Environment Connect: Better understanding, better outcomes
Thank you to Tim Piper of AiGroup for the invitation to speak to the Environment Connect Group at AiGroup in Melbourne last week. Environment Connect is a forum for safety and environment managers/practitioners from industry, convened by AiGroup several times a year to discuss safety and environment issues affecting industry. It is a forum to connect with each other and invited guests on key topics. I’m a great supporter of these types of cross-sector forums. In my experience, they are invaluable for sharing ideas, issues and insights as we work together to protect and enhance Victoria’s environment.
As with most of my discussions with industry lately, waste management and the issues this sector is experiencing at both a State and National level was raised. Waste is a theme routinely covered in the Victorian State of Environment (SoE) reports – it featured in both the 2008 and 2013 SoE reports and will do so again in the 2018 SoE report. Sustainability Victoria provide our waste data. My team are currently consulting with the waste team at SV on that data. Our goal will be to make recommendations in the 2018 SoE report that are practical, future-focused and build on foundational, policy work such as the Statewide Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan.
I also took the opportunity to discuss the upcoming Interim State of the Environment Report which will be released mid-year.
This is the first time my Office will have produced an interim SoE report. The soft release of this ‘straw man’ for the SoE report will do a number of things:
• Provide transparency in an election year
• Provide a foundation for meaningful discussion of key themes and future priorities to inform the final report
• Identify challenges for reporting (e.g. data availability & currency)
• Emphasise the importance of the “Future Focus 2030” chapter that will appear in the final report.
I spoke with the Environment Connect members about my ambition for the "Future Focus 2030" chapter of the SoE report, saying “this will tell the story of where the focus and investment needs to be on the environment over the next decade".
Due to the timing of the 2018 SoE coinciding with an election year, this chapter will provide a solid platform for a very targeted discussion with the incoming Government and Environment Minister later this year.
The interim report will not include recommendations or findings. As I told the Environment Connect Group, that is work for the 2018 SoE report which will be complete by December this year and tabled in the Victorian Parliament early in 2019.
Finally, thanks Tim Piper for your message to delegates that it is vital that the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability hears from industry and offers pragmatic views and solutions.