National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development

Prepared by the Ecologically Sustainable Development Steering Committee
Endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments
December, 1992
ISBN 0 644 27253 8

Changes to Government Institutions and Machinery
Part 3 Intersectoral Issues - Chapter 16


To establish appropriate institutional arrangements for the inclusion of ESD principles in policy formulation and policy making processes

Strategic Approach

Mechanisms to achieve this will need to include the strengthening of Cabinet processes for integrating policy decision making including assessment of the ESD implications of decisions; incorporation of ESD principles in existing institutional arrangements across all spheres of government; and better intragovernmental and intergovernmental integration of policy formulations and decision making. Jurisdictions will need to recognise the regional and local dimensions of their policy formulation and ensure appropriate community consultation mechanisms are established.

Objective 16.1

  • to ensure Cabinet processes facilitate the integration of economic, environmental and social considerations into decision making

Governments will:

  • examine current Cabinet processes, and where necessary, make institutional changes such as establishment by the Commonwealth and New South Wales of Sustainable Development Committees of Cabinet
  • work towards ensuring all Cabinet documents address the relevant ESD implications of the recommendations and conclusions, including economic, environmental and social impacts. At the Commonwealth level, this will be articulated in the next edition of the Cabinet Handbook

Objective 16.2

  • to incorporate ESD principles as a fundamental objective of relevant government authorities involved in economic, environmental and social decision making

Governments will:

  • undertake a systematic program of review to identify relevant agencies and ensure that ESD principles are incorporated into their charters and corporate plans
  • at the Commonwealth level, include a requirement in the next edition of the Commonwealth Government's annual reporting guidelines, that all departments and agencies report on the extent to which their actions have met ESD guidelines and organisations have integrated economic, social and environmental considerations into their charters and corporate plans
  • in New South Wales, establish as part of its reform of the legislative process, a system of statements for legislation on its financial, social and environmental impact
  • incorporate ESD principles into the objectives of relevant legislation as appropriate, particularly for legislation concerning natural resource use and management

Objective 16.3

  • to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the development, implementation and integration of ESD-related policies, clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each level of government , avoid duplication of functions and establish effective processes for cooperation between governments

Governments will:

  • maintain their commitment to cooperating on implementation of the IGAE
  • seek to use the opportunities provided by the Council of Australian Governments' annual meetings to consider ESD issues
  • work towards development of more effective coordination arrangements between Ministerial Councils, including through the development of protocols for the operation of Ministerial Councils
  • facilitate action by local municipalities and communities to develop local strategies for ESD, based on community input and participation
  • examine mechanisms for improving consultative or joint working group arrangements with the community and between those councils with an interest in, or responsibility for, ESD issues
  • continue to work at the officer level to improve coordination mechanism for consideration of ESD issues and implementation of the IGAE and this Package
  • at the broader level, examine the roles and responsibilities of departments and agencies to determine the most effective and efficient machinery of government arrangements for integration of ESD into government decision making and policy formulation processes
  • examine the feasibility of integrating non-legal conflict resolution mechanisms in sympathy with ESD principles into decision-making systems

Objective 16.4

  • to improve the level of consideration given to ESD principles in government purchasing policies and practices

Governments will:

  • incorporate ESD principles into procurement decision making in a manner consistent with:
    • minimising the adverse environmental impact of government purchases;
    • increasing the capability to ascertain the environmental impacts of products; and
    • enhancing the development or redesign of Australian manufactured products to meet internationally competitive performance criteria
  • at the Commonwealth level, seek a consistent approach by government departments and agencies to the incorporation of ESD concerns into their purchasing activities by encouraging them to draw on the principles and approach outlined in the Better Buying: Better World Strategy. These are a commitment to purchase goods and services with the most beneficial environmental impact; cooperation with suppliers to encourage continuous improvement in the environmental impact of their goods and services; and use of information and common standards and methods to assess environmental impact as, and when, they are available.