Natural resources and the environment

Australia is a country rich in natural resources, with unique ecosystems and heritage sites. Managing our environmental assets well is important to sustainability.

Governments have an important role in protecting and preserving our heritage; promoting innovations in environmental science, research and learning; and encouraging individuals, communities and industry to use resources more efficiently. Governments consult with communities to understand the impact of changes in land use on local amenity and cultural heritage. They also establish environmental safeguards. Agencies administer and enforce a system of permits and licences to manage waste, pollution, and hunting and fishing.

Strategies to improve energy efficiency are an important component of current environmental policies. This requires working across government and with households and businesses to encourage behaviour change through education, material and financial incentives. Grants to non-government organisations can support action on environmental issues. There are also recycling schemes at household and industry levels.

 


Project examples

Click on any of the following projects for more information.

Evaluation of the Circulate grant program

(NSW Environment Protection Authority, 2017)

Evaluation of the Circulate grant program

(NSW Environment Protection Authority, 2017)

Circulate is the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA) Industrial Ecology program, part of the Waste Less Recycle More (WLRM) initiative. The program funds consultants to act as facilitators to engage businesses in projects that divert waste from landfill. The aim of the program is to move businesses up the waste hierarchy, from waste disposal to recycling to reuse.

ARTD was contracted to evaluate the program, assessing the effectiveness of the current funding model and making recommendations for future program delivery. We used a mixed-methods approach, including analysis of existing outcomes data and a review of all program documentation, using a grants documents review framework and interviews with key stakeholders. The interviews provided rich qualitative data that enabled us to understand the way the program has been working and how improvements could be made going forward. The EPA is using the results of the evaluation to redesign the funding model and program delivery. 

Bin Trim Local Cluster Project Design

(Environmental Protection Authority, 2017)

Bin Trim Local Cluster Project Design

(Environmental Protection Authority, 2017)

The Bin Trim Program supports businesses to reduce their waste and increase recycling by delivering on-site business waste assessments and preparing action plans to change business practices. Funding for Bin Trim has recently been extended to 2021 under the EPA’s Waste Less Recycle More (WLRM) Initiative. In January 2017, ARTD was engaged by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to gather stakeholder feedback on new project designs for the Bin Trim Program. The purpose of the research project was to inform what type of new Bin Trim projects could be delivered to support business waste reduction and recycling. Over 30 telephone interviews were conducted with a range of stakeholders including local councils, Regional Organisations of Councils and business enterprise centres, as well as an online survey, to understand how these types of organisations can be supported and incentivised to deliver Bin Trim projects. The findings of this project will help inform the design of future rounds of the Bin Trim program.

Better Waste and Recycling Fund evaluation

(NSW Environment Protection Authority, 2017)

Better Waste and Recycling Fund evaluation

(NSW Environment Protection Authority, 2017)

The Better Waste and Recycling Fund (BWRF) funded by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), is part of the NSW Government’s Waste Less, Recycle More (WLRM) initiative, which is a waste and recycling funding package. The aim of the BWRF is to provide funding to councils in waste levy paying areas to deliver improved waste and recycling outcomes for their communities. ARTD was engaged to deliver a process evaluation of the BWRF with the purpose of assessing the effectiveness of the current design and delivery of the BWRF and suggesting recommendations for future improvement. A mixed methods approach was used to evaluate the BWRF, including an online survey of participating councils and regional groups as well as interviews with a sample of participants and EPA program managers of other related programs. A desktop review of the BWRF’s application and reporting templates was also completed against six criteria identified from the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet’s (DPC) Good Practice Guide for Grants Administration. Findings and recommendations helped the EPA improve the design of the BWRF program as part of the of the four years extension of the WLRM initiative.

NSW Local Government Climate Change adaptation survey

(Office of Environment and Heritage, 2015)

NSW Local Government Climate Change adaptation survey

(Office of Environment and Heritage, 2015)

In May 2015, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) in collaboration with Local Government NSW (LGNSW) contracted ARTD Consultants to design and implement an online survey of NSW Local Government, building on two previous surveys. The survey focused on councils’ needs in relation to climate adaptation and opportunities to assist them with minimising the impacts of climate change on NSW communities.

The online survey was implemented in June 2015, collecting 186 responses, which covered 74 per cent of all NSW councils. Compared to previous surveys, the 2015 survey achieved a significantly higher number of responses, ensuring a good response rate from a broad range of councils, across all State Planning Regions.

Results from the survey will help OEH and LGNSW refine the support and resources provided to councils about climate adaptation. The final report will get published on their website

Essential Environmental Measures for Australia programme

(Department of the Environment, 2015)

Essential Environmental Measures for Australia programme

(Department of the Environment, 2015)

This national program is using a partnership approach to develop agreed national performance indicators for environmental measures, including specifications and a plan to collect these and report regularly. ARTD prepared an evaluation and monitoring plan for the program, working with the internal team and other stakeholders in the Department to conceptualise the program theory of change and develop the evaluation plan. The iterative process involved firstly scoping interviews, reviewing documents and developing a program logic. Next we facilitated a workshop with the program team to refine the program logic and came to a shared understanding of the program and evaluation needs. A second workshop refined the final evaluation strategy, which is being used by the Department to guide evaluation and monitoring activities.

Australian Packaging Covenant monitoring and reporting

(Australian Packaging Covenant, 2011-16)

Australian Packaging Covenant monitoring and reporting

(Australian Packaging Covenant, 2011-16)

The Australian Packaging Covenant is the voluntary component of a co-regulatory model designed to reduce the environmental effects of consumer packaging, encourage improved design, increase recycling, and promote better stewardship of packaging. All signatories are required to report annually on progress towards Covenant targets. In 2011, ARTD was engaged to design a data collection framework and online system to support this requirement and have since supported annual reporting. The reporting system has allowed the Australian Packaging Covenant to monitor signatories' progress in meeting targets, and in developing resources to help them better plan and report on their initiatives.

Litter Prevention Strategy Monitoring and Evaluation Framework

(NSW Environmental Protection Authority, 2015)

Litter Prevention Strategy Monitoring and Evaluation Framework

(NSW Environmental Protection Authority, 2015)

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has engaged ARTD to design a monitoring and evaluation framework for the $20 million NSW Litter Prevention Strategy. ARTD consulted with key stakeholders to design an outcomes hierarchy and identify appropriate performance indicators and evaluation methods for the Strategy. The project will also build capacity for evaluation in two ways: through a one-day training session for EPA staff once the Framework is designed; and by ensuring the Framework is user-friendly to support adoption of monitoring and evaluation among EPA partners, in particular local councils.

Murray Darling Basin Environmental Water Knowledge and Research Project Evaluation Strategy

(Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre, 2015)

Murray Darling Basin Environmental Water Knowledge and Research Project Evaluation Strategy

(Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre, 2015)

The Murray-Darling Basin Environmental Water Knowledge and Research project is a five-year collaborative research project to improve the knowledge base for managing environmental water in the Basin. ARTD is currently designing the evaluation strategy for the project on behalf of the Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre, which is coordinating the whole project for the Australian Department of Environment. The project involved two rounds of stakeholder consultation to develop the evaluation strategy, including a program logic and detailed evaluation work plan for the two phases of the project.

Evaluation of the behaviour change trials of the Home Power Savings Program

(Office of Environment and Heritage, 2014)

Evaluation of the behaviour change trials of the Home Power Savings Program

(Office of Environment and Heritage, 2014)

The Home Power Savings Program, established in 2010, supported 225,214 low-income households in NSW to reduce their power usage and save on energy bills by providing participants with a home power assessment, a tailored action plan, and a kit of energy-saving items. Based on the recommendations of ARTD’s interim evaluation, the Office of Environment and Heritage introduced a behaviour change trial to the program in June 2013 to test methods that could support greater outcomes for participants. The trial, designed with BehaviourWorks at Monash University and the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet’s  Behavioural Insights Team (seconded from the UK Cabinet Office), used three key triggers identified in the behaviour change literature—commitment, social norms and loss aversion—to try to improve participants’ implementation of tips in their power saving action plans. New participants were randomly allocated to one of three types of follow-up—second home visit, phone call or SMS—or no follow-up.

ARTD’s evaluation of the trial drew on ratings of assessors’ use of behaviour change techniques, an after-treatment survey (administered through computer-assisted telephone interviewing) of 2,207 participants, 8 focus groups, 8 case studies, participant data analysis and costing analysis. The evaluation provided a robust assessment of the impact of different types of follow-up compared with no follow-up and the use of behaviour change techniques. The findings inform the design of similar programs with a behaviour change component.

Review of Renewable Energy Precinct Program

(NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, 2013)

Review of Renewable Energy Precinct Program

(NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, 2013)

The Renewable Energy Precinct Program was a community partnership initiative in six precincts across NSW. A Renewable Energy Coordinator was allocated to each precinct to engage with local communities, facilitate stakeholder engagement, and help to drive regional initiatives to ‘enhance knowledge, understanding, and uptake’ of renewable energy sources. ARTD reviewed appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency of the Program. The review used a mixed-methods approach, which maximised the use of existing data (program documentation, web analytics, cost data). Other methods were interviews with Program staff and stakeholders across the state, and an online survey of stakeholders from the six precincts. The positive findings informed decision-making about future directions for the Program. It was retained as part of the NSW Renewable Energy Action Plan released by the NSW Government in September 2013.

Evaluation of NSW Natural Resources Management Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Strategy's Program Performance Priority

(NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, 2013)

Evaluation of NSW Natural Resources Management Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Strategy's Program Performance Priority

(NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, 2013)

The NSW Natural Resources Management Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Strategy 2010–15 guides the monitoring, evaluation and reporting of natural resources in NSW. The strategy focuses on developing a seamless link between local, regional, state and national data on natural resource management that will inform the community about how the natural resources of NSW are cared for. ARTD was commissioned to conduct an independent evaluation to review progress in implementing the Strategy’s Program Performance Priority and its effectiveness in a two-month timeframe. We used a desktop review and consultation with key informants from partner agencies. The final report identified progress made and areas for improvement. The evaluation informed the future of Natural Resources Management Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting.