Developing the report
Formal reporting requirements
Section 112 of the Environment Protection Act 1993
Since statutory requirements for state of the environment reporting were introduced (see Figure 4), SA has initiated a number of other significant environmental reporting requirements. Most of these came into effect after 2000 and include the River Murray Act 2003, the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 and the Climate Change and Greenhouse Emissions Reduction Act 2007.
To identify and prioritise key environmental information needs, the EPA through the 2013 SOER, recommended SA develop an environmental information strategy and plan. This plan would provide coordination and integration of environmental data collection and improve access to, and communication of, environmental information.
This is consistent with the 2007 OECD recommendation, in its review of Australia’s environmental performance, to ‘harmonise the collection and reporting of key environmental information and statistics at the state/territory level so as to facilitate national level aggregation and reporting'.
In its response to the 2013 SOER, the government accepted this recommendation.
The EPA Board appointed a steering committee to oversee the 2018 SOER project and serve as an editorial panel for the report. This SOER Steering Committee included:
- Tony Circelli – EPA Chief Executive and Chair
- Allan Holmes – former EPA Board Deputy Presiding Member
- Christine Trenorden – EPA Board Member and Visiting Professor, University College London
- Prof Chris Daniels – Professor of Biology at the University of South Australia
- Peter Croft – representative of the Conservation Council of South Australia
- Keith Baldry – EPA Director of Science and Information
- Sandy Pitcher – former Chief Executive, Department for Environment and Water.
The project was also supported by an interagency Project Assurance Group that included:
- Keith Baldry – EPA Director of Science and Information (Chair)
- Peter Meadows – Director, Australian Bureau of Statistics
- John Nairn – Regional Director, Bureau of Meteorology
- Michelle Bald – Manager of Knowledge Management, Department for Environment & Water
- Jennifer Slocombe – Senior Environmental Management Officer, Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure
- Stephen Smith – Director of Policy, Local Government Association of South Australia
- Elena Anear – Assistant Director of Strategy and Policy, Primary Industries and Regions South Australia
- Tobias Hills – EPA Project Manager.
Key steps to developing this 2018 SOER were:
- The SOER Steering Committee approved a project plan, communication and engagement plan, purpose statement and reporting framework, and also served as editorial panel.
- The EPA, in consultation with government departments, non-government organisations and local councils, identified data sources, case studies and key issues to inform content for presentation online and in a printed summary.
- The EPA wrote most of the content and commissioned experts to prepare contributions on a selection of important issues.
State of environment reporting in all jurisdictions is constantly evolving. Currently, prominent features are:
- experimentation with environmental economic accounting
- transition to online reporting
- use of creative data visualisation techniques, eg conceptual diagrams and infographics
- highlighting important issues
- assessment of effectiveness of programs to protect, restore or enhance the environment.
In line with this, the 2018 SOER:
- is produced online with a printed summary
- has more visual representation of information
- utilises a report card format for presenting trends and condition of natural assets
- highlights important environmental issues facing South Australia.
Other new features of the 2018 SOER is increased engagement with environmental groups and local councils from the early stages of report preparation, and inclusion of analysis of a selection of important issues by external experts. This has resulted in a more informed and relevant report, which responds to issues raised by stakeholders and includes valuable information identified by these groups.