It has been a very busy year for the Victorian Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability (CES). On 19 March 2019, two five-yearly CES reports, State of the Environment (SoE) 2018 Report and the inaugural State of the Yarra and Its Parklands (SoY) 2018 Report were tabled in the Victorian Parliament fulfilling the legislative requirements described in the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Act 2003. The State of the Forests (SoF) 2018 Report, while not requiring tabling, was simultaneously published.
Images Top: In March 2019, we celebrated the release of the State of the Environment 2018 Report, the inaugural State of the Yarra and Its Parklands 2018 Report and State of the Forests 2018 Report. Bottom: In October 2019, the Commissioner, Dr Gillian Sparkes, discussed the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in relation to these works at the Energy Evaluation Asia-Pacific Conference.
The findings and recommendations of all three CES reports created interest across government, academia, business, traditional and online media and the wider community, highlighting the diverse audiences that interact with the reports and the broad, bipartisan interest in what we do.
Images: Out and about: the CES team gave lectures, keynotes and took part in forums, workshops and panel sessions discussing the SoE 2018 Report, including the Commissioner’s Recommendations and the adoption of the UN SDGs as the organising framework for environmental reporting in Victoria.
FACE-TO-FACE ACROSS VICTORIA
The Commissioner’s role is to provide independent and objective scientific reporting to inform policy-makers, scientists and the wider Victorian community on the state’s natural environment. That means we need to reach out to a wide range of audiences and enhance knowledge and understanding of issues relating to ecologically sustainable development and the environment.
Melbourne-based presentations included: Commissioner’s Reference Group, DELWP, Parks Victoria Board, EPA Victoria, Sustainability Victoria, Birrarung Council, University of Melbourne, RMIT, Victorian Marine and Coastal Council, the Royal Society of Victoria (RSV), Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ), Locate 2019, the Melbourne Planning Summit, and IPAA Public Sector Week.
The CES also travelled across Victoria on a regional roadshow to share our report findings. Presentations at DELWP regional offices of Hume, Loddon Mallee, Grampians and Barwon Southwest included stakeholders from Local Government, CMAs, Parks Victoria, EPA Victoria, water authorities and community members. Other presentations included Regional Landcare Groups, Water Authorities, and the Greenhouse Alliances.
During the last quarter of 2019, the Commissioner also participated in the Victorian Parliamentary Legislative Council Inquiry into Recycling and Waste Management and a national Industry Roundtable on Waste and a Closed Loop Economy convened by the Hon. Sussan Ley MP, Federal Minister for Environment. The CES participates in the twice yearly National State of Environment Reporting Forums, convened by the Commonwealth Government.
GETTING SOCIAL ACROSS CES DIGITAL PLATFORMS
The CES has social media presence across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Most active audiences are engaged through Dr Gillian Sparkes LinkedIn feed and the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability LinkedIn company pages. As well as coverage surrounding the release of the three reports in March 2019, our 13 themes in 13 weeks campaign from July to November 2019, where we explored all the themes of the SOE 2018 Report individually, received record social media audiences.
Image: CES followers across our social media platforms during 2019.
TRACKING OUR IMPACT THROUGH HANSARD
After the release of the SoE 2018 Report in March 2019, the number of mentions of ‘Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability’ and ‘State of the Environment Report’ increased in Hansard, the official transcript of the Parliament of Victoria, due in past to the number of Bills under development that refer to increased CES reporting responsibilities. Hansard mentions specific to the work of the CES, include the following topics: the Yarra River, Victorian flora and fauna, water supply, native vegetation, Victoria’s marine and coastal environment, climate change, Great Ocean Road and Melbourne Strategic Assessment.
Image: Number of times ‘Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability’ and ‘State of the Environment Report’ are reported in Hansard between January 2014 to October 2019 by Victorian Members of Parliament (Source: Hansard Records).
PRINT AND BROADCAST MEDIA
The SoE 2018 and SoY 2018 Report coverage included pieces in The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Financial Review and ABC News. The Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Dr Gillian Sparkes also wrote opinion pieces for The Age and the Australian Financial Review. Throughout the year, the Commissioner Dr Gillian Sparkes also discussed the findings and recommendations of the SoE 2018 Report in a range of publications including: SciMex, The Mandarin, Waste Management Review, Spatial Source, The Conversation and Position Magazine.
The award-winning CES website is the centre of our reporting work. We have designed it to be a convenient go-to source of information for our wide audience who are seeking a more in-depth analysis and understanding of our reports. The number of visitors to the CES website increased dramatically after the release of the ‘State of’ 2018 Reports. This visitation was sustained during the year during key events including the Regional Roadshow and 13 Themes in 13 Weeks campaign.
Image: The number of visitor impressions from the CES website and CES LinkedIn page between 2018 to 2019.
Most CES report products are downloaded via the CES website, with the top-ranking downloads for 2019 being:
- SoE 2018 Summary Report
- SoF 2018 Report
- SoE 2018 Report Summary of Recommendations
- SoE 2018 Report Scientific Assessments
THANK YOU TO THE CES TEAM
As 2019 comes to a close, it is time to thank the CES team and especially welcome our new colleagues: Michael Reid, Manager of Business and Engagement; Dr Jack Coates-Marnane, Research Assistant and Katherine Li, Business Support Officer. We would like to thank our network of government, business, NGO and community members that have worked with and supported us throughout 2019, including the Commissioner’s Reference Group members who have been very generous with their time and expertise. We wish everyone a very happy and safe holiday season.