Applying the SDGs - determining socio-economic indicators for Victoria's environment

Sustainable Development Goals

Yesterday, the Commissioner hosted a high-level workshop which prioritised socio-economic indicators adapted from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs). This event was opened by The Hon Lily D'Ambrosio MP, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, and Professor John Thwaites from the Monash Sustainable Development Institute, who co-chaired with the Commissioner, Dr Gillian Sparkes.

The workshop determined the socio-economic indicators for state of the environment reporting in Victoria. The methodology being developed is one of the first for Australia and the findings will be published and presented at the International Conference for Sustainable Development in New York in late 2018.

Dr Sparkes said: “Today’s polling exercise matters and the outcomes will be used. What we do and the targets you will help to prioritise, will inform the data that we will generate, collect and analyse to produce our reports and drive real action for Victoria’s environment through policy and practice over the next decade and beyond.”

Work on the 2018 Victorian State of the Environment (SoE) report is well underway. The framework for the report, State and Benefit, was tabled in Parliament in December 2015 and describes the approach that is being undertaken in this reporting cycle.

The long-term goal of environmental reporting is to inform community, policy and decision making to improve environmental outcomes and ultimately, protect and enhance the benefits we obtain from our environment. As Victoria’s population and economy continue to grow it is increasingly important that we understand and quantify both the state of our natural environment and the benefits we derive from it.

Socio-economic indicators can demonstrate both our impact on natural capital and how natural capital (through ecosystem services) provides benefits to society. Broadening the SoE Report to include an analysis of this fundamental relationship is central to the new approach being undertaken by the Commissioner.

The UN adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015. The SDGs recognise that the extent and condition of our ecosystem assets provide many social, cultural and economic benefits. The SDGs are supported by a series of indicators. The Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability is collaborating with the Monash Sustainable Development Institute (MSDI) to develop a set of socio-economic indicators for the 2018 SoE report based on the SDGs.

This information will inform what new databases Victoria’s Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability will need to develop so that the Office can report on Victoria’s progress against these targets. 

Further reading: Meeting Considers Best Practices for SDG National Reporting Platforms, IISD 

Sustainable Development Solutions Network 

International Conference on Sustainable Development, September 28-28, 2018, New York