Victoria is a national leader in reporting on the state of the environment. The Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Act 2003 established Victoria’s first Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability to:
- report on the condition of Victoria’s natural environment
- encourage decision making that facilitates ecologically sustainable development
- enhance knowledge and understanding of issues relating to ecologically sustainable development and the environment
- encourage the Victorian Government and local governments to adopt sound environmental practices and procedures.
To meet these objectives, the Commissioner prepares a State of the Environment Report (SOE Report) every five years. The Commissioner also completes annual strategic audits of the environmental management systems of Victorian government agencies and public authorities, as well as the work of sectors of the Victorian community.
The Commissioner reports to the Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, and through the Minister to the Victorian Parliament.
Reporting on the environment
Regular reporting about the state of the Victorian environment is an important way to describe and explain environmental processes, and monitor and manage activities that impact on the environment. The SOE Report sets out data, knowledge and information and provides useful guidance, including through case studies.
Biophysical scientists collect, examine and provide the data upon which SOE Reports are based. This monitoring and field work may span decades and can promote and reflect community partnerships. Their research insights can drive innovative ways to consider the implications of the loss of natural capital and suggest methods for protecting it. They may also involve other experts to find solutions.
Raw data provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Victorian State Government departments and agencies inform our understanding of the environment and the recommended remedial actions.
Environmental reporting has always collected data, described trends and recommended improvements in monitoring and research. As our understanding of complex environmental issues has become more sophisticated the reporting framework has evolved.
The 2013 SOE Report was based on the Science, Policy, People framework recommended to the Victorian Government by the Commissioner in October 2010.
The 2013 SOE Report has two sections. The first contains detailed background information, findings, trends and analysis against environmental indicators in the following areas:
- climate change
- air quality
- inland waters
- marine and coastal environments
- human settlements.
The second section of the SOE Report presents recommendations to improve five sustainability goals:
- resilient ecosystems
- sustainable natural resources
- sustainable energy
- sustainable communities
- understanding the environment, including through better monitoring and data collection.