AUSTRALIA'S ENRIRONMENT INTERESTS
Australia attaches importance to the protection, conservation and ecologically sustainable use of the environment. Australia participates actively in international negotiations in a range of environmental forums to secure outcomes that advance environmental and trade interests in a mutually reinforcing framework.
Australia is a driving force behind global whale conservation and is an active member of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Australia supports whale sanctuaries and non-lethal research on whale populations to protect them as they recover from centuries of hunting. Jointly with New Zealand since 2000, Australia has argued in the IWC for the creation of a South Pacific whale sanctuary. A whale sanctuary in the South Pacific would complement the existing Southern Ocean sanctuary by protecting whales in their breeding grounds, in addition to their feeding grounds in the Southern Ocean.
The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity has the potential to have an impact on Australia as a developer and user of genetically modified organisms in agricultural applications. Although not a party to the protocol, the Australian Government engages actively at international meetings and consults closely with key domestic industries and like-minded agricultural exporting countries to protect Australia's environmental and trade interests.
Australia plays a leading role in practical international approaches to address climate change. In July 2005 Australia, China, India, Japan, ROK and USA founded a new partnership to address climate change, energy security and air pollution issues in ways that encourage economic development and reduce poverty. Australia maintains constructive engagement with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, has a series of dynamic bilateral climate change partnerships, plays a key role in international climate related technology initiatives, and funds climate related aid projects, particularly in the South Pacific.
Following the December 2004 tsunami Australia played a leading role in establishing an Indian Ocean tsunami warning system (IOTWS) and has developed a comprehensive national warning system. Australia will host the IOTWS Secretariat in Perth, which will coordinate tsunami warning for the Indian Ocean. As part of the Indian Ocean system, Australia’s increased monitoring capacity off the west and north coasts will provide vital regional coverage. Australia is committed to sharing relevant information with countries in the region.