State and Benefit: Emerging Trends in Environmental Reporting

Dr Scott Rawlings1

1Office Of The Commissioner For Environmental Sustainability, Melbourne, Australia


State and benefit: emerging trends in environmental reporting

The Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability (Victoria) provides independent advice and reports on the state of the natural environment to inform environmental policy and practice in Victoria.

This paper provides not only a historical perspective on the progress of environmental reporting in Victoria from conventional DPSIR reporting to a more sophisticated MLE approach which embraces different ways of “knowing” and different models for accessing our information on the environment. It also places Victoria in the broader context of international environmental reporting trends and demonstrates that a key strategy of environmental reporting should be negotiating the important shift from what we do know, to what we need to know.

The Commissioner’s State and Benefit framework was tabled in the Victorian Parliament in December 2015. The Framework authorises the reform of environmental reporting in Victoria and advocates for:

  • digital technologies
  • citizen science
  • environmental-economic accounts
  • the alignment of statutory environmental reporting obligations
  • a broadening of indicators beyond the biophysical to align with the reporting requirements of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and
  • a shift towards management effectiveness reporting.

The State of the Bays 2016 was the first report produced under the Framework. Released in multiple formats in December 2016 – both conventional and digital – the reporting products enabled accessibility for a much broader audience than ever before. Action on the recommendations from this report is already underway within government.


Dr Scott Rawlings is the Head of Science and Research for the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Victoria. He has worked for the Office since 2010.

Previously, Scott had worked in numerous roles across the environment portfolio including greenhouse policy, indigenous policy, and natural resource management. Scott managed the Land & Biodiversity White Paper implementation and research and development for the former Department of Sustainability and Environment – focussing on procurement, partnerships, knowledge exchange and the research-policy interface. Scott has a PhD in environmental studies.