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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Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time.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 - 1996

Implementation of Agenda 21
Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, 1996
ISBN 0 6422 4868 0


Chapter 33 of Agenda 21

Australia's Development Cooperation Program Budget

In the 1995-96 fiscal year, Australia will provide over $1.563 billion in official overseas development assistance (ODA) which is expected to equate to an overseas development assistance/gross national product (ODA/GNP) ratio of 0.33 percent. This represents a real increase in Australia's official aid effort over the previous year by 1.8 per cent and places Australia above the weighted average of 0.30 percent ODA/GNP for Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donors.

Ecologically sustainable development statement

Australia's revised policy statement on ecologically sustainable development (ESD), 'Towards a Sustainable Future: Ecologically Sustainable Development through Australia's Development Cooperation Program', was released in October 1994. This updates Australia's policy in light of Agenda 21 and the release of the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (NSESD).

The environmental aspects of ESD are addressed in the aid program on two levels:

The aid program, administered by AusAID, is subjected to an independent environment audit of its activities which is widely distributed. The audit examines AusAID procedures and practices to measure compliance with environmental requirements and promotion of environmental opportunities across the development cooperation program. Recommendations are made on how these might be improved to increase the positive environmental effects of AusAID's aid activities and also to minimise any negative effects.

Since 1991, an audit has been conducted annually. Following the release of the 1994 Audit in November 1995, AusAID will move to a combination of three yearly audits of environment related processes and systems, with evaluations of environment-related projects in the intervening years. This will expand the range of AusAID's environment reviews and reporting and allow more specific feedback into the design of future aid projects. Through these changes, AusAID will continue to be at the forefront of bilateral aid donors in the scope of its environmental review activities.

AusAID has also produced Country Environment Profiles which seek to match recipient countries' environmental needs with areas of Australian expertise. Profiles on Papua New Guinea and Indonesia have been completed and those on Laos and China will be published in early 1996.

Environment-related activities

Aid program expenditure on environment-related activities increased from an estimated $120 million in 1992 to over $160 million in 1994, reflecting the importance Australia places on the growing and urgent environmental needs in developing countries. Activities and programs that are specifically environmentally targeted include the Sea Level Rise and Climate Monitoring Project in the Pacific ($7 million for Phase II from 1995-2000); $24 million to extend the capabilities of the Indonesian Environmental Impact Management Agency; $7 million for a watershed planning project in eastern Indonesia; $6.2 million for the Papua New Guinea Department of Environment and Conservation Strengthening project; and $4.3 million for a broad-based community welfare and economic development program which will assist in the conservation of the Queen Alexander Butterfly and its habitat in Papua New Guinea. Australia also funds a number of activities under the Non-Government Organisations Environment Initiative which allocates approximately $1.5 million annually.

Australia focuses considerable attention on providing environmental assistance to the South Pacific through the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), to which Australia has contributed $3 million in the past two financial years (1993-94 and 1994-95). Through its funding for SPREP, Australia is supporting the National Environment Management Strategies (NEMS) program. The NEMS program assists Pacific Island countries to improve their legal and regulatory frameworks with the aim of integrating environment and development goals. The program involves an assessment of existing laws, with amendments or new legislation recommended where appropriate. It should also be noted that some 700 students sponsored under the development cooperation program are currently studying environment-related subjects in Australia.

Green development import finance facility

In addition to these explicitly environmental activities, there are many others which have significant environmental components. The 1994-95 budget included the introduction of a $20 million per annum Green Development Import Finance Facility (DIFF) initiative designed to transfer environmentally friendly technology, such as a major water treatment facility in Jiangsu Province, China, and also finance important environmental infrastructure. The initiative aims to fund projects to improve water and sanitation and help confront problems arising from rapid industrialisation in the region, including activities to assist with air and water pollution control, clean energy technology, improved energy efficiency and waste management.

Multilateral development organisations

In the past three financial years (1993-94 to 1995-96), AusAID has contributed $733.2 million to international organisations including $483.4 million to the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and $249.9 million to United Nations programs. Australia provides core support to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) ($A18.16 million in 1995-96) and to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) ($A1.1 million in 1995-96). Australia therefore maintains a keen interest the objectives, effectiveness and efficiency of multilateral organisations it supports. >

Australia supports both the World Bank's and the Asian Development Bank's (ADB's) efforts to incorporate ESD principles into their operations. Australia attaches considerable importance to the World Bank sponsored National Environmental Action Plans and has urged the bank to incorporate these into country assistance strategies.

Copies of the banks' environmental assessments of project proposals are provided to the Australian Government's Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and to non-government organisations (NGOs) through the Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA). Any comments received on these reports are provided to the relevant bank through the Australian Executive Director's office prior to Board consideration of the project.

Global environment facility and montreal protocol

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is a financial mechanism that provides grant and concessional funds to recipient countries for projects and activities that aim to protect the global environment. Australia committed A$30 million to the Pilot Phase of the GEF (1991-94) and A$42.76 million to the GEF Phase 1 (1994-97). Australia participates in the GEF as part of a constituency with New Zealand and the Republic of Korea; AusAID currently holds the Constituency's Member position in the GEF Council (until June 1997) which is the main governing body for all issues related to GEF operations.

The Government has pledged US$7.9 million (approx. A$11.1 million) to the Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund over the period 1994-97.

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) promotes collaborative research amongst Australian scientists and their developing country counterparts on key aspects of sustainable agriculture including: better land, forest and water management; improved animal husbandry and health; improved management of coastal and marine ecosystems; more effective agronomic practices; minimisation of toxic chemical inputs; and socio-economic aspects of sustainable natural resource development and management.

Support to the ACIAR and the international agricultural research centres (IARCs) totalled about $36.7 million in 1994-95. Expenditure for 1995-96 is expected to be over $39 million, which includes Australia's contribution to the IARCs of $9.1 million.

ACIAR has been aware of the need to consider the environmental aspects of agricultural research since its inception in 1982. In addition to funding projects to enhance the sustainability of agriculture, it has developed procedures for screening projects to guard against negative impacts. Meetings and workshops with developing country institutions and international agencies to define agricultural problems which are amenable to solution through research have given high priority to serious environmental problems such as soil erosion, desertification, salinisation and control of pests and weeds, as well as environmental pollution and the over-exploitation of marine resources.

The report of the World Commission on Environment and Development helped to crystallise international concern about agricultural sustainability and the Technical Advisory Committee of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research has reviewed the implications for future research in a report on sustainable agricultural production. This report emphasised that a sustainability perspective should be added to the agricultural research programs of its sixteen international agricultural research centres, that is the long term resource implication and possible environmental impacts should be considered in addition to gains in productivity. Expressed in economic terms, the recommendation is that technologies should be designed to sustain and even enhance the present stocks of environmental resource capital so that future dividends can be ensured and enlarged.