Annual Report 2008-2009

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Appendix 8

Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance

This appendix comprises the department’s report on its ecologically sustainable development (ESD) and environmental performance as required by section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

How the activities of the department, and the administration of legislation by the department, accorded with the ESD principles

The department has sought to ensure that, where possible, its policy activities and other operations have accorded with and enacted ESD principles. It has pursued these principles through a variety of activities including its work on multilateral environment agreements, international legal frameworks and trade policy. These principles were also applied in the provision of development assistance (see Volume 2) and in the department’s public diplomacy.

How the department’s outcomes contributed to ESD

Outcome 1 – Australia’s national interests protected and advanced through contributions to international security, national economic and trade performance and global cooperation

The department contributed to ESD through participation in international negotiations across a range of policy areas related to the environment and sustainable development.

Outcome 2 – Australians informed about and provided access to consular and passport services in Australia and overseas

The N Series Passport, launched in May 2009, uses Australian Paper’s 100 percent carbon neutral ENVI paper range, which is Greenhouse Friendly as certified by the Department of Climate Change.

Outcome 3 – Public understanding in Australia and overseas of Australia’s foreign and trade policy and a positive image of Australia internationally

The department’s Direct Aid Program supported modest, practical aid programs overseas, some of which contributed to ESD. We supported Clean up the World and Earth Hour campaigns in a number of overseas locations through the public diplomacy programs of our posts.

Outcome 4 – Efficient management of the Commonwealth overseas owned estate

The department contributed to ESD in its management of the overseas estate.

Effect of the department’s activities on the environment

The department’s operations in Canberra, our overseas posts and state and territory offices have a range of impacts on the environment. Measures to address these impacts are outlined below.

Measures being taken by the department to minimise the impact of its activities on the environment

The department retained certification for its Environmental Management System (EMS) for its activities in the R G Casey Building. On 12–13 May 2009, the department’s accredited external EMS auditor conducted a full re-certification audit against the international standard, ISO14001:2004, and found that the department remained in compliance. The auditors were satisfied that the department has continued to improve its environmental performance. Certification is for a period of three years with one-day surveillance audits conducted annually.

The department demonstrated its commitment to the environment and the reduction of carbon emissions by participating in Earth Hour on 28 March 2009. While switching off non-essential lighting and equipment is an integral part of daily EMS procedures, during Earth Hour measures were taken to switch off additional lighting.

In the R G Casey Building, the department has taken further steps to reduce its carbon emissions, including replacing halogen and incandescent light bulbs as they wear out with more energy efficient bulbs. The department has continued to explore further means of reducing energy consumption, including through environmentally sustainable procurement.

The department’s recycling and waste management procedures, which aim to reduce waste material going to landfill, were complemented by the introduction of a shredded paper recycling procedure. Shredded paper is collected and used in soil as mulch and to improve soil aeration while reducing the compacting of clay. From May to 30 June 2009, 3.2 tonnes was collected and consequently diverted from becoming landfill waste.

Caféé Brindabella, located in the R G Casey Building, continued to provide strong support for the EMS. The café maintained its 20 cent levy on takeaway cups, aimed at reducing waste. Since 2004, $94 275 has been raised and donated to Greening Australia for the planting of Australian native trees in areas affected by the Canberra bushfires.

Mechanisms for reviewing and increasing the effectiveness of these measures

The EMS measures the effectiveness of the department’s efforts to minimise the negative impacts of its operations on the environment. The EMS Committee meets regularly to review environmental performance and to consider future improvements. Internal and external EMS audits are undertaken and there is regular monitoring of statistical data on waste. Energy consumption is monitored monthly, and comparisons of annual energy consumption are undertaken to assess the department’s energy reduction performance.

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