A Public Lecture on “Environmental Governance and Democracy”

On Friday, September 23rd, 2022, 13.00 – 15.00

By King Prajadhipok’s Institute and The Cairns Institute, James Cook University

Keynote remarks on “Australia’s Regulation Strategy: Trend in Environmental Governance and Democracy”

Prof. Stewart Lockie, Director, The Cairns Institute, James Cook University

Talking about environmental governance and democracy has a similar meaning with talking about environmental politics. Governance has rules and regulations for every issue that are important to be reviewed. It can be defined as an approach that combines any aspects such as politics and economy without forgetting the rule of environment and people. 

We can’t deny that nowadays, the nation state is not the only one actor to implement what is environmental governance. People from the diverse group within society, from individuals into a group or from the local into international are the actors. Looking from this perspective, democracy is a way to increase the role of society to make environmental regulations.

There are trends in environmental governance such as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda from the United Nations, another way to maintain the private sector and make hybrid regulations, make “Standards-based” regulations and spread awareness about market instruments to make it more maximum.

In line with the sustainable development agenda, Prof. Stewart mentions the core principles to reach this be known. First is universality that means this agenda should be applicable in all contexts, times and countries. Second is leaving no one behind or it should be able to reach every person in every condition. Third is interconnectedness and indivisibility or all of the entities responsible to implement this agenda. Fourth is inclusiveness and last is multi-stakeholder partnerships from the government, society, expertise, or technology and financial resources.

There are several types of policy regulatory instruments such as self regulation and co regulation. It should be known as an ability to control themselves. For example, private retailer food standard GLOBALG.A.P and conservation agreements such as land for wildlife.  Another one is support and capacity building, for example agricultural extension services. Third is information-based instruments, for example emission inventories. Fourth is economic instruments such as taxes, levies, other charges, for example emission charges. Last one is direct or command and control regulation, for example water quality standards.

Looking from the environmental aspects, the government should make the regulations responsive, which means it’s important to make the regulation be able to conduct what people and environment seek.

To implement these responsive regulations, Australian Environmental Regulatory Agencies have applied “The Regulatory Pyramid”. This pyramid is a strategy to make the society have responsibility to comply with the rules and regulations. The lowest part of the pyramid is voluntary compliance, followed by self regulation, enforced self regulation with being shamed, standards with discretionary punishment, the sanctions are about civil penalties. The highest part is mandatory standards with criminal penalties.

Another one to be mentioned is standard classifications that have product standards, production standards, performance standards and process standards. It’ll contain some key points from the essential characteristics, specific management practices, the conditions and also implementation of approved management systems.

One of the Australian government’s commitments to the environmental issue is the implementation of the National Water Initiative on 25th June 2004. This agreement committed the Australian government to make and comply with the comprehensive water planning, improving water accounting, ensuring the price of access to water reflected the cost of the government to provide it, expanding markets for water trading and minimizing risks to water resources.

The important part of environmental democracy is don’t objectify the environment itself. Environment is a subject that can influence every human life. That’s the part of SDGs and its goals to raise the other aspects of life, not only about developing infrastructure and economy but also raising awareness about environment and social issues.


Putri Citra Pratama (Internship Student at KPI)

Universitas Islam Indonesia

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