Annual Report 2004-2005

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Appendix 8

Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance

Following is the department's report on its ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance in accordance with section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

How the activities of the organisation, and the administration of legislation by the organisation, accorded with the principles of ecologically sustainable development

The department, in pursuing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally, seeks to the extent possible to ensure that its policy activities and other operations accord with and contribute to the principles of ecologically sustainable development, and are shaped and implemented with appropriate reference to environmental impact. Relevant activities across a wide range of policy issues include multilateral environment agreements, international legal frameworks, sustainable development, climate change, fisheries, nuclear waste, trade, development assistance and public diplomacy.

The department continued to work constructively in the World Trade Organization (WTO) to achieve outcomes in the Doha Round that will strengthen both the multilateral trading system and promote sustainable development. We continued to argue that multilateral environment agreements (MEAs) and WTO obligations are mutually supportive and that both sets of obligations must be respected. Australia submitted a paper on its experience in negotiating and implementing specific trade obligations in MEAs which demonstrated that trade and environment obligations can be, and are, in Australia's case, being implemented in mutually supportive ways. We encouraged WTO members to develop domestic regulatory frameworks and administrative arrangements which ensure that trade and environment policies are implemented in a mutually supportive manner. We contributed positively to the work of the Committee on Trade and Environment in Special Session on liberalising trade in environmental goods and services, which will have trade and environmental benefits.

The department continued to lead a whole of government effort on international climate change issues and pursued the development of a more effective global response. We focused on developing and supporting concrete, practical measures: multilaterally through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, including encouraging all major emitters to contribute to actions addressing the causes of climate change; plurilaterally, through initiatives focused on the development and uptake of key climate and energy technologies, including the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, the Methane to Markets Partnership, the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership; regionally, through cooperative climate change action in the Asia–Pacific, the Climate Change and Business Conference and Trade Expo with New Zealand in Auckland (November 2004), and co-hosting with Korea the APEC Business and Climate Workshop, in coordination with the US and Japan-led Asia Region Climate and Energy Workshop (April 2005); and bilaterally through our climate change partnerships, including with the United States and China.

The department led Australia's engagement in several major international environment negotiations and forums, securing outcomes which advanced Australia's complementary environmental and trade policy interests. The Australian delegation to the 10-year review of the Barbados program of action for the sustainable development of small island developing states in Mauritius (January 2005) highlighted our support for ecologically sustainable development outcomes for Pacific island countries. The department led Australia's delegation to the second meeting of the parties (MOP2) to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (Montreal, May–June 2005). A key Australian objective was for parties to focus on practical steps and capacity-building to implement their obligations.

The department coordinated a major international lobbying effort promoting Australia's pro-conservation agenda prior to and during the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Ulsan, ROK (June 2005). With the IWC membership sharply divided, this diplomatic effort helped to ensure that attempts to reintroduce commercial whaling and expand scientific whaling were unsuccessful.

Along with other agencies, the department continued to pursue initiatives within the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to protect marine species and to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, particularly of Patagonian toothfish, through the adoption of a centralised vessel monitoring system at the 2004 CCAMLR meeting. Australia also played a key role in negotiating an international liability regime for damage to the Antarctic environment adopted in Stockholm in June 2005.

The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has the potential for very substantial environmental damage, should such weapons be used. The department, including the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO), is an active contributor to non-proliferation efforts in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and other international forums. The IAEA serves as a global focal point for cooperation on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including safeguards and security measures to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. As a member of the IAEA's Board of Governors, Australia made a strong contribution to the agency's work. The OPCW is responsible for the international implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention which includes verifying destruction of all declared chemical weapon stockpiles and helping to ensure that no chemical activities prohibited by the Convention occur. The department continued to actively support and promote the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Public diplomacy through the overseas network played a key role in projecting a positive 'clean and green' image of Australia overseas. The department is an official supporter of the Clean up the World (CUW) campaign. In 2004–05 the department assisted the distribution of campaign materials worldwide, while overseas mission staff supported the campaign through community liaison, media distribution and monitoring. Missions in Argentina, India, Malaysia, Turkey, Shanghai and the Philippines participated as members of the campaign. Missions in Kenya, Ghana, Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan, Kiribati, Israel, New Zealand, Poland, United Arab Emirates and Mauritius actively supported local CUW members through staff participation in local events and dissemination of CUW information to local schools and NGOs.

Development assistance through the department's Direct Aid Program contributed to ecologically sustainable development. Relevant projects included: an afforestation project in Dedeso-Begoro in the Eastern Region of Ghana; the production of educational materials for a live and learn environmental project in Suva; a sanitation and hygiene project in Hyderabad, Pakistan; and a project to create public awareness of environmental issues in Katahari, Morang District, Nepal, to improve the environment and health conditions.

How the department's outcomes contribute to ecologically sustainable development

The department's outcomes, specified in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2004–05, are:

  1. Australia's national interests protected and advanced through contributions to international security, national economic and trade performance and global cooperation
  2. Australians informed about and provided access to consular and passport services in Australia and overseas
  3. Public understanding in Australia and overseas of Australia's foreign and trade policy and a positive image of Australia internationally
  4. Efficient management of the Commonwealth overseas owned estate.

Outcome 1

The department contributed to ecologically sustainable development through participation in international negotiations across a range of policy areas.

Outcome 2

Activities under this outcome did not directly contribute to ecologically sustainable development.

Outcome 3

The department's Direct Aid Program and public diplomacy programs at overseas posts contribute to ecologically sustainable development through modest, practical aid programs to protect the environment and participation in Clean Up the World campaigns as earlier outlined.

Outcome 4

Activities under this outcome did not directly contribute to ecologically sustainable development.

Effect of the organisation's activities on the environment

The department's operations in Canberra and through its overseas network 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 organisation to minimise the impact of its activities on the environment

In accordance with the Government's decision of May 2001, the department has implemented an Environmental Management System (EMS) covering its activities in its Central Office, the R G Casey Building in Canberra. The department has selected an accredited certifying body, NCS International (NCSI), to audit its EMS against ISO 14001:1996, the International Standard for Environmental Management Systems. The EMS external audit process continued in August 2004 with a preliminary audit by NCSI.

Following the publication in December 2004 of a revised edition of ISO 14001, the department commenced a management review of its EMS, taking into account the changes in the new edition, as part of the process of preparing for a full certification audit later in the year.

In keeping with EMS requirements, the department's updated Environmental Policy, endorsed by the Secretary in August 2004, is available on the department's website. The EMS manual and integral electronic reporting forms are available on the department's intranet, along with the first three issues of the Greening DFAT newsletter. An EMS General Awareness Training module was introduced to provide all staff with key information on: the importance of conforming with the department's environmental policy and EMS procedures; the significant environmental impacts of their work activities and the environmental benefits of improved personal performance; and their roles and responsibilities in meeting the policy and procedures. In addition, an induction folder has been developed for use by contractors commencing temporary work in the department, including those performing building services and cleaning tasks. The induction folder reminds contractors of the need for compliance with the department's EMS and contains relevant EMS information.

The department's EMS Committee is continuing to manage, monitor, audit and review the departmental EMS, working to achieve compliance with the International Standard and continual improvement in the department's environmental performance. The EMS Committee includes the Chief Warden, members of the Domestic Property and Services Section, the Information and Communications Technology Branch, and representatives of all other departmental divisions.

The department's EMS is aimed at reducing negative impacts on the environment, in particular through reducing the use of energy and goods and minimising waste, and improving recycling and re-use of materials.

The department supported the Australian Greenhouse Office-led negotiations with energy suppliers for a whole of government electricity supply contract for the Australian Capital Territory that incorporates energy generated from renewable sources (Greenpower). The department has a three-year contract with a 10 per cent green energy requirement. In addition, with the agreement of the building owners, the department has completed the installation of additional electricity meters to improve monitoring of power consumption. Measures have also been taken to reduce water consumption.

Additional key EMS procedures which have continued during the period include: a Switch-Off and Save campaign (prompts staff to switch off lights and office equipment when not in use); procurement guidelines incorporating departmental EMS requirements (for example, energy efficiency ratings; re-use or recycling capacity; procurement of printers and photocopiers with duplex printing functionality and power-save modes; and steps to reduce/recycle packaging materials); use of individual paper recycling boxes at desks; a Stationery Recycling Depot for collection and re-use of stationery items; co-mingled waste bins (for plastics, glass, tins, cartons and clean paper) in the cafeteria, childcare centre and kitchens throughout the department; and water conservation signs and sink plugs in all kitchens. Regular use is made of the department's electronic bulletin board to introduce and promote these and new procedures, such as the introduction of recycling of fluorescent tubes and batteries.

The department exploited paperless technology to support the EMS. For example, Protocol Branch reduced its paper usage by using a computer desktop fax facility to facilitate the registration of motor vehicles owned by the diplomatic corps. Combined with electronic filing, the Branch has eliminated the need to generate any paper for this process. This enhancement should be rolled out for other branch processes in the coming year.

Re-manufactured printer toners are now used in lieu of purchasing new toner cartridges. The department also sends to auction all obsolete IT equipment that has a possibility of being sold and recycles any equipment not auctioned.

The department's state and territory offices have adopted a number of EMS procedures, including the Switch-Off and Save campaign, individual recycling boxes and magnetic signs to remind staff to switch off lights and office equipment.

Environmental impacts are taken into account within design briefs for overseas missions in keeping with Australian standards. For example, the brief for the engagement of consultants for the design and construction of the new mission in Jakarta took account of environmental impacts.

The department received EMS support from the Café Brindabella, located in the R G Casey Building, which introduced a 20 cent levy on takeaway cups to reduce the number going to landfill. The number of disposable cups has been reduced and the total levy collected of $11 410 has been donated to Greening Australia for the planting of Australian native trees and shrubs.

On 17 October 2004, volunteer staff from the department joined with the Café Brindbella and Greening Australia to plant 1500 native trees and shrubs at Mt Macdonald as part of the Canberra bushfire recovery. The department, in partnership with the Café Brindabella and Greening Australia, will schedule another voluntary tree planting for the spring of 2005.

Mechanisms for reviewing and increasing the effectiveness of these measures

The EMS measures the effectiveness of the department's efforts in minimising the impact of its operations on the environment. This is achieved through regular meetings of the department's EMS committee, internal and external EMS audits and the implementation of a monitoring and measurement plan. The effectiveness of the EMS is enhanced by staff completion of the EMS general awareness training module. Through these measures we are establishing a culture of environmental awareness, energy efficiency and waste recycling.

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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Annual Report 2004–2005
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