Council serious about sustainability

Article image - Council serious about sustainability

The Clarence Valley Sustainability Initiative is a leadership action of Council that was adopted in March 2006. The Initiative provides the fundamental philosophy and tools to assist Council and staff to transparently meet its obligations under the Local Government Act.

The project commenced with the establishment of a cross sectional staff committee known as the S-Team. The role of the S-Team was to refine the project and undertake research with the assistance of consultants, Sustainable Futures.

In developing the Initiative, the team identified reports, studies and Environmental Impact Statements that had been undertaken in the Clarence Valley over the past 25 years. The community consultation work within these documents was then used to identify consistent themes, values and goals expressed by the community.

This work was presented back to the community through a forum process to ensure that the results were still relevant today.

The Clarence Valley Sustainability Initiative is a strategic document that fits between the Council Strategic Plan, which is currently under development, and the Management Plan.

The centrepiece of the Initiative is a Planning Web.

Embedding the structure of the Sustainability Initiative within the Management Plan and State of the Environment Report, as well as including sustainability assessments in monthly business papers, ensures that sustainability issues remain relevant and part of everyday business for Council.

All staff with responsibility for writing reports or policy have been trained in undertaking a Sustainability Assessment. Decision support tools have also been developed to assist and guide the program.

As a result there has been a fundamental change in the way Council does business and there has been a solid move towards creating an organisation with a culture of sustainability.

Council recently demonstrated its commitment to sustainability by signing the Local Government and Shires Association (LGSA) Mayors Agreement on Climate Change. This follows the Community Climate Challenge that was held as a pilot by the Nature Conservation Council. This program involved a commitment of 423 Clarence households, which replaced 31,000 light bulbs and saw a reduction of 19,000 tonnes of CO2.

The next major component of Council’s Sustainability Initiative is the development of a community based Strategic Plan, and a Sustainable Action Plan (SAP).

As a result of its work in this area, Clarence Valley Council took out the 2006/07 LGSA Excellence in the Environment Award for Sustainability.

The Sustainability Initiative is available online at www.clarence.nsw.gov.au