Annual Report 2006-2007

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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.

How the activities of the department, and the administration of legislation by the department, accorded with the principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD)

In pursuing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally, the department sought to the extent possible to ensure its policy activities and other operations accorded with and contributed to ESD principles. Relevant activities are found across a wide range of policy issues from multilateral environment agreements and international legal frameworks, to development assistance, public diplomacy and trade (see sub-output 1.1.9 for more information). The department’s commitment to these principles was also demonstrated by achieving certification of the department’s Environmental Management System (EMS) to the relevant international standard—ISO 14001:2004.

How the department’s outcomes contributed to ESD

The department’s four outcomes 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 ESD through participation in international negotiations across a range of policy areas related to the environment.

Outcome 2

Activities under this outcome do not directly contribute to ESD.

Outcome 3

The department’s Direct Aid Program supported modest, practical aid programs overseas, some of which contributed to ESD. We supported Clean up the World campaigns in a number of overseas locations through the public diplomacy programs of our posts.

Outcome 4

The department contributed directly to ESD in its management of the construction activity and maintenance of the overseas 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

In June 2006 the department received ISO14001:2004 accreditation for its Environmental Management System (EMS) covering activities in its central office, the R G Casey Building in Canberra. A certification compliance audit was undertaken in April 2007 which confirmed our compliance with the requirements of the international environmental management system standard.

The department’s EMS Committee manages, monitors, audits and reviews the EMS to maintain compliance with the international standard and to ensure continuous improvement in environmental performance. The committee comprises representatives from all divisions within the department as well as the Domestic Property and Services Section and the Environment Branch.

The EMS has been effective in raising awareness of recycling and energy conservation, which has been demonstrated in reduced landfill waste and a modest reduction in energy consumption in the R G Casey Building over the previous year. We are soon to trial a new waste system aimed at reducing landfill waste by a further 50 per cent. Work is underway with the landlord to gain further energy efficiencies through the Building Management System. An audit of electrical appliances in use throughout the building has been undertaken with a view to removing non-essential items and ensuring that appliances in use have high energy efficiency ratings.

The department continued to receive strong EMS support from Café Brindabella, located in the R G Casey Building. The café continued its 20 cents levy on takeaway cups, aimed at reducing waste. A total of $45 500 has been raised by the levy since 2004 and the moneys donated to Greening Australia for the planting of Australian native trees in areas affected by the Canberra bushfires. Volunteers from the department and members of Café Brindabella staff, in partnership with Greening Australia, again participated in a planting of native trees and shrubs to celebrate World Environment Day. Altogether, 15 000 trees have now been planted at these events.

The department conducts its overseas property design and management in accordance with the requirements of the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines. As part of the tendering and evaluation process for project development and construction in the overseas estate, consultants are required to provide environmental management and waste management plans to enable evaluation panels to assess their management of these issues. As a part of project development, project designers prepare a concept design report covering ecological aspects of the project, including energy use targets and energy design concepts. The department aims to achieve best environmental practice in its projects, and not simply to meet local regulatory requirements.

Mechanisms for reviewing and increasing the effectiveness of these measures

The EMS measures the effectiveness of the department’s efforts to minimise the negative impact of its operations on the environment. Regular meetings of the EMS Committee are held. Internal and external EMS audits are undertaken and regular monitoring of waste is conducted. Waste audits are performed annually. Improvements in recycling have resulted in the department reducing the number of its landfill skips. Comparisons of annual energy consumption are undertaken to ensure continuous improvement in this area.

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