Publications archive - Ecologically Sustainable Development
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Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time.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.
Prepared by the Intergovernmental Committee for Ecologically Sustainable Development (Australia)
Department of the Environment, Sport & Territories, July 1996
ISBN 0 642 25615 2
The National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (NSESD) was endorsed by Heads of Government in 1992.
The reporting requirements for the Strategy, as set out in Chapter 33 of the Strategy, are that:
Governments will maintain the intergovernmental Ecologically Sustainable Development Steering Committee, all functions of which were taken over by the Intergovernmental Committee on Ecologically Sustainable Development (ICESD), to monitor the performance and development of the Strategy by:
The first report to COAG was released in December 1993 as the publication, Summary Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development.
During the second half of 1995 information on implementation from 1993 to the end of 1995 was collected from the three spheres of government. An extensive implementation report, Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Developmenthas been prepared from this information on activities up to 31 December 1995 and is available in hard copy and on the Internet .
Information from the implementation report is summarised here. Attachment 1 indicates the relationship between ICESD, COAG and the Ministerial Councils referred to in the summary report. Attachment 2 is a glossary.
A review of the Strategy is currently under way and outcomes are expected early in 1997.
Reporting has been limited to actions by Australian governments to implement the NSESD. A wide range of private sector activities not covered by this report are also relevant to progress in implementing ecologically sustainable development (ESD).
Implementation of the NSESD is most visible in a few key sectoral areas, for instance in agriculture and some areas of mining and manufacturing where there has been a close partnership between government and relevant industry and community groups. While it has taken some time for the principles of ESD to find their way into all relevant areas of decision making, and there is still much to do to achieve full implementation, clear progress has been identified. The increasing reflection of the principles and objectives of the NSESD in government decision making, best illustrated through the incorporation of the objectives of the NSESD in the strategies and programs of governments, in institutional arrangements and in legislation, indicates that the strategic approach will remain relevant in the coming years.
There is significant implementation in jurisdictions in a number of areas which are providing the tools for informing and educating the community about ESD. These include formal education and training; the collection and dissemination of natural resource and environment information; and community awareness, education and participation programs. Implementation in other areas appears to be patchy, for example in areas such as pricing, and conflict management. Similarly, there needs to be improved processes for including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their perspectives, knowledge, innovations and practices, in the implementation of ecologically sustainable development, in particular, as they relate to biological diversity. Jurisdictions have indicated that there appears to be a need for further coordination and integration of work on biological diversity and this may be an area for evaluation at Stage 2.
There is, however, a time lag between the implementation of ESD policy and when the state of the environment shows the benefits of such changes. Accordingly Governments have had to manage change in the face of initially equivocal data as to the effectiveness of such actions. Nevertheless the response, for example, to ozone layer depletion demonstrates a national capacity to implement policies in the face of slow environmental response.
Highlights where the influence of the Strategy is being most clearly demonstrated include the following.
The adoption and practice of ESD principles in cooperative national initiatives such as the National Landcare Program (NLP) and the National Environment Protection Council (NEPC), and in national strategic approaches dealing with issues such as the conservation of Australia's biological diversity, ecotourism and rangelands management, which flow on to State strategies and actions.
The adoption by industries (including agricultural industries) of sustainable production and cleaner production practices and private investment in these technologies.
The increasing number of community based and self-reliant approaches to ecologically sustainable resource management, for instance, through Landcare, the National Forest Policy, Property Management Planning, Coastcare and Fishcare.
The introduction, albeit on an experimental basis in some jurisdictions, of economic instruments as mechanisms to manage, amongst other things, water use, water pollution (including from non-point sources), noise, and the use of leaded petrol.
Work on sustainability indicators in Australia is progressing well in some areas, for instance in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, but is in a preliminary stage in others such as manufacturing and urban and transport planning. Accordingly there has been no attempt to measure the overall effectiveness of ESD implementation against general sustainability indicators.
This section summarises the implementation of Chapters 1 - 8 of the NSESD.
The Strategy requires the development of integrated policies and programs for natural resource management and that these promote community self reliance. It aims to encourage farmers to integrate property management plans with regional land management approaches and with good business practice. The Strategy also seeks to reduce and manage the impacts of pest plant and animal species, to develop a sustainable commercial kangaroo industry and to ensure that agricultural and veterinary chemicals are managed safely.
Since 1993, government activities for the development of integrated policies and programs for natural resource management include:
the Rural Partnership Program which was launched by the Agricultural and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand (ARMCANZ) in 1995 to be, amongst other things, a 'one stop shop' mechanism to coordinate delivery of existing rural support programs and other relevant programs;
the joint funding of cross border activities by some jurisdictions; and
in some jurisdictions, the restructuring or combining of institutional structures with the aim of integrating more effectively the social, strategic planning, business, conservation and land stewardship aspects of natural resource decision making.
A whole of catchment approach is increasingly being taken to solve problems whose impacts are felt at a more local level (for example, salinity, drought management, water pollution). The new approach is evident in the increasing number of integrated catchment management programs at the Commonwealth, State and Territory levels and is also evident in changes to legislation in some jurisdictions to reflect catchment management priorities. In New South Wales, for example, catchment management committees have been formed across the State and these are providing strategic resource management directions for their catchments and for the State. This same integrative thinking informs the development of programs focussing on the Murray-Darling Basin catchment area.
Landcare continues to play a vital role as a bridge between the community and government for developing and implementing sustainable farming practices throughout Australia and for continuing to inspire community self-reliance. Recent programs for other sectors, for example Fishcare and Coastcare, use Landcare as a model. The National Decade of Landcare Plan has been evaluated and the revised program reflects developments in the integrated approach to sustainable natural resource management and identifies performance indicators. Commonwealth, State and Territory Decade of Landcare Plans are now being evaluated.
The importance of integrating good business management with ecologically sustainable agricultural practices at the property level is well recognised by all spheres of government. This is evident in the way in which Property Management Planning has been taken up in the past two years both by jurisdictions and by individual property managers. Large numbers of groups and individuals have taken advantage of government assistance programs and extension services to increase their farm planning and risk management skills.
Most jurisdictions have or are finalising strategies, some with legislative backing, to control weeds and animal pest species. There is now a Kangaroo Industry Contact Group which is a joint ARMCANZ/ANZECC initiative to encourage a sustainable commercial kangaroo industry and a number of states have developed a profitable kangaroo industry.
New centralised programs to help with the management of agricultural and veterinary chemicals include the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Act 1994 and, since March 1995, a national scheme to evaluate and register agricultural and veterinary chemical products. There is also new Victorian legislation to control the use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals. The effect of farm chemicals is monitored through the National Residue Survey, the Australian Market Basket Survey and State programs. The feasibility of a system to monitor these chemicals in the environment and their effects on wildlife is being examined. All States now have training programs on farm chemical use and over 30 000 people have been trained. New South Wales has draft guidelines for assessing and remediating a variety of contaminated agricultural land.
The Strategy seeks to ensure that fisheries management agencies work within a resource stewardship framework, that national guidelines are developed for state of aquatic environment reporting and that information on ESD is disseminated to fishers and the wider community.
Since 1993 a number of States have amended their fisheries legislation to require fisheries to be managed in accordance with ESD principles. Most jurisdictions are moving in this direction. In the context of the Offshore Constitutional Settlement, new arrangements will allow for the management of fisheries along biological boundaries. National recreational fishing and aquaculture policies which seek to manage fish within an ESD framework are now in place and a variety of implementation measures in jurisdictions are being adopted. Other initiatives include:
To support fisheries resource stewardship at the global level, Australia has participated in the development of international legal instruments on blue fin tuna, management and conservation regimes for straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks, and on ballast water management.
An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Fisheries Strategy which aims for greater consultation and involvement by these people in the shared and sustainable use and management of coastal fisheries resources, including a consideration of traditional fisheries, is being prepared by the Ministerial Council on Forestry, Fisheries and Aquaculture (MCFFA).
Jurisdictions are participating in state of the marine environment reporting and, under the direction of the MCFFA, in the development of sustainability indicators and appropriate pricing and charging policies as tools to achieve the sustainable development of fisheries.
A number of jurisdictions actively disseminate information to the community on responsible and sustainable fishing practices and some jurisdictions provide training programs, including one, in Victoria, with the aim of crossing cultural barriers. A National Fishcare Program is being developed which will complement the aims and objectives of Coastcare and Landcare. Components of this program are already being implemented in jurisdictions as mechanisms to ensure the fishing community's involvement in fish habitat protection.
The NSESD requires that Australia's forests are managed and used on an ecologically sustainable basis, and that biodiversity is maintained while optimising benefits to the community. The Strategy also requires that all the values available from Australia's forests are used to enhance the quality of life for successive generations and sees this as including the development of an ecologically sustainable and internationally competitive forest products industry.
Since 1993 all States and Territories have progressed implementation of the National Forest Policy Statement. New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania have undertaken deferred forest assessments (DFA) and it is expected that these States will sign interim Agreements in early 1996, pending regional forest agreements (RFAs) being put in place within one to five years. RFAs will be based on cooperative and comprehensive regional assessments of environmental, heritage, social and economic forest values. These assessments will be used to negotiate the establishment of a comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system and appropriate standards for ecologically sustainable management of forests within the RFA areas. It is anticipated that several RFAs will be completed within the next two years.
At the national level, other milestones include the development of draft nationwide baseline environmental standards for the management of native forests, work on national criteria and indicators for assessing conservation and sustainable management of temperate and boreal forests, and an improved information base for forests under the National Forest Inventory Program. The first State of the Forests Report is being prepared and will be based on the objectives of the NSESD.
Governments are looking at various ways to maintain and increase their forest estate. In New South Wales forest estate on public and private lands is being maintained and expanded, forest operations on public lands are subject to approval following comprehensive environment impact statements, and high conservation and old growth forests have been given immediate protection pending the findings of an interim assessment process. Queensland is aiming to double native species plantations to reduce pressures on native forests and to include high conservation value State native forest within protected area estate. Under Western Australia's new Forest Management Strategy the adequacy and representativeness of the forest reserve system will be improved. Tasmania has a comprehensive code of forest practice to protect forest values and ensure proper reforestation. A number of jurisdictions are removing impediments to plantation forestry including on farms.
New mechanisms for increasing consultation on forest matters include the New South Wales Forestry Advisory Council (currently being formed), the Queensland Forest Policy Council and the Northern Territory Land Resource Coordination Group. Tasmania now has a legislative requirement to involve community consultation in forest management planning.
Jurisdictions are building up information bases . New South Wales is undertaking an interim assessment process to identify areas of forest which may be required for long term protection in a comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system. Victoria has completed a comprehensive Statewide assessment of wilderness values and is also preparing a State Forest Resources Inventory. Victoria and South Australia are also developing geographical information system (GIS) based forest management plans and Victoria is conducting a number of reviews of current forest management practices. Queensland is undertaking assessments of all forested environments, as outlined in their Greater Planning Certainty for the Timber Industry in Queensland, and have a scheduled completion date of 1998. Tasmania has a Management Decision Classification System whereby special zones, such as flora and fauna conservation areas and places with archaeological significance are identified so special values can be protected.
Jurisdictions are developing ecologically sustainable and internationally competitive forest products industries and encouraging other value added activities. These include:
For Australian pulpmills, national minimum environmental guidelines have been adopted.
For the manufacturing sector the strategy aims to move the industry towards achieving sustainability by embedding ESD principles in day-to-day operations, including by adopting best practice environmental management. The Strategy aims to encourage the development of Australian environment products and services; to provide information, education and the capacity to seek verification of environmental claims in marketing; to ensure that government product approvals are based on ESD principles; and to develop a sustainable approach to chemicals management.
Many jurisdictions have consolidated earlier work to encourage best practice environmental management. In some jurisdictions this has been through the establishment of centres to encourage cleaner production, notably the Australian Centre for Cleaner Production and through grants schemes, interest free loans, demonstration projects on cleaner production, and targeting certain industries, for instance, the chemicals industry in Victoria. Such activities are backed up by promoting successful case studies through educative programs and brochures. Promotion is expected to be reinforced through the National Cleaner Production Database, launched in December 1995, which aims to provide for information sharing, training and awareness raising about the environmental and efficiency benefits of cleaner production. The Commonwealth pilot Best Practice Environment Management Program has been expanded and enhanced to help Australian firms address environment management issues to improve productivity, and economic and environmental outcomes. Some jurisdictions are using environment audits to encourage industry to adopt best practice environment management. Environment audits can be legislatively based and may be voluntary or mandatory.
While the highlights of Chapter 19 on waste minimisation and management are not being dealt with in this summary report, it is useful to note here that the new industry waste reduction initiatives introduced by ANZECC in April 1995 as a key component of future national programs to reduce waste are likely to lead to cleaner production outcomes.
The NSESD has particularly focussed on phasing out the production of ozone depleting substances. Highlights of successful consultation and cooperation between government and industry have been Australia's:
Some jurisdictions are actively assisting Australia's environment management industry to develop and commercialise new products and services and to develop market opportunities in Australia and overseas. The Environment Cooperation with Asia Program (facilitating commercial linkages between Australia and Asia in environment management expertise) and the National Environment Industries Database (now called Environet, a network of databases set up on the Internet to provide information on the full range of Australian environment management expertise to industry and others with environmental problems) are two programs set up to address these issues. The cooperative research centre (CRC) program also assists in furthering these aims through CRCs such as the CRC for Waste Management and Pollution Control and the CRC for Renewable Energy.
The International Standards Organisation (ISO) standards for environment management systems and environmental auditing (the ISO 14000 series) are expected to play an important role in environment standard setting for industry in Australia. Industry is playing a central role in forums established by Standards Australia to develop Australia's position on these ISO standards.
New arrangements to streamline and increase the effectiveness of arrangements for the regulation and management of chemicals include the Clearing House of Commonwealth Agencies on Chemicals Safety which was established in 1994. At the Commonwealth level the Clearing House aims to bring together those agencies with interests in chemicals management; to be the mechanism for wide consultation between Commonwealth bodies and their constituencies; to facilitate the development of national positions; and to progress Australian commitments arising from Agenda 21.
Worksafe has continued its work on industrial chemicals. The effective management of chemicals in the workplace has been promoted through the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission's priority industry strategy program. An Existing Chemicals Review Program has been established to ensure that chemicals registered for marketing under less stringent conditions than today's can now be reassessed.
The Strategy seeks to ensure the existence of sound environmental practices throughout the mining industry, appropriate community returns from mineral resources, effective community consultation, and improved performance in occupational health and safety.
Since 1993 cooperation between jurisdictions and between industry and government agencies has led to the production of reports and information booklets on baseline environmental guidelines for mines; environmental standards; examples of best practice environmental management; environment management planning; and minesite rehabilitation and economic instruments to encourage minesite rehabilitation. Queensland and the Northern Territory have also prepared guidelines to assist industry. The Northern Territory has developed environmental monitoring systems and collaborated with the Commonwealth and industry to write a module on best practice in environmental monitoring.
In most States and Territories approaches to environmental management or rehabilitation of mines usually have a legislative basis. This may involve approved environment management plans or policies, mining licences based on environmental effects or environmental impact statements, compliance audits or environment inspectors with the power to issue work or shut down orders. Victoria has in place improved mechanisms for addressing environmental protection. In Queensland mining operations are covered by its Environment Protection Act 1994 which includes ESD principles. To control greenhouse emissions Western Australia is charging for gas lost through flaring in petroleum operations.
There are also a number of non-regulatory approaches including the possible participation of mining companies in the Cooperative Agreements program announced as part of the Greenhouse 21C package of measures in March 1995. In New South Wales, government agencies are cooperating with industry to develop a strategy to rehabilitate copper/zinc mines at Broken Hill. Queensland and Western Australia have award schemes for environmental excellence in mining. South Australia is developing tools for measuring achievement of environmental objectives in the petroleum industry and Western Australia is moving towards self-regulation in the mining industry.
Since 1993 there have been advances by the Australian and New Zealand Minerals and Energy Council (ANZMEC) and jurisdictions in the handling of royalties to ensure that there are appropriate community returns from mining.
Jurisdictions reporting on performance in the area of occupational health and safety have adopted, or are moving towards, a legislative approach. Western Australia's approach to occupational health and safety has led to national and international recognition. Its new regulations place the emphasis on 'duty of care'. This is an approach that Tasmania has taken through its Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 and that Queensland is currently considering along with the introduction of a safety management auditing system. Western Australia's emphasis on occupational health and safety (OHS) in mining includes a mine workers' health surveillance system which will collect and disseminate relevant health data and a computer based information service providing summaries of accidents and significant incident data, guidelines standards and safety bulletins.
The Strategy's approach to urban and transport planning is based on linkages between micro and macro urban systems. The Strategy aims to achieve more sustainable use of energy and natural resources through integrated urban and transport planning and through more efficient sub-division and building design.
The Urban Design Task Force which reported in November 1994 advocated a holistic and integrated approach to planning which supports these aims. There are a number of national programs which seek to stimulate the development of environmentally sustainable urban forms. These include the Better Cities program which, in promoting integrated urban development, has had a major impact on environmentally sustainable urban forms, and the Australian Urban and Regional Development Review (AURDR) which researches and develops policies for integrating urban and regional planning to ensure that the Government's economic, environment and equity objectives are met. AURDR, in cooperation with the State and Local Governments, will be the mechanism to take up the findings of a recent Industry Commission report, Taxation and Financial Policy Impacts on Urban Settlement. At the local planning level the Australian Model Code on Residential Development (AMCORD) aims to ensure commitment to the adoption of performance based planning approaches in the States and Territories. These approaches seek to combine good quality urban design with adaptability to local needs. AMCORD guidelines on house design will include research being done at present on such matters as waste disposal and management and bush fire protection.
The Better Cities program has been implemented in the States and Territories through specific strategic planning and area strategy projects. These are seen to be leading to ecologically sustainable development, economic growth, improved social justice, and improved urban environments and liveable cities. In a similar way jurisdictions are contributing to the development of AMCORD through, amongst other things, on the ground experience of good practice.
In New South Wales programs over the last two years have already led to a decrease in the rate of fringe expansion and a general acceptance of various forms of medium density housing leading to average housing densities in new subdivisions rising from eight to eleven dwellings per hectare. New South Wales' Metropolitan Strategy and Integrated Transport Strategy establish a framework for the management of growth in certain major centres and a whole of government approach to metropolitan planning. Outcomes from these strategies are carefully monitored for economic and development impacts.
To improve the efficiency of land supply and infrastructure provision, Victoria has operationalised its approach to urban planning through a new system of developer contributions. Victoria's Postcode 3000 program which emphasises support for low-cost accommodation is encouraging urban consolidation in Melbourne's central business district. Victoria's Urban Villages Project has been initiated to link energy efficient high density housing with public housing by a further development of 'cluster and connect' principles.
A highlight of Queensland management of land use and development is its new Planning, Environment and Assessment (PEDA) Bill which, at the end of 1995, was out for public comment. Its objective is to promote sustainable land use and development, and the economic, social and physical well being of people in a manner which takes into account the objectives of the NSESD. The Bill is comprehensive, seeking through its Integrated Development Assessment Scheme (IDAS), amongst other things, to streamline the procedures for considering development applications in the context of a whole planning environment and to promote AMCORD when dealing with urban consolidation and efficiency. For regional planning Queensland has established a number of Regional Planning Forums and the South East Queensland (SEQ2001) Regional Framework is moving into the implementation phase.
South Australia has been very responsive to AMCORD and is seeking ways to incorporate AMCORD 95 into its local development plans and to use AMCORD and AMCORD Urban as a primary tool in its application of the Green Street program. South Australia is actively encouraging urban consolidation. South Australia's Multifunction Polis provides the opportunity for introducing a number of innovative design practices including an urban wetland system which will treat up to forty per cent of Adelaide's stormwater.
In the Northern Territory institutional change is facilitating the integration of ESD responsibilities with land use planning. The Northern Territory has developed a series of regional land use plans which provide the basis for urban development and transport planning.
In November 1995 a Commonwealth-Local Government accord was set in place. The accord includes an agreement on urban reform which focuses on improvements to urban design policy, training and practice at the Local Government level and promotes the adoption of AMCORD in one hundred of the fastest growing councils in Australia.
South Australia, has formulated a strategy which will involve competitive tendering for public transport service provision and routes and which aims to promote fairness and promote economic efficiency. South Australia is also looking at a number of schemes to control and reduce city centre traffic including a free public bus transport loop in the city, a reversible road and car pooling.
For public transport the Commonwealth Government is funding an Innovative Public Transport Pilot under Greenhouse 21C which seeks to address some of the issues raised in the AURDR report Timetabling for Tomorrow. Most jurisdictions are working to improve public transport networks. Plans include public transport networks into urban growth areas, new interchanges, improved rail systems, roads which give priority to public transport, the promotion of telecommuting, and the purchase of fuel efficient vehicles. In the Australian Capital Territory recommendations of the Industry Commission inquiry into public transport are being taken up in the use of a 'purchaser/provider' model for its bus service.
By way of contributing to the National Bicycle Strategy, South Australia has the goal of at least doubling bicycle use by the year 2000 through a new comprehensive Cycle Strategy. Tasmania has recently developed a major commuter bicycle link between areas in Hobart.
The NSESD has the objectives of ensuring that tourism strategies are based on ESD principles and that tourism is managed so that operators and visitors adopt appropriate environmental practices. The Strategy is also concerned that appropriate regulatory measures are used to ensure that tourism developments will be ecologically sustainable, and that in order to understand the long term value and effects of tourism, measures are developed for the economic and environmental impacts, including the monitoring of tourism trends.
Tourism is a major industry earning twelve billion dollars in foreign exchange. Since 1993, when the Commonwealth reported on the National Tourism Strategy, Tourism: Australia's Passport to Growth, a major national initiative to develop ecologically sustainable tourism in regional Australia has been the National Ecotourism Strategy which is implemented through the National Ecotourism Program of 1993-94. The Commonwealth has also provided funding for other tourism programs where there is a commitment to the principles and practices of ESD including the Regional Tourism Development Program, the Forest Ecotourism Program and the Sites of National Tourism Significance Program. There are also a number of Commonwealth policies and programs which deal with ESD in tourism as part of their overall approach including the Commonwealth Coastal Policy, activities in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the Daintree Rescue Package and Australian Antarctic policies. The Bureau of Tourism Research and the Cooperative Research Centre for the Ecologically Sustainable Development of the Great Barrier Reef provide a vehicle for understanding more about the environmental and economic impacts of tourism.
In the main, jurisdictions have both tourism and ecotourism strategies although in some cases ecotourism is considered as a component of sustainable tourism, as shown by the following.
New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania reported on regulatory measures to help ensure that tourism development is ecologically sustainable. These include gaining approval by the appropriate development or planning authority, which in South Australia includes ensuring that tourism occurs in the appropriate planning context, and, in New South Wales, ensuring that tourism is given special attention in state of the environment reporting. In New South Wales the management of the Jenolan Caves by the Jenolan Caves Reserve Trust has become a benchmark for best practice in karst tourism. Some jurisdictions reported on studies and market surveys to understand the environmental and economic impacts of tourism: one, from New South Wales, will look at the attitudes of traditional investors to tourism financing and another, from South Australia, will look at the limits to acceptable change on Kangaroo Island.
While the report on implementation of the National Greenhouse Response Strategy (NGRS) contains more details of implementation than the NSESD implementation report, a number of jurisdictions, believing that efficient energy use is closely linked with other mechanisms to implement the NSESD such as cleaner production, urban planning and pricing and taxation, provided implementation information for this review.
The challenge as expressed in the NSESD is to limit emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants without reducing economic efficiency, to improve the availability of alternative energy sources and to improve the technical and economic efficiency of urban and non-urban transport.
Victoria has continued to coordinate and chair the National Working Group overseeing implementation and review of the NGRS.
Jurisdictions reported on a number of relevant and important measures developed since 1993. These measures have developed in the context of microeconomic reform of the electricity and gas (and other) sectors. They include:
Jurisdictions are proceeding with practical measures at the household level to improve energy efficiency. Measures include the Building Energy Code of Australia to be implemented in 1997; the software package Australian Home Greenhouse Scorecard, a joint ANZECC, New South Wales and Victorian project; a national scheme for mandatory energy labelling of major domestic appliances expected to come into effect in 1998; Energy Victoria's coordination of the Galaxy Energy Awards for energy efficient appliances; rebates in Queensland to householders on certain energy and resource efficient items; and experimental homes in South Australia where its Housing Trust is adopting energy conservation principles, where possible. In the Australian Capital Territory there is the Australian Capital Territory House Rating Energy Scheme which is accredited under the National House Energy Rating Scheme. Local government has a number of initiatives for energy efficient housing.
At the industry and business level the Greenhouse Challenge program under Greenhouse 21C aims for government to work cooperatively with industry to achieve significant greenhouse gas reductions. Queensland offers rebates to influence industry to adopt appropriate technologies. In South Australia there are a number of important projects for the cogeneration of electricity and children are being offered the opportunity to understand energy and water management through trials being conducted at their schools.
Efforts to achieve energy efficient transport systems have been referred to under urban and transport planning. Additional to the initiatives mentioned there are plans under Greenhouse 21C to introduce Transport Impact Statements for commercial/industrial and residential infrastructure projects with Commonwealth funding. Environmental impact assessments for infrastructure projects in the transport sector are mandatory under various jurisdictions' legislation. In South Australia there is a project to develop software to assist large fleet operators select the most appropriate engine technology for energy savings following the success in Adelaide of natural gas vehicle buses and the success in Sydney of the same software system where a reduction of twenty per cent in fuel consumption was achieved.
Implementation of objectives in Chapters 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 24 and 32 is summarised in this section. This selection illustrates the diverse range of intersectoral issues covered by the NSESD, the complexity of interrelationships between the sectors and cross-sectors and between the various spheres of government, and the far-reaching implications of the Strategy as a whole. The complete Report on the Implementation of the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (1993 - 1995) covers all cross-sectors.
The objective of the NSESD for biological diversity is to develop effective mechanisms to achieve both the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of biological resources. Mechanisms include the management of threats, improvement in knowledge of biological diversity and promotion of relevant global action.
Australia ratified the international Convention on Biological Diversity in June 1993. Its principle means of implementation is through the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity which has been endorsed by the Commonwealth and all State and Territory Governments which are implementing the following actions.
In accordance with Schedule 9 of the InterGovernmental Agreement on the Environment (IGAE) a draft National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Species and Ecological Communities Threatened with Extinction has been endorsed by all jurisdictions. Since April 1993 the Commonwealth has had in place the Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act 1992 which is providing the umbrella for complementary State and Territory programs. The New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 was passed in December 1995. New South Wales involvement in species recovery planning for rare and endangered species has been strengthened and new mechanisms to protect threatened populations and ecological communities have been introduced. Victoria has developed sixty action statements and six recovery plans. Queensland's Nature Conservation Act 1992 was fully enacted in December 1994 and the Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 1994 provides schedules for the protection of native species and for the prohibition of pest species from overseas. South Australia is addressing threatened species and communities through the recovery plan process. The Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 is consistent with ESD principles and, amongst other things, provides a list of threatened species, recovery and management plans and powers for immediate action. The Australian Capital Territory has proposed a conservation reserve system for its grasslands to provide a habitat for a number of nationally threatened species.
There are already a large number of programs which interact with biodiversity conservation: for instance, the National Landcare Program and the draft National Weeds Strategy (both referred to in Chapter 1), activities under the National Forest Policy Statement (chapter 2) and the establishment of nature reserve systems (Chapter 10) to name a few.
The objectives under the NSESD are to foster a conservation ethic, while ensuring that effective measures are in place for the conservation and management of native vegetation, and to improve the quality of technical advice about conservation of vegetation and revegetation.
At the national level, a number of major programs have been established to protect and regenerate Australia's native vegetation including Save the Bush, >One Billion Trees, National Corridors of Green, and Urban Forests and Grasslands Ecology programs. The programs present a suite of mechanisms and approaches to native vegetation management, ranging from the protection of areas of native vegetation in rural areas, such as the highly threatened native grasslands, through to the establishment of native vegetation in urban areas. Major emphasis is placed on voluntary community involvement in programs.
A number of States have reviewed or taken steps to review their legislation relating to land clearing and ANZECC has resolved to accelerate action on limiting land clearance. An ANZECC Working Group on Nature Conservation on Private Land has been reviewing national, State and Territory programs directed at promoting nature conservation on private land.
Links between employment creation in green industry and programs addressing vegetation and land degradation programs have now been created through the Regional Environment Employment Projects initiative and the Landcare and Environment Action Program. Other national schemes have been initiated to encourage group, farm-based and regional approaches to conserving native vegetation. These include initiatives under Greenhouse 21C Plan of Action, Coastcare and the National Biodiversity Program. The draft National Weeds Strategy and the draft National Strategy for Rangelands Management have been further developed in consultation with the community.
As well as giving effect to approaches based on national schemes, jurisdictions have developed their own programs, for instance:
A number of programs have been developed to assess the rate of vegetation clearance. The Commonwealth Government published reports on the rate of vegetation clearance and land cover disturbance across Australia. The Commonwealth, States and Territories have cooperated on developing a database on land clearing in Australia, using satellite monitoring data. Queensland and Western Australia are undertaking pilot projects to monitor vegetation for strategic drought alert systems. Other individual projects include GIS based tree cover maps in Victoria and the development of databases on remnant cover in Tasmania.
In the NSESD the challenge is to ensure that land use decision making processes and land use allocations in all spheres of government meet the overall goal of ESD and to ensure that these are based on a consideration of all land values, uses and flow-on effects, while avoiding fragmentation, duplication, conflict and unnecessary delays. In the NSESD context, work on urban and transport planning and on environment impact assessment is also relevant. Schedule 2 of the IGAE is relevant as, under the NSESD, it is expected to provide the mechanism to achieve clarity, certainty and accountability in the processes used to clarify access to land and determine change of use.
Programs at the National and Commonwealth level and in cooperation with relevant jurisdictions include: the National Forest Policy, the Coastal Action Program, the Cape York Peninsula Land Use Strategy (CYPLUS) which has moved from its first stage, data collection, to the second stage which will focus on developing approaches to land use decision making including conflict resolution and the National Heritage Coordination Program which, in response to NSESD objectives, includes investigation into accreditation and streamlining of heritage assessments.
New South Wales makes the link between total catchment management (TCM) and planning in its guidelines, TCM and Planning - a Partnership, for planning projects in major catchment areas. New South Wales also has planning strategies for subregions and corridors between regions, and applies SEPPs to koala habitat, coastal wetlands and urban bushland and regional environment plans for the protection of built environments such as the historic islands in Sydney Harbour.
Victoria has in place a strategic planning and management framework for public land which incorporates ESD principles and is to develop a policy framework incorporating ESD principles for strategic private land use planning in the near future. Victoria has an environmental impacts assessment process for certain land use planning decisions and other initiatives to place activities in a total planning context. This includes changes to legislation for the extractive industry and mining to integrate assessments of proposals into the planning system and preparation of land use strategies.
Queensland has prepared a draft Planning, Environment and Development Assessment Bill which aims to put development and environment impact assessment in a total planning context. As noted earlier the Bill takes account of the objectives of the NSESD.
South Australia's Development Act 1993, which incorporates ESD principles, is specifically designed to achieve closer integration of planning by State and Local Governments and the community. The Act also provides for consideration of ESD in Plan Amendment Reports and for its expression in planning related activities, including Council Development Plans.
A package of resource management and planning legislation is now in force in Tasmania. Its objectives are very much in line with those of the NSESD and aim to provide for ecologically sustainable use of natural resources, public involvement, economic development in an ESD context and the sharing of responsibilities for resource management and planning amongst all stakeholders. Tasmania seeks to manage its catchments and its coasts to complement this package of measures.
The importance of involving Local Government and the community in decision making on land use planning to achieve ESD outcomes is well recognised by jurisdictions such as Queensland and South Australia and in cooperative programs such as CYPLUS.
Schedule 2 of the IGAE is on resource assessment, land use decisions and approval processes and sets out roles for all spheres of government. During the 1995 review of the IGAE, ICESD recommended that COAG, amongst other things, acknowledge that progress towards accreditation of decision making processes, as envisaged by the body of the IGAE, has not proceeded in the manner expected by most of the parties. Since then ICESD has prepared a paper exploring the practical problems with progressing accreditation, proposing means to resolve them and agreed to prepare a practical guide establishing procedures for accommodating the interests of governments in environmental issues.
The objectives of the NSESD with respect to environmental impact assessment (EIA) are about improving clarity, community access, accountability, consistency across jurisdictions and avoidance of unnecessary duplication and ensuring that the guiding principles of ESD are incorporated into EIA. The NSESD also seeks to ensure that the EIA process is sensitive to cumulative and regional impacts.
With the endorsement of ANZECC's Guidelines for Determining the Need for and Level of Environmental Impact Assessment in Australia it is hoped that there will be greater consistency in Australia in the application of the EIA process as well as improved transparency, accountability and certainty. The objectives of the draft ANZECC National Agreement on EIA are to improve effectiveness, efficiency and coordination of the EIA process where different jurisdictions are involved. In principle it provides a mechanism for implementing Schedule 3 of the IGAE. The draft agreement awaits final endorsement by ANZECC before being referred to the COAG.
The Commonwealth has been conducting a comprehensive public review of the Commonwealth EIA process. Reform options were released for public comment in December 1994. Key stakeholders support changes to administrative procedures to improve the clarity and certainty of the process, avoid duplication through accreditation of other processes, and improve public participation and accountability, as a first response to the review. The proposed changes incorporate the principles and objectives of ESD where possible.
In New South Wales, in the last two years there have been initiatives to improve the effectiveness of EIA, to integrate the principles of ESD into assessment processes, to ensure that there is independent assessment of all major developments, to amend EIA procedures to include the need to justify projects in terms of ESD principles and to produce guidelines on ESD in EIA to assist proponents and decision makers. New South Wales is also embarking on a number of practical assessments of cumulative impacts.
Victoria amended its guidelines for EIA in April 1995 to incorporate the principles of the IGAE on impact assessment and ANZECC national approaches. There is a Victorian Consultative Committee to give opportunities for community consultation, information sharing and the development of guidelines for specific proposals. Provision is made where appropriate to add environmental information to regional databases.
Queensland is in the process of introducing a consistent and understandable impact assessment process which involves development and community interests and simple, efficient, timely and credible administrative arrangements. The commitments will be implemented through the PEDA legislation (referred to in the urban planning section) and amendments to other relevant legislation by: incorporating integrated development assessment system (IDAS) principles into all relevant State legislation; having State-level impact assessments for major projects; and having clear criteria for when State level processes will be triggered. To look at social issues surrounding EIA processes, Queensland has established a Social Impact Assessment Unit.
In South Australia EIA is carried out under the Development Act 1993 and criteria for EIA set out in this Act are based on ANZECC specifications. In general EIA is expected to address social, economic and environmental aspects of a proposal. Under this Act some proposals are assessed through other mechanisms including environment protection, mining or petroleum legislation. South Australia has also introduced post EIA requirements such as monitoring, auditing and environmental management plans which may include codes of practice.
In Tasmania EIA is carried out under the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 which incorporates sustainable development objectives. The agency administering EIA is developing a holistic approach consistent with ESD principles and legislative requirements. Monitoring to audit sustainability is a feature of many environment management plans required by the legislation.
The NSESD requires that appropriate institutional arrangements are established for the inclusion of ESD principles in policy formulation and policy making processes. It seeks to establish these arrangements in the context of Cabinet processes; guidance to government through the incorporation of ESD principles in legislation, corporate plans and in reporting requirements; clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of different spheres of government in order to improve ESD related policy formulation and delivery; and government purchasing.
Three jurisdictions have acted to ensure that there are changes to Cabinet or pre-Cabinet processes to facilitate the inclusion of ESD principles in decision making. Institutional arrangements in some government agencies have been altered to reflect the requirement to integrate social, environmental and economic considerations in decision making. A number of jurisdictions have adopted ESD principles in their purchasing policies.
Cooperation between different spheres of government is assisted by IGAE; the December 1992 COAG protocols for the liaison between Ministerial Councils on matters of mutual concern; the activities of ICESD with respect to the NSESD, the NGRS, the IGAE and other relevant matters; the establishment of the NEPC in September 1995; and, within South Australia, cooperation between resource agencies under the auspices of the Natural Resources Council and cooperative activities on Local Agenda 21.
Since 1992 ESD objectives have increasingly been incorporated in legislation. Examples include:
The NSESD requires the development of water management policies which take an integrated approach to development and management of water resources, and that the most effective mix of water resource management mechanisms should be developed and implemented.
Progress has been made since 1993 by the Commonwealth and States working together to improve the management of the nation's limited water resources and to strike a better balance between the consumptive and environmental requirements of Australia's river systems. A vital element of this process is the 1994 COAG water reform framework which contains a comprehensive package of reforms to encourage water to be properly valued and used in the most sustainable manner. Amongst the elements of the framework is the recognition that the environment is a legitimate user of water. ARMCANZ and ANZECC, which are the Ministerial Councils implementing the reforms, are further developing elements of the reforms including water allocation entitlements, principles for the provision of water for the environment, and asset valuation and cost recovery definitions. The reform framework is complemented by the National Water Quality Management Strategy and supported at a practical level by the Rural Partnership and National Landcare Programs and the Murray-Darling initiative.
There are a number of other initiatives, involving collaboration between spheres of government, taking an integrated approach to water resource management, including for instance, the proposed National Wetlands Policy, the Wild Rivers project, the National River Health Program, Water Watch and water quality management programs.
Some jurisdictions are already responding to the COAG reform package. In New South Wales this is through developing a mix of water management mechanisms including setting water quality objectives, environmental flow allocations and water pricing reforms and through looking at new economic instruments such as a bubble licence scheme. In Victoria there are water markets to facilitate the transfer of water from low to high value uses, tariff reform programs, a Bulk Water Entitlement Program establishing property rights to water and an improved and simplified regulatory framework. South Australia has prepared a State Water Plan 1995 which enunciates new policy directions consistent with the COAG water reform agenda including pricing, community involvement, water for the environment and reuse of stormwater and waste waters. The new directions are being incorporated into legislation through a comprehensive review of the Water Resources Act 1990. South Australia has also developed a statewide water allocation policy, ESD based water sharing arrangements in some areas, and is reviewing the pricing structure for River Murray water in response to COAG and Murray-Darling Basin reforms.
The need for good data to underline the development of good water resource management strategies is well recognised. A comprehensive audit of water resources in the Murray-Darling Basin has been completed and will underlie work to strike a balance between consumptive and environmental requirements of the system. An interim cap on diversions has been imposed while long term capping arrangements are being developed by June 1997. Through the other initiatives, work is being done to collect data, to audit water resources, to assess groundwater and to map special regions in order to establish baseline information of various kinds. For instance, in collaboration with States and Territories, the Bureau of Meteorology has identified a set of benchmark river catchments to provide a baseline of data to investigate the impact of climate variability on water resources. Queensland has undertaken 'State of the Rivers' surveys in eight catchments, Victoria has an Index of River Condition, South Australia has looked at the impact of stream regulation in the Mount Lofty Ranges with a view to establishing environmental allocations, and the Australian Capital Territory is, amongst other things, providing ongoing baseline monitoring of physical, chemical and biological variables, monitoring stream flow to provide flood studies data, and modelling catchments.
Most jurisdictions use a whole catchment approach to the coordination and integration of land and water management and their commitment is evident in legislative and management structures which are either already in place or nearing completion. In addition jurisdictions are adopting ecologically sustainable management practices for water resources as follows.
Objectives of the Strategy for pricing and taxation are the development, or enhancement of pricing and economic instruments for natural resource management in Australia and the requirement that adequate attention be directed to taking into account social and environmental costs when assessing the use of these instruments.
Taking the second objective first, work is being done by the Commonwealth and South Australia on natural resource accounting. The Commonwealth has been working on a set of principles for the application of user charging in environment-related areas which amongst other things take into account social and equity considerations. The work so far indicates that pricing reforms have yet to take account of the social and environmental costs of resource use.
In Chapter 20, with the exception of discussion on the New South Wales Pricing Tribunal, jurisdictions reported on particular and practical instances of economic instruments. Chapter 21 of the implementation report (not discussed here) is concerned with the broad policy framework for microeconomic reform. Chapter 21 notes that microeconomic reform, when accompanied by full social cost pricing, can contribute to the ecologically sustainable use of scarce natural resources.
The operation of the New South Wales Government Pricing Tribunal which was established in 1992 to set prices for government monopoly services is of particular interest. The Tribunal is required under its Act to take into account matters including protection of the environment through appropriate pricing policies, and the protection of consumers from abuses of monopoly power. So with respect to water industry reform the tribunal is promoting volume related charges to reflect the cost of supply and to encourage water conservation, and is encouraging water authorities to undertake water demand management measures. With respect to public transport the tribunal has limited increases to prices and sought to encourage fare reform to maximise access to public transport. The tribunal is also initiating an enquiry into pricing policies on waste disposal. Tasmania has established the Government Prices Oversight Commission which is due to commence on 1 January 1996.
A number of governments are introducing waste disposal fees and emissions discharge licences to reflect the costs associated with wastes. While following the National Forest Policy Statement, government agencies are moving towards greater cost recovery for the use of native forests. New South Wales and Victoria are putting in place load and risk based licensing schemes for pollutants emitted to the environment.
Other examples of the use of pricing instruments from jurisdictions include: fuel levies which have been introduced by the Commonwealth and South Australia to discourage the use of leaded petroleum products; the use of salinity credits within the Murray-Darling Basin to achieve better decisions on water management, a pilot tradable salinity credits scheme in New South Wales for controlling saline wastewater discharges from coal mines and power stations on the Hunter River; and bubble licences in New South Wales to assist in reducing nutrient loads in the Hawkesbury-Nepean river system. New South Wales is also researching the possibility of implementing non-point source trading schemes for phosphorus discharges. In order to address emerging problems facing lending institutions, Victoria has amended its Environment Protection Act 1970 to limit liability to lending institutions and to put in place a system of financial assurances to ensure that firms maintain adequate financial provisions for clean-up of sites. Victoria is also looking at the potential of tradable permits for some types of environment protection.
The NSESD requires Governments to put effective mechanisms in place to represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' land, heritage, economic and cultural development concerns in the resource allocation process and to strengthen their active participation in the formulation of the ESD-related policies and programs.
In November 1994 the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission adopted an Environment Policy, the key features of which were the equitable participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in environment policy development at all levels of government and the right to share in Australia's land, wealth and resources, with full recognition of their indigenous cultural heritage.
Programs which seek to address indigenous concerns in relation to land, heritage, economic and cultural development include the Commonwealth Indigenous Protected Areas Initiative, Land Acquisition and Maintenance, and Heritage Protection programs; the Victorian Aboriginal Capital Projects and Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Programs; and the South Australian Aboriginal Tourism Strategy. Governments participate in Aboriginal employment programs and a number have programs which involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the management of national parks and have legislation to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage.
Initiatives to encourage the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in ESD activities include the CYPLUS, development of a draft National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism Strategy and an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Fisheries Strategy. The need for consultation and involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations in policy and program development is promoted in various ways by Australian governments including through the New South Wales Cabinet Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, consultative committees and working groups.
Despite these activities however, the implementation report indicates that there needs to be improved processes for including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and their knowledge, innovations and practices, in the implementation of ecologically sustainable development and in particular, as they relate to biological diversity.
The NSESD objectives for gender issues are to inform the community and government of contributions women are making to ESD while also providing information and access for women to decision making processes; and to assess the gender implications of ESD-related initiatives in all sectors of the economy.
The implementation report indicates that the most significant area of involvement of women in ESD related issues is by rural and regional women who have played a major role in encouraging the long term sustainability of agriculture through, amongst other things, their work on farms, in Landcare and in their participation on rural boards. Women are also being encouraged to participate in rural decision making through non-gender based initiatives such as the national Rural Partnership and Rural Communities Access Programs; the Victorian Farm$mart program, which aims for at least fifty per cent participation by women; and the South Australian Rural Network. Some rural programs are directed more specifically at women, such as the creation:
Since 1993 there have been a number of conferences which reflect rural women's desire to include ESD in their vision of agriculture. These include the international conference, Women in Agriculture: Farming for our Future, hosted by Australia and, in June 1995, the first National Rural Women's Forum. Australian rural women also participated in a preparatory session for the Beijing Women's Conference, Women in Agriculture and their Participation in the Development of Agricultural Technologies.
Women have drawn attention to their interest in the environment and role in environmental decision making at the Women and Environment Conference of March 1995 and through the Commonwealth's The New National Agenda for Women 1993-2000.
Some jurisdictions have set in place measures to ensure women's participation on decision making bodies. These include the Commonwealth Office of the Status of Women which administers the Register of Women, a database of potential women candidates for appointment to boards; New South Wales which has established a Public Employment Office Register and a New South Wales Women's Register to assist women achieve at least fifty per cent representation on boards; Queensland, which in July 1995 announced its Equal Opportunity Targets for Women on Government Boards and in Management Positions in the Public Sector; and South Australia which has a Breakthrough Register which is a list of skilled women for committees and boards. South Australia's Equal Opportunity Commission has undertaken the Women on Board project to promote greater participation by women in decision making especially in the country.
In recognition of the importance of women in decision making, some jurisdictions have made institutional changes, for example, the establishment by the Commonwealth Department of Primary Industries and Energy of a Rural Women's Unit to improve access of rural women to government programs and decision making; the creation by New South Wales of the Department of Women to 'mainstream' women's issues to all government agencies and of a New South Wales Premier's Council for Women; and the establishment by South Australia of a Women's Advisory Council to provide advice on issues related to women in South Australia.
The principles of ESD and other relevant principles such as gender equity have been incorporated as cross curriculum perspectives in the national curriculum frameworks for Australian schools.
The objective of the NSESD on public health is to develop effective options for predicting, preventing, controlling and communicating the health implications of ESD-related decisions.
Australia's first National Public Health Policy was endorsed by Health Ministers in September 1994 and in late 1995 the Commonwealth commenced work to develop a National Public Health Policy and Action Plan for Australia. A national framework for environmental and health impact assessment has been widely circulated. In New South Wales its Metropolitan Strategy has put forward an ecologically sustainable greater Sydney metropolitan region based on integrated urban management blending economic, environmental and social policy initiatives and will include a public health perspective. In South Australia, the Public and Environmental Health Service has actively promoted the physical and social health of the community by assessing public health information, and providing advice and guidelines to cover urban and rural areas including aboriginal communities. A highlight of current work being done on public health is Tasmania's review of its public health legislation which includes, amongst other things, health impact assessment under the umbrella of its Environment Management and Pollution Control Act 1994. Local Government has prepared a Public and Environmental Health Management Plans Manual which has been well received.
The National Lead Abatement Strategy was an effective program conducted during 1993-94 and 1994-95 centring around the public health benefits which derive from a reduction of lead used in petrol. Public health issues which have been, or are being addressed through guidelines, taskforce activities and other strategies include: health risk assessment and management of contaminated sites; health effects of blue-green algae; toxicological and public health reviews of certain chemicals; ambient air quality requirements for ozone and sulphur dioxide; studies on metropolitan air quality; requirements for drinking water and reclaimed water; standards for reuse of waste water; requirements for the use and disposal of sewage sludge and sewage effluent; occupational health and safety in the field of hazardous materials; standards for septic tanks; assessment of stormwater impact on recreational waters; lead mitigation; and public health requirements for food, nutrition and public fitness.
For education and training the objectives of the NSESD are to incorporate ESD principles and approaches into curriculum, assessment and teaching programs of schools and higher education, and to incorporate ESD principles, and practical skills for achieving ESD, in vocational education and training programs.
Since 1993 jurisdictions have responded very effectively to the challenges of the NSESD for education and training.
The Commonwealth, in collaboration with the States and Territories, has established cooperative partnerships to work towards the 'Ten Common and Agreed National Goals for Schooling in Australia' and the incorporation of ESD principles in the national curriculum frameworks. First editions of the national curriculum framework, also known as the Australian curriculum statements and profiles, in eight key learning areas were published for use by schools and school systems in 1994 and incorporate ESD cross curriculum perspectives. New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia report that they are implementing the national curriculum framework and agreed national goals and are devising ways to encourage teachers to introduce the principles and issues of the NSESD in practical ways in their teaching.
Amongst the programs designed to enhance the professional development of teachers in Australian schools and also to stimulate environmental awareness amongst teachers and students are the Commonwealth's National Professional Development Program (NPDP) and the Projects of National Significance Program. In South Australia there are a number of in-service programs funded under the NPDP program and these are accredited as part of the Graduate Certificate of Education. New South Wales is reviewing pre-service and in-service teacher education and training in environmental education.
There are a number of particular environment programs at the national level and within jurisdictions. These include the Commonwealth 'Enviroquest', an interactive computer game to increase awareness and interest in environmental issues in schools, the Commonwealth funded 'Green Technology Quests' at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), and second year open learning course called 'Atmosphere and Global Challenge' at Monash University, the Victorian and Murray Darling Basin Commission secondary school curriculum materials on 'Sustainable Agriculture'. Some of these programs involve extension activities with associations and schools, for instance in Victoria with the Gould League, the Museum of Victoria, the Zoo Extension Service and the Forest Discovery Centre and in South Australia with the Kids for Landcare Outdoor Classroom. South Australia is applying resources to explore strategies for achieving ESD in schools through environmental management planning.
The incorporation of ESD principles into national vocational education and training curriculum is being addressed through the various Industry Competency Standards. These include generic occupational health and safety competencies developed by Worksafe Australia.
Jurisdictions report on a number of traineeships and vocational training programs which include ESD principles. These include traineeships by the Nettforce Industry Training Company on, for example, renewable energies, Australian land conservation, national rural skills; the New South Wales Environmental Awareness Statement of Attainment and the Environmental Practice Certificates II and III, and the New South Wales State Training Profiles; the Victorian curriculum for Landcare and Environment Action Program and numerous courses, for example, on farm chemical use, land layout for flood irrigation; and South Australian curriculum areas such as Environment Management and Land Management/Conservation.
The objectives of the NSESD are: to develop a high level of community awareness and understanding of the goals, objectives and principles of the Strategy; to promote open and effective communication on ESD matters; and to ensure timely and informed contributions from stakeholders to the implementation of initiatives outlined in the strategy and for its further development.
The implementation report points to a number of institutional mechanisms to help develop community awareness, for example the creation of a Public Affairs Branch in the Commonwealth Environment Portfolio, the development of the National Pollutant Inventory and the creation of the South Australian Natural Resource Council. A number of environment and resource agencies give a high priority to education and information programs and have developed strategies to target particular audiences through a variety of media including videos, internet forums and education programs and networks. Some jurisdictions are providing training in communication, consultation and group facilitation skills.
The Ministerial level ESD Roundtable of peak community representatives on ESD issues which met in 1994 and the joint meeting of ICESD with non-government organisations (NGOs) in March 1995 have been the formal mechanisms to promote open and effective communication on issues of direct concern to the NSESD. Another related formal mechanism is the six monthly Commonwealth -NGO Consultative Forum on international environment issues. Since 1993 New South Wales has continued to conduct environment protection community forums, and in April 1994 conducted a workshop with peak industry and environmental groups to examine ways to improve public participation in environmental-decision making.
Formal consultation is built into a number of government programs. Legislation ensures consultation for work done by the NEPC, and consultation on environment impact assessment. Communication with the community lies at the heart of the National Pollutant Inventory both in its present development stage and as part of its purpose. The importance of community communication underlies the Commonwealth Education and Information Grants Scheme; the New South Wales survey - Who Cares about the Environment? - to develop a benchmark assessment to track changes in attitudes to environmental protection; the preparation in South Australian of its State Water Plan; and the Australian Capital Territory environmental grants program.
Communication is promoted through databases accessible on the internet, through setting up advisory groups on specific issues and through extensive consultation in the development of policies and strategies. For particular issues jurisdictions conduct campaigns to promote community action and New South Wales has done some research into the effectiveness of these campaigns in influencing community behaviour. Victoria's Waterwatch Program has involved three hundred local communities in water quality monitoring.
For a number of issues high priority has been placed on promoting public consultation and participation to ensure timely and informed debate. Initiatives in this area include conducting public reviews (the development of the draft National Rangelands Management Strategy), information seminars and workshops, organising conferences, developing programs designed for community participation ( Landcare, Coastcare, Fishcare, Waterwatch), developing community networks, publishing the results of studies, educating user groups, having special events such as the New South Wales National Parks Awareness Week and through eco-tourism programs.
The Intergovernmental Committee for Ecologically Sustainable Development (ICESD), was formed through a combination of the previously separate Ecologically Sustainable Development and National Greenhouse Steering Committees. Agreement to this rationalisation was obtained through an exchange of correspondence between Heads of Government between mid 1993 and early 1994. ICESD held its first meeting in March 1994.
ICESD constitutes the primary forum for reporting to Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on intergovernmental consideration of environmental and natural resource issues, both domestic and international, which require a whole of government perspective. COAG may specifically direct ICESD to undertake tasks. ICESD is specifically responsible for overseeing the implementation and review of the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment (IGAE), the National Greenhouse Response Strategy and the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development.
COAG comprises Heads of Government from the Commonwealth, States and Territories and the President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) and meets at least once a year.
ICESD's terms of reference require it, when determining the issues upon which it works, to recognise the role of existing forums such as Ministerial Councils. Those Ministerial Councils with which ICESD shares a working interest include:
ICESD may also liaise with the Joint ANZECC/MCFFA National Forest Policy Statement Implementation Sub-Committee (JANIS) as necessary.
These Ministerial Councils comprise the relevant portfolio Minister from the Commonwealth, each State and Territory and New Zealand where relevant. Ministerial Councils are normally supported by Standing Committees of officials with which ICESD may liaise as required.
ICESD may create its own sub-committees as required to progress work on issues pertinent to its terms of reference (the Intergovernmental Greenhouse Working Group and the IGAE Accreditation Working Group are examples of such sub-committees). ICESD also consults with climate change advisory bodies such as the National Greenhouse Advisory Panel (NGAP), which is a community representative advisory body established under the National Greenhouse Response Strategy. A representative of ICESD attends NGAP meetings and the Chair of the NGAP is invited to attend ICESD meetings for discussion of greenhouse-related matters.
Consultations between non-government organisations (NGOs) and ICESD take place through two mechanisms. The first is the biennial Ministerial-level intergovernmental ecologically sustainable development (ESD) roundtable conferences, at which government, industry, environment and community representatives meet to discuss ESD and greenhouse issues. The second mechanism is the ICESD-NGO annual consultative meetings which were initiated following the July 1994 ESD Roundtable Conference to give NGOs an opportunity for greater input into the ESD policy process.
Each of the jurisdictions participating on ICESD utilises its own intra-jurisdictional consultative mechanisms to enable them to present whole-of-government positions particular to those jurisdictions represented on ICESD.
|ALGA||Australian Local Government Association|
|AMCORD||Australian Model Code on Residential Development|
|ANZECC||Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council|
|ANZMEC||Australia and New Zealand Minerals and Energy Council|
|ARMCANZ||Agricultural and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand|
|AURDR||Australian Urban and Regional Development Review|
|COAG||Council of Australian Governments|
|CRC||cooperative research centre|
|CYPLUS||Cape York Peninsula Land Use Study|
|DFA||deferred forest assessment|
|EIA||environmental impact assessment|
|ESD||ecologically sustainable development|
|GIS||geographic information systems|
|ICESD||Intergovernmental Committee on Ecollogically Sustainable Development|
|IDAS||integrated development assessment system|
|IGAE||Inter-Governmental Agreement on Environment|
|ISO||International Standards Organisation|
|NEPC||National Environment Protection Council|
|NGAP||National Greenhouse Advisory Panel|
|NGRS||National Greenhouse Response Strategy|
|NICP||City of Noarlunga Industrial Chemicals Project|
|NPDP||National Professional Development Program|
|NSESD||National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development|
|MCFFA||Ministerial Council on Forestry, Fisheries and Aquaculture|
|OHS||occupational health and safety|
|QEP||Queensland Ecotourism Plan|
|QTS||Queensland Tourism Strategy|
|RFA||regional forest agreement|
|RMIT||Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology|
|SEPP||State environment planning policies|
|TCM||total catchment management|