Sustainability challenge

WESTERN Australian and national industry groups have challenged some of the State Sustainability Strategy’s fundamental premises.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Chamber of Minerals and Energy, and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association have told the WA Government’s Sustainability Policy Unit that they would prefer the strategy to be known as the State Sustainable Development Strategy.

CME director policy and external relations David Parker said “sustainable development” was what was required to achieve the end-game of sustainability.

The CCI’s submission says the term “sustainable development” represents a more desirable and beneficial set of objectives, and the ideas it represented are more capable of implementation.

An APPEA spokesperson said sustainable development was the globally accepted term and the concept, in vogue internationally for a decade, had been born of lots of blood, sweat and tears.

APPEA’s submission claims that this concept differs from the draft strategy’s use of “sustainability”, and its “redefinition” of sustainable concepts, are “inconsistent with national initiatives, strategy and policy”.

“A project that produced lots of jobs, made money and, at the same time, had a positive impact on the environment, would be quite unique,” the APPEA spokesperson said, making a point also highlighted by the CCI.

The CCI’s response to the draft is particularly strong.

CCI chief executive Lyndon Rowe said the chamber had no difficulty with the objective of sustainable development, but objected philosophically to the role of Government as put forward by the strategy.

He said the draft placed too much emphasis on the Government’s role at the expense of encouraging business to find practical, innovative ways to achieve sustainable development.

“Our objective is to bring about a rethink on the proper role of markets and the Government in achieving sustainable development,” Mr Rowe said.

“There’s been a misreading of the success of past practice – we do not necessarily have to do everything fundamentally differently. Social and environmental performance has been improving while the State has been developing.”

CCI’s submission went as far as to say that the draft systematically “down-played businesses’ concerns, initiatives and achievements” in the practice of sustainable development.

Mr Rowe said the draft also had the potential to undermine the work done last year towards stream-lining Government approvals processes for major developments.

Mr Parker said the CME had outlined in its submission how the internationally agreed principles from the Global Mining Initiative could work in WA.

The CME has also requested full consultation and high level participation in progressing strategy to policy.

Mr Parker said it wanted principles, governance, priorities, costings and justifications determined on the draft’s 249 recommendations prior to any implementation.

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