Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance
This appendix comprises the department’s report on its ecologically sustainable development 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 principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD)
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 our public diplomacy.
How the department’s outcomes contributed to ESD
Outcome 1 – The advancement of Australia’s international strategic, security and economic interests including through bilateral, regional and multilateral engagement on Australian Government foreign and trade policy priorities
The department contributed to ESD through participation in international and bilateral negotiations across a range of policy areas related to the environment and sustainable development.
Outcome 2 – The protection and welfare of Australians abroad and access to secure international travel documentation through timely and responsive travel advice and consular and passport services in Australia and overseas
The N-Series Passport, launched in May 2009, uses Australian Paper’s 100 per cent carbon neutral ENVI paper range, which is Greenhouse Friendly as certified by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.
Outcome 3 – A secure Australian Government presence overseas through the provision of security services and information and communications technology infrastructure, and the management of the Commonwealth’s 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 27 May 2010, the department’s accredited external EMS auditor conducted a one-day surveillance audit against the international standard, ISO14001:2004 and found that the department remained in compliance. The auditor was satisfied that the department had continued to improve its environmental performance.
In the R G Casey Building, the department has taken further steps to reduce its carbon emissions, including by replacing halogen and incandescent light bulbs as they wear out with more energy efficient bulbs, and by installing an automatic light switch-off system that switches lights off at 7pm every evening. The department has continued to explore further ways of reducing energy consumption, including through environmentally sustainable procurement.
The department has complemented its recycling and waste management procedures with the introduction of shredded paper recycling. Shredded paper is collected and used in soil as mulch and to improve soil aeration while reducing the compaction of clay. Since May 2009, 5.45 tonnes of shredded paper has been collected and consequently been diverted from becoming landfill waste.
Café Brindabella, located in the R G Casey Building, continued to provide strong support for the EMS. The cafe maintained its 20-cents levy on takeaway cups, aimed at reducing waste. Since 2004, $115 675 has been raised by the levy and the monies donated to Greening Australia for the planting of Australian native trees in areas affected by the 2003 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.