Commonwealth and State level and in research and teaching institutions, which are aimed at developing methods of integrating economic, social and environmental information with a view to better understanding the sustainable development implications of human activity. These include state of environment reporting, the development of indicators of sustainable development, methods for resource valuation and the evolution of systems of environmental accounting. Projects relevant to resource accounting have been initiated in a number of agencies and include a forests inventory and a pollutants inventory.

Australia's international assistance

In addition to its efforts domestically, Australian expertise has been used, through Australia's program of international development cooperation, to strengthen developing countries' capacities to collect and use multisectoral data for environmental, natural resources and land use planning. For example in the Philippines, three recent projects - the Remote Sensing Project, the Natural Resources Management and Development Project and the Mount Pinatubo GIS project - have addressed this goal with a particular emphasis on satellite based remote sensing methods. Together these projects will have expended $37 million. In Thailand, the Land Titling and Bangkok Land Information Systems projects ($20 million) also assist in land resource and land use planning. The Sea Level and Climate Monitoring project in the South Pacific and the Sea Level Rise Monitoring project in the Maldives seek to assist in the collection of data on climate change and its effect on sea levels which are of crucial importance to small island states.

Case Studies:

For further information contact:

Australian Bureau of Statistics, or
Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories