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IR Working Paper 1991/9
Stuart Harris, ‘Implementing Foreign Policy: The Environmental Challenge’, IR Working Paper 1991/9, Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, November 1991.
The environment has moved rapidly up the Australian foreign policy agenda in response to a growing acceptance that human society is changing the world environment. The assumptions about economic growth underlying Australia’s foreign policy in the past now have to be revised, and that policy must respond to increasing domestic interests on the environment. This paper looks at how Australia’s foreign policy is responding to the pressures that these changes involve. It looks first at some history, and the particular characteristics of international environmental issues. It then examines environmental considerations in each of the major areas of Australia’s national interest in its foreign policy: security; economic; maintenance of international order; and raising international standards. The paper points to special difficulties environmental issues pose in foreign policymaking and the need for innovative thinking by those involved. Finally, it points to a need for a level of international cooperation unprecedented in human history.