Victoria has a complex yet robust decision making and environmental water management system in place, and, as with any system ensuring accountability is important.
To sustainably manage this resource, Victorian agencies must ensure that agreed water delivery programs are delivered effectively (water of the right quality is in the right place, at the right time, for the right volume and duration) and that the management programs are actually delivering improved environmental outcomes and associated cultural and socio-economic outcomes. There is an obligation to ensure that public funds invested are buying the outcomes which are expected by the community.
As such, Alluvium were engaged by the Office for the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability to develop a framework to evaluate and report on environmental watering outcomes in Victoria based on Sustainable Development Goals.
The framework and methodology delivered against Action 3.6 in Water for Victoria, and provides the means for an independent assessment of the Victorian approach to environmental water, commentary around its effectiveness in meeting agreed objectives, affording transparency of outcomes and allowing the Victorian government to advance its thinking and approach to managing the environment. Additionally, it outlined the approach to report against environmental watering as part of the State of Environment report.
A key feature of the framework is that it is underpinned by a conceptual model of environmental watering based on the ecosystem services framework and also the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This approach represents a re-frame of the understanding of environmental watering compared to what has previously been undertaken in Victoria or the Murray Darling Basin more generally.
It is hoped that this re-frame will help contribute to State of Environment reporting that is more meaningful for the Victorian community which in turn will lead to improvements in management of environmental watering – so that it more meaningfully contributes to sustainable development in Victoria.