Appendix 7: 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.

The department continued to ensure that, where possible, policy activities, administration of legislated activities and other operations accorded with and enacted ecologically sustainable development (ESD) principles. We pursued these principles through a variety of activities including work on multilateral environment agreements, international legal frameworks and trade policy. These principles were also applied in our public diplomacy.

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 helped advance ESD by supporting Australia's response to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). We secured agreement for states to refrain from introducing new subsidies or extending or enhancing existing subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing. This was the first time UN member states have so clearly acknowledged the urgency required to combat harmful fisheries subsidies. We pressed for an international instrument to strengthen the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction and contributed towards new global sustainable development goals—to replace the current Millennium Development Goals after 2015.

The department supported reforms, currently underway, of the UN institutions responsible for environmental matters, including implementing changes to strengthen the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and working in the UN to establish the new High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, which replaces the Commission on Sustainable Development.

We contributed to successful conclusion of negotiations on a new international treaty to strengthen protection of human health and the environment through the regulation of mercury throughout its lifecycle. We also participated in negotiations under the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change on a new legal agreement covering all countries to come into effect from 2020.

With the Australian Antarctic Division of DSEWPaC, the department continued to build international support for the establishment of a network of seven marine protected areas in East Antarctica, as part of our ongoing efforts to protect and preserve Antarctica's environment. We contributed to successful conclusion of negotiations on a subsidiary agreement to the Niue Treaty on Cooperation in Fisheries Surveillance and Law Enforcement.

The department also contributed to ESD through its work on trade policy, including by playing a key role in the negotiation of an APEC agreement on reducing international barriers to trade in environmental goods.

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 uses Australian Paper's 100 per cent carbon neutral paper range, which is Greenhouse Friendly as certified by the former Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. The same carbon neutral paper will be used on the next generation Australian passport (the P-series), scheduled for release in August 2014.

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 ecologically sustainable development in its management of the overseas estate. Environmentally sustainable and energy efficient design principles are applied by the department's Overseas Property Office (OPO) in all new construction overseas and, within the limits imposed by the existing base building features, in fit-out and refurbishment works.

In current major new construction projects, OPO is targeting a self-assessed 5-star environmental outcome against the Australian Green Building Council rating system. Initiatives employed include intelligent building management systems to minimise energy use, water conservation and management to reduce demand on local supply, low-energy lighting and air conditioning, residential solar hot water and green technology landscaping.

In relation to the department's leased domestic offices, we have fulfilled required whole-of-government reporting on the ICT Sustainability Plan and the Australian Packaging Covenant. We reported the department's energy usage to the Department of Resources Energy and Tourism. We maintained involvement in the Government Agency Environment Network. The department continued to support 'green' events, for example Earth Hour.

The department seeks to maintain certification by external audit against the international standard ISO 14001 for the Environmental Management System (EMS) in its leased headquarters in the RG Casey Building in Canberra. The current certification is currently undergoing revalidation. Planned refurbishment and upgrading of the RG Casey Building on the renewal of the current lease in 2014 is expected to contribute to improved environmental performance by the department in Canberra.