Many of the world's most serious environment problems - such as loss of biodiversity, climate change, deforestation, ozone depletion, desertification and marine pollution - are global in scope and effect.
International cooperation is an essential part of addressing the underlying causes of these problems and in developing and implementing effective solutions.
Australia continues to be an influential and constructive player on environmental issues and sustainable development, both globally and regionally.
Activities in multilateral and regional fora
Engaging in multilateral forums and other international environmental organisations can help Australia benefit from international actions to manage global resources, the atmosphere, the high seas and Antarctica.
Many multilateral environmental agreements provide the constitutional basis for the Australian Government’s engagement in the environment. The department is responsible for ensuring that any decisions taken in these forums advance Australia’s domestic objectives while improving global environmental outcomes. It is necessary to engage intensively in those organisations that have direct impacts on domestic legislation, policy or programs that the department administers. It is particularly important that Australia engages in forums that make decisions with legally binding impacts on Australian industry and trade.
Decisions taken in various international forums have the potential to create financial impacts (in the billions of dollars) for major economic sectors, such as tourism and mining. Examples include decisions regarding the status of Australia’s World Heritage properties, and commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Effective engagement in these and other organisations will help to maximise environmental and economic outcomes.
The department is building depth and breadth in our bilateral and regional relationships. The department maintains bilateral relations on environment policy with counterpart agencies in India, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, China, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.
Bilateral engagement can facilitate cooperation with countries on areas of mutual interest. For instance, Australia engages with Papua New Guinea to help achieve mutually beneficial marine conservation outcomes. Bilateral engagement also provides opportunities to promote
environment-related sectors of Australia’s economy, including renewable energy.
Australia contributes to a number of international fora by means of periodic and regular reporting. In addition to reports submitted as required by various conventions, reports are submitted to international organisations. These reports are an assessment of how Australia meets its own environmental objectives and fulfils international commitments.
- 2030 Agenda
- International Union for Conservation of Nature
- Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
- Rio+20 - The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development
- Trade and the environment
- United Nations Environment Programme
Treaties and other fora on particular issues
Much of the portfolio’s work has both a domestic and an international component. Information about international relationships can be found below.
- Biodiversity – includes Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, Convention on Migratory Species, International Whaling Commission, Convention on Wetlands, and Convention to Combat Desertification.
- Climate Change – includes Framework Convention on Climate Change, Intergovernmental Platform on Climate Change, and Asia-Pacific Rainforest Recovery Program.
- Hazardous Waste
- Marine Environment – includes the Coral Triangle Initiative, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, and biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction.
- Ozone Layer Protection
- World Heritage