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ESD Working Groups Process

Working Groups
Intersectoral Issues
Views on ESD


In June 1990 the Commonwealth Government released a discussion paper on ecologically sustainable development (ESD). Shortly afterwards it set up working groups to study how sustainable development would be applied to nine different industry sectors that were thought to use or have a significant impact on natural resources.

The establishment of the working groups was seen by some as an important attempt to break through the entrenched hostility and mistrust that has marked the environmental debate in Australia for several years. This standoff was seen by senior ministers as a serious barrier to both economic progress and environmental protection.

The sectors which the working groups were based on were:

  • agriculture
  • energy use
  • energy production
  • transport
  • mining
  • fisheries
  • forest use
  • tourism
  • manufacturing

The breakdown of sustainable development into industry sectors was widely criticised. Environmentalists and outside commentators felt that intersectoral issues; those that overlapped various industry sectors; were not properly dealt with because of the way the groups were divided up.

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© 2001 Sharon Beder