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Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade :: 2001-2002 Annual Report
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Appendix 9
Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance

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The department, in pursuing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally, seeks to the extent possible to ensure that its policy activities and other operations accord with and contribute to the principles of ecologically sustainable development, and are shaped and implemented with appropriate reference to environmental impact.

Policy and related activities

The department worked to develop new international legal instruments with sustainable development objectives; implement existing relevant legal instruments; and manage involvement in relevant programs and activities of the UN system, including the UN Environment Program and the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. In 2001-02 we were also actively involved in preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

We worked to ensure that multilateral trade negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO) enhanced the mutual supportiveness of trade and environment, including through: encouraging recognition of the benefits for sustainable development of further liberalisation of trade in agriculture; participation in negotiations on the relationship between existing WTO rules and specific trade obligations set out in multilateral environment agreements (MEAs); participation in negotiations on procedures for regular information exchange between MEA secretariats and relevant WTO committees; as well as negotiations for the reduction or, as appropriate, elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services. We were also actively involved in trade and environment deliberations in the OECD and APEC.

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The department contributed to the effective conservation and management of fisheries resources, including by advocating--within the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, and bilaterally--the development of appropriate international measures against illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. In 2001-02, we also participated in the Preparatory Commission for the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and in negotiations towards a South-West Indian Ocean fisheries treaty--both of which aim to create sound frameworks for the conservation and management of fish species in which Australia has interests. We participated in negotiations to clarify and improve WTO disciplines on fisheries subsidies, taking into account the importance of the sector to developing countries.

See sub-output 1.1.7, particularly with respect to the environment and marine resources and Antarctic issues, for further detail on our policy activities relating to ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance.

The department's Direct Aid Program (DAP) is aimed primarily at supporting small-scale development projects and activities that are participatory in nature, and directly involve beneficiaries in project identification, design and management. In 2001-02, several posts used DAP funds to support activities with an environmental focus. Our embassy in the Philippines provided assistance in developing irrigation methods for sustainable farming in Mindanao; the embassy in Venezuela funded a project to train community members in habitat protection with a view to protecting the water supply; and our embassy in China partly funded a project in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region that helped to raise environmental awareness at a local school through education campaigns and provision of vegetable and flower plots.

See sub-output 1.1.6 for more information on DAP, including projects with an environmental focus.

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Domestic property management

In accordance with a government decision taken in May 2001, the department began developing an Environmental Management System (EMS) covering our offices in Australia. The EMS provides a framework to improve operating efficiencies and identify and improve our environmental performance. We are also working to achieve accreditation of the R G Casey Building under ISO14001 by the end of 2003.

The department continued to support Australian Greenhouse Office-led negotiations with energy suppliers for a whole-of-government electricity supply contract for the Australian Capital Territory that incorporates energy generated from renewable sources (Greenpower). In the most recent energy auction, held on 22 May 2002, we supported the option of an electricity contract for the next three years with a 10 per cent green energy requirement.

We also worked closely with the Australian Greenhouse Office to identify further mechanisms for energy conservation in the R G Casey Building.

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International property management

The department conducts its overseas property management and design engagements in accordance with the requirements of the Commonwealth's Procurement Guidelines. As part of the tender submission for Commonwealth projects overseas, consultants are required to provide draft environmental management and waste management plans to enable evaluation panels to assess their management of environmental issues.

Following engagement, project designers are required to prepare a concept design report dealing with issues such as ecologically sustainable development and the life cycle costings of proposed options. This report also considers issues such as the appropriate selection of materials and the setting of energy use targets that are then modelled to confirm that the design meets the targets. The department aims to achieve environmental best practice in all projects regardless of location or local regulatory requirements.

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