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



Appendix 8

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 and meetings across a range of policy areas related to the environment and sustainable development, including preparations for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to be held in June 2012.

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. The department has also sought to establish how the current Environment Management System Framework can be applied to the overseas owned 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. 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.

The department has fulfilled all required whole-of-government reporting; in August 2010 the department reported to the Department of Environment on the National Environment Protection Measures. In October 2010 the department reported to the Department of Environment on the Australian Packaging Covenant Report. In November 2010 the department reported to the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency using the Online System for Comprehensive Activity Reporting for Government Greenhouse and Energy Reporting.

Throughout 2010–11 the department monitored and updated the Legal and Other Compliance Register and EMS procedures as required ensuring that we remain compliant with legislative developments. 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.

Table 28. Domestic Electricity usage (kwh)

  2008–09 2009–10 2010–11
RG Casey Building 14 592 984.0 14 434 246.0 13 937 772.0
State, Territory and Passport Offices* 1 019 088.0 1 034 015.5 807 878.1
Total 15 612 072.0 15 468 261.5 14 745 650.1

* This includes state offices in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia; Northern Territory Office; Torres Strait Treaty Liaison Office; New South Wales Passport Office; Newcastle Passport Office and Sydney Airport (diplomatic mail storage). The Torres Strait Treaty Liaison Office residence is included in 2009–10 and 2010–11.

The department maintains involvement in the Government Agency Environment Network (GAEN) and participates in the various GAEN subgroups on Green Procurement, Green Skills, Green Buildings and Leases, and the Environment Management Systems group – for which the department has recently taken on administration duties. The department has also begun implementation of the Australian Government ICT Sustainability Plan 2010–2015.

The department actively supports and promotes internally and at post various “green” events such as Earth Hour, World Tree Day, Clean Up Australia Day, Clean Up the World Day, and events by Greening Australia. 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, $141 000 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.

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