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Senator Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment
Australia has played a leading role in the drive to ensure that environmental concerns are a key consideration in APEC’s efforts to promote economic growth.
Federal Environment minister Robert Hill says there will now be a strong environmental emphasis within APEC.
The APEC Ministerial Meeting on Sustainable Development in Manila has released a Ministerial Declaration and Action Program on three key sustainable development themes:
Central to the Declaration is the concept that all APEC working groups should be considering the impact of their work in terms of sustainable development and effects on the environment.
Senator Hill says Australia gave strong support to the push and was also able to inject a process of accountability.
"We agreed with the principle that there should not be a new working group set up within APEC to look specifically at sustainable development.
"We argued that sustainable development and environmental concerns should be interwoven into the work of the existing working groups so that they become part of the fibre of APEC.
"Having argued that though, we still needed to be assured that environmental concerns would not become sidelined within the existing groups.
"What Australia was able to propose was an on-going process of accountability where the APEC Sustainable Development Ministers could assess and appraise whether environmental concerns were being given the appropriate consideration by the existing working groups.
"The value of this process is that it will allow Ministers to monitor how effectively the work program they have endorsed is being implemented across APEC".
Senator Hill says Canada, which will host next year’s APEC Leaders’ Meeting, has already signalled a strong emphasis on the environment and sustainable development.
Canada will host a further meeting of Sustainable Development Ministers in the lead-up to the APEC Leaders’ Meeting to give progress report on how successfully APEC working groups are handling their environmental responsibilities.
Senator Hill has also used the Manila meeting to hold a series of bilateral talks with Sustainable Development Ministers from Canada, the US, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines.
A key focus of these talks was to promote, particularly to the Asian nations, the qualifications and abilities of Australia’s environment technology industry.
"Australia has built up a wealth of expertise in the environment management field. There is great potential within such a rapidly expanding region to both share and market that expertise."
For copies of the Ministerial Declaration and Action plan contact 06 277 7640.
For further comment contact Matt Brown on 0011 632 815 9711 (Room 822)