Territory Stories

Ecologically sustainable development in the Darwin Harbour Region : review of governance frameworks



Ecologically sustainable development in the Darwin Harbour Region : review of governance frameworks

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Environment Protection Agency.


Environment Protection Agency (Northern Territory); Northern Territory. Department Of Lands, Planning And Environment


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT





Table of contents

Executive summary -- Introduction -- 1. Background -- 1.1 Terms of reference -- 1.2 Scope and structure of the review -- 1.3 Ecologically sustainable development and governance -- 1.4 Ecologically sustainable development, principles and criteria -- 1.5 The Darwin Harbour Region -- 2. Ecologically sustainable development in legislation, policies and plans -- 2.1 Strategic development and management -- 2.2 Land use -- 2.3 Minerals, extractive materials and petroleum -- 2.4 Ports -- 2.5 Pollution, waste and public health -- 2.6 Water -- 2.7 Fisheries and marine areas -- 2.8 Biodiversity, heritage and natural resource management -- 2.9 Environmental assessment -- 3. Discussion and findings -- 4. Advice.




Darwin Harbour -- Environmental aspects; Environmental management -- Northern Territory -- Darwin Harbour

Publisher name

Environment Protection Agency

Place of publication



vii, 59 p. : col. ills. ; 30 cm.

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Copyright owner

Environment Protection Agency



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49 3 Discussion and Findings Ecologically sustainable development (ESD) provides a common framework for integrating sectoral activities and development planning processes. Governance frameworks that are based upon the concept of ESD ensure accountable and transparent decision-making that considers and weighs up economic, social, cultural and environmental factors. Governance frameworks based on ESD recognise that there are trade-offs that need to occur in decision-making between economic, social, cultural and environment factors but ensure this occurs in a transparent manner and is based upon the most appropriate and accurate available information. In its advice to the Minister on ESD (provided in February, 2010) the EPA recommended that a common definition and principles of ESD be accepted for the Northern Territory and articulated through a Sustainability statement. This reflected the undertaking by the Northern Territory when becoming a signatory to the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment in 1992. The EPA recommended the statement include a commitment to develop appropriate governance frameworks to support the integration of the principles of ESD into the development of policy, legislation and regulation, to guide strategic and sustainable decision-making. The Minister is yet to respond to these recommendations. In undertaking this review on the existing governance systems that inform planning and development for Darwin Harbour, the EPA has used its powers to determine whether these systems are able to promote and facilitate decision-making based upon the principles of ESD, and accordingly are able to deliver sustainable outcomes and development for the harbour region. From this comprehensive analysis of the current level of integration across sectors, the EPA makes the following key findings: 1. An Overarching Governance Framework for the Darwin Harbour Region The layering of legislation, policy and strategies applicable to the Darwin Harbour region has resulted in a complex web of roles and responsibilities competing to set strategic direction and planning for development. This has resulted in ad hoc management and use of resources, and complex decision-making frameworks. The Darwin Harbour Strategy (endorsed by the Northern Territory Government in June 2010) and its predecessor, the Darwin Harbour Regional Plan of Management (2003), attempt to align applicable legislation, decision-making and strategic planning towards a common objective and goal and in doing so set the guidelines necessary to meet a common goal. The Darwin Harbour Advisory Committee has provided a consistent voice in promoting a coordinated and integrated approach to decision making, environmental management and protection in the Darwin Harbour region. The committee has successfully proposed for an integrated monitoring plan to be applied to Darwin Harbour (with the governance structure of this is yet to be finalised). It is commendable that a committee made up of community members has been able to achieve the first necessary steps towards integration through the Darwin Harbour Strategy. With the endorsement of the Darwin Harbour Strategy, the Northern Territory Government has committed to the annual reporting by its agencies against the strategy, as well as establishing and supporting an integrated monitoring plan for the harbour.