Source: DFAT Portfolio Budget Statements 2017–18, p. 23, Outcome 1
The department continued to contribute to the development of a new global treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), co-sponsoring the UN General Assembly’s resolution to commence formal negotiations in September 2018.
With the Australian Antarctic Division of the Department of the Environment and Energy, 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 region.
The department’s aid program was delivered in accordance with the principles of ecological sustainability underpinned by Commonwealth environmental legislation, including the EPBC Act, Australia’s development policy, environmental laws 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. This year the department streamlined guidance on our safeguard responsibilities through the release of the Environmental and Social Safeguard Policy for the Aid Program. The policy outlines a consolidated approach to managing safeguard risks in the Australian aid program and seeks to ensure that aid investments do not cause unacceptable impacts to people and their environment. All investments, regardless of the monetary value or delivery approach, must be assessed for potential environmental and social risks and impacts in accordance with the policy.
The department is integrating climate change action and disaster risk reduction across our entire aid program to ensure that our development and humanitarian assistance supports partners to reduce emissions and address the impacts of climate change. Integration will protect investments, build long-term resilience to climate and disaster impacts, and help our development partners to manage climate risks.
Australia is leading global efforts to conserve coastal blue carbon ecosystems (mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses), which play a significant role in carbon sequestration. In 2017 the department committed $6 million to a new initiative to protect and manage coastal blue carbon ecosystems in the Pacific, and almost half a million dollars for blue carbon initiatives in the Indian Ocean region. This was complemented by 11 Australia Awards Fellowships from Indian Ocean Rim Association members (Madagascar, Seychelles and Mauritius) to build capacity on managing the Blue Economy.
In October 2017, the department also committed $5 million to assist in developing innovative mechanisms to support the management and restoration of global coral reefs. This investment, in conjunction with a $2 million commitment through the International Coral Reef Initiative and the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, will support the development of capacity building and data collection activities in the Indo-Pacific region.
The department worked with multilateral and bilateral partners, including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, to improve developing country safeguard systems, and develop a common and robust approach to environmental and social safeguards.