Today I attended a workshop conducted by the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) which focused on discussing Victoria’s Environmental Sustainability Framework, Our Environment Our Future.This framework was completed in 2005 with the intent of reaffirming and establishing targets for the State Government’s sustainability initiatives. Among these initiatives is the goal to increase public transport modal share to 20% by the year 2020 and to increase the percentage of new development within activity centres.
There was general consensus that targets established by the State Government must be measurable and identify incremental progress, meaning that goals such as 20% modal share for public transport by 2020 must be provided with incremental targets (such as targeting 14% modal share by 2011) measured against actual results. The use of incremental targets would ensure that longer term targets are not purely seen as unachievable.
The lack of a whole of government approach and the dominance of the department of Treasury and Finance was also cited as a key concern. In particular the Department of Treasury and Finance has long been viewed as a barrier to funding public transport improvements despite the fact that improved public transport would provide a $6 billion economic boost for the state’s economy by 2030. For example the lack of full Treasury support for the Transit Cities program has meant that State Government investment has not been readily forthcoming to stimulate further development.
Likewise the lack of clear leadership from the State Government was also seen as a major barrier to improving Melbourne’s sustainability. For example the lack of State Government investment in fixed rail to activity centres sends a message to developers that the State Government is not genuinely serious about Melbourne 2030. Likewise the failure to provide a number of environmental initiatives within the Spencer Station redevelopment (particularly in regard to water management of runoff) provides the perception that the State Government is not too concerned about water management and conservation in new developments.
The Department of Sustainability of Environment (DSE) is to be commended for organising productive and proactive workshops in strengthening the sustainable framework guiding Victoria’s policies. The State Government must now ensure that this sustainable framework is incorporated into other portfolio areas, particularly to ensure an integration between land use and transport provision.