Australia maintains its position as a role model for environmentally sound operations in the Antarctic with the Australian Antarctic Division’s (AAD) environmental management system (EMS) being certified to the international standard.

“This is a very significant and exciting achievement — the Australian Antarctic Division is the first Antarctic agency to have its environmental management system certified,” Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the Antarctic, said today.

“Australian Antarctic Division officers have worked long and hard to get the system to this stage and will present a paper on how the system can improve environmental performance at the Antarctic Treaty international meeting in Madrid next year.”

The EMS formalises and strengthens existing environmental practices within the AAD, which had a substantial head-start due to the organisation’s long-standing efforts to achieve the government’s second goal for the Australian Antarctic program — to protect the Antarctic environment.

External auditors were impressed by the organisation’s genuine environmental ethic, noting the “clear sense of purpose” and “passionate environmental interest and knowledge” demonstrated by AAD staff.

Based on a dynamic cycle of “plan, implement, check and review”, the EMS provides a framework for achieving the organisation’s environmental objectives and commitments.

Following three days of auditing, the National Association of Testing Authorities Certification Services International (NCSI) concluded that the AAD’s EMS meets the exacting requirements of the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS ISO 14001. The audit involved consultation with staff at head office, at the AAD Cargo Facility, and teleconferences with personnel at the three Australian Antarctic research stations and the research station at sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island.