Why we protect the environment
The environment is integral to the economic prosperity of developed and developing countries. Natural capital–natural assets in their role of providing natural resource inputs and environmental services for economic production–accounts, on average, for 36 per cent of total wealth1. The majority of the population of developing countries depend directly on the natural environment for their food, water, shelter, livelihoods and economic resilience. The environment is, however, under increasing pressure to support the demands of growing populations.
Economic prosperity in the Indo Asia Pacific region has lifted millions out of poverty. At the same time, environmental pressures from the unprecedented growth are evident: declining water quality and quantity, loss of biodiversity, erosion, deforestation and desertification, and elevated pollution levels, with negative impacts on human health.
Protecting the environment provides for sustainable economic development.
Australia's new development policy is unequivocal about managing risks to the environment from development activities. It commits Australia's aid program to '...actively manage risk by mitigating adverse environmental and social impacts in the aid program through the application of mandatory safeguard policies...'
How we protect the environment
DFAT has an obligation under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) to consider whether an aid activity is causing, or is likely to cause, a significant impact on the environment.
The Environment Protection Policy for DFAT's Aid Program articulates the principles by which DFAT's aid program will meet its legislative and international obligations and work with aid delivery partners to implement the policy. Our delivery partners include Australian whole-of-government departments and agencies, partner governments, multilateral organisations, bilateral organisations, non-government organisations, civil society organisations, research organisations, academia, special purpose fund operators and contractors.
Implementation of the Policy is supported by a series of Good Practice Notes, which provide more detail on each principle of the Policy and assist implementing partners to comply with the Policy.
There is also a short video explaining the Policy: