Friday, January 16, 2009

State of the Environment Report - Victoria

Dr Ian McPhail and his staff are to be commended on their excellent State of the Environment Report. I only wish it were moving and shaking policy quicker than seems to be the case. Taking the recommendations in this report on board as quickly as possible seems more urgent than ever given recent headlines such as: Victoria, the dirty state, shamed by emissions scorecard'.

As outlined by Ian:

'In December I released the first Victorian State of The Environment Report...... The material presented in the report will be useful as a resource for environmental educators, and for students.

The Report is a 'stocktake' of Victoria's environment and covers a broad range of contemporary issues including climate change, materials & waste, energy, water and biodiversity. Indicators of environmental health are presented in the context of the drivers of change and direct pressures on the environment. The consequences of the condition of the environment are considered in the context of contemporary economics and government decision making. Current management responses to the issues are described and recommendations for improving Victoria’s environment are made. Under legislation, the Victorian government is required to respond to the recommendations within 12 months. The report received excellent feedback from commentators, academics and environmental NGO's, including this editorial in The Age.'

In addition to the main report, a SUMMARY and a series of FACT SHEETS are also available. In addition to the online resources available at Ian advises that he is ' more than happy to provide presentations to post-graduate seminars, professional development sessions on the structure, content and purposes of the report, delivered by a member of my office. In addition, and subject to the availability of staff, the office may be able to deliver guest lectures to students as part of their course'.


The report is published in five main parts, each available from the website.

• Part 1, Introduction, provides an overview of the content, introduces some key concepts, and describes roles and responsibilities for managing Victoria’s environment.
• Part 2, Driving Forces, considers some of the main drivers that influence environmental change.
• Part 3, Production, Consumption and Waste investigates our consumption patterns and identifies how our use of resources acts as a direct pressure on the environment by examining our use and management of energy, water and materials.
• Part 4, the State of the Environment, presents the current state of the natural environment in four chapters, Atmosphere, Land and Biodiversity, Inland Waters, and Coasts, Estuaries & the Sea.
• Part 5, Living Well Within Our Environment, considers the complex interactions between issues covered throughout the report and presents some recommendations for future action by government and the community.

The Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability is situated at Level 16, Marland House, 570 Bourke St, Melbourne, Vic 3000.

The media reporting on this report has been excellent but too often journalists seem to lack any critical or systemic appreciation of the arguments leading to simplistic spin on the part of ministers and advisers being reported. This is particularly the case on matters pertaining to per capita performance and gross performance. Per capta gains mean little if gross demand or output, of say carbon, continues to grow via population growth, housing expansion etc or in the case of Victoria, there is a failure to move away as quickly as possible from the main carbon pollutant, brown coal.

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