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 EPBC Act).

The department continued to ensure that policy activities, administration of legislated activities and other operations accorded with and enacted ecologically sustainable development principles. We pursued these principles through a combination of multilateral environmental agreements, international legal frameworks, foreign, trade and development policies and property and corporate management policies. These principles were also applied in the department’s 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, trade and international development policy priorities.

Working with other countries, the department helped secure the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Paris Agreement in December 2015. The agreement provides a universal, legally-binding framework for countries to reduce their emissions consistent with holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.

The department worked closely with international partners in UN negotiations for a new global treaty to improve the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdictions.

With the Australian Antarctic Division of the Department of the Environment, we continued to build international support for the establishment of a network of marine protected areas in East Antarctica. We also supported whole-of-government efforts to deter and prevent illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in the Southern Ocean and Indo–Pacific.

The department’s international development assistance program was delivered in accordance with the principles of ecological sustainability underpinned by Commonwealth environmental legislation and regulations, including the EPBC Act, Australia’s development policy, environmental laws and regulations of partner governments, and relevant multilateral environment agreements.

Australia’s development policy Australian aid: promoting prosperity, reducing poverty, enhancing stability commits to actively managing risks to people and their environment by applying mandatory safeguards policies. The department’s Environment Protection Policy for the Aid Program, November 2014, provides a framework for the management of environmental safeguards in aid investments. All investments, regardless of the monetary value or delivery approach, must be assessed for potential environmental and social impacts in accordance with the policy.

The department worked with multilateral donor partners, including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, to ensure the principles of ecologically sustainable development are implemented internationally by improving developing country safeguard systems, and by working with donor partners to develop a common approach to environment and social safeguards across the Pacific.

Environmental management services to all properties in the domestic leased estate are delivered under the department’s Property Management Services contract with Cushman and Wakefield (C&W). Under the contract C&W provides:

  • monitoring and reporting on the impact of the department’s business on the environment;
  • identifying, costing and, where cost effective, implementing environmental initiatives;
  • preparing business cases to obtain funding for the implementation of major environmental initiatives;
  • preparing information for mandatory departmental reporting including Energy Efficiency in Government Operations (EEGO), National Waste Policy, Australian Packaging Covenant and WaterMAPS; and
  • providing strategic advice on environmental management policy and government direction that will benefit departmental strategies.

C&W is also required to be compliant and remain up-to-date with any changes in relevant legislation, regulation and policy.

The department fulfilled required whole-of-government reporting on the ICT Sustainability Plan and the Australian Packaging Covenant. We collated energy usage according to the metrics outlined in EEGO policy and utilised this information to target initiatives and energy efficiency works. The department maintained involvement in the Government Agency Environment Network.

The department’s leased headquarters in the RG Casey Building in Canberra has recently undergone refurbishment by the owner. The work was completed in April 2016 and was scoped to contribute to improved environmental performance. The department’s leased premises at 255 London Circuit Canberra holds an accredited 4.5 star National Australian Built Environment Rating System energy rating for offices based on a number of features including an environmentally sustainable cooling system and grey water recycling.

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.

All Australian passports issued during the reporting period were printed on Australian Paper’s 100 per cent carbon neutral, environmentally friendly paper range.

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 property estate.

In the overseas estate, environmental performance is a core part of all major new construction projects. A key component is the environmental management of the construction activities through development of project-specific environmental management plans and environmental monitoring units. Environmental monitoring and management through the construction phase includes air quality, noise levels, and waste water management. Contractors are also required to recycle to the fullest extent possible, manage all diesel and lubricant storage, and provide environmental protection in the form of site hoarding, fences and screens to minimise impact on the surrounding area.

The department is actively pursuing various environmentally sustainable initiatives in the delivery of its overseas projects such as energy efficient lighting, daylight and motion sensors, rain water harvesting, and zoned air-conditioning systems and building management systems to lower energy consumption.

Back to top