The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a plan for prosperity for people and the planet.

The 2030 Agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted through a global partnership in an urgent call for action.

Applying the SDGs in Victoria

Through our Science for Sustainable Development approach, we have adopted the SDGS as an operating framework for environmental reporting and will report on selected SDGs for Victoria.

Our reporting embraces three levels of synthesis:

  1. environmental condition reporting
  2. assessing interlinkages across the SDG targets
  3. tracking progress on selected SDG targets.

Connecting SDGs to marine and coasts reporting

Our State of the Marine and Coastal Environment 2021 Report proposes a formative method to operationalise the SDGs for state of the environment reporting in Victoria.

Selected SDG targets were assessed for their relevance to marine and coastal reporting.

This analysis aligned the SDG targets with the scope of the State of the Marine and Coastal Environment 2021 Report and adopted the three objectives for reporting from the Marine and Coastal Act 2018 as the criteria:

  • condition of the marine and coastal environment
  • environmental, social and economic benefits of the marine and coastal environment
  • threats to the marine and coastal environment.

Through this alignment exercise, 40 targets (of the 169 SDG targets) were found to be aligned with at least one marine and coastal objective.

This list of 40 selected targets for State of the Marine and Coastal Environment reporting, and the specific indicators to report on their progress, are available in the report.

Localising the SDGs to improve environmental outcomes

In 2021, we engaged with our partners to co-create a method for understanding local priorities and localising the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This work has illuminated the need for complementary top-down and bottom-up approaches to improve environmental outcomes at the local scale.

We convened a workshop with local coastal and land managers from local government authorities, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), catchment management authorities and other agencies, community groups and volunteers. The workshop brought together more than 70 participants to prioritise a subset of indicators from this report. The aim was to agree a subset of indicators to which all stakeholders could contribute, and which could reasonably enable the participation and collection of data on priority issues, statewide, to help monitor and manage Victoria’s coast.

Workshop participants prioritised indicators on the following criteria:

  • indicators that represent issues of significant local importance
  • indicators where local authorities, committees of management, and volunteers, can make a difference to improve the outcome result
  • indicators requiring a response from more than one local agency, management authority, volunteer group or community group to make a difference and improve the result.

Formal partnerships between Traditional Owners and local authorities were included as a pre-prioritised indicator given the importance of recognising Traditional Owners role, and stewardship, in caring for Country.

Seastar (Uniophora granifera)
Image credit - Julian Finn, Museums Victoria

Future environmental reporting and the SDGs

Our reporting outlines a formative method towards achieving our goal of assessing interlinkages and tracking progress against SDG targets in future reports.

The narrative approach adopted in this report is one of a range of methods for assessing interlinkages but is limited to a qualitative assessment. Quantitative and modelling methods will require a targeted research project and an analysis of the applications across all themes to measure Victoria’s progress on the SDGs: identifying areas in which we are lagging; exploring how economic, social and environmental targets interlink; and modelling how recommendations from SoE reporting can improve progress on ecological sustainable development.

The logic described above in the ‘Data for Decision Making’ figure is designed to deliver the method’s following objectives:

  • Deliver a reporting regime that ‘operationalises’ the SDG framework by anticipating the whole system – representing all 17 goals – in its findings and recommendations.
  • Improve our understanding of how elements of the system affect the whole – and how the system affects discrete elements.
  • Assess policy coherence – acknowledging strengths and challenging incoherence.
  • Provide data for decision-making in a clear and targeted way that anticipates management and policy options that improve coherence.