A NSW Government website

Conflicts of interest


What a conflict of interest means

A conflict of interest is a conflict between a person’s private or business interests and the performance of their official duties and responsibilities. It may take the form of an actual, perceived or potential conflict of interest and occur where a reasonable person perceives the existence of a conflict. 

For an accredited assessor, it is the perception that their responsibilities are influenced by their own, or a third party’s, interests. This includes the application of the Biodiversity Assessment Method and preparing Biodiversity Assessment Reports.

Biodiversity Assessment Reports are:

  • Biodiversity Development Assessment Reports
  • Biodiversity Stewardship Site Assessment Reports
  • Biodiversity Certification Assessment Reports. 

Conflicts of interest may arise in relation to private interests, close personal relationships, business relationships or previous Biodiversity Offsets Scheme and non-Biodiversity Offsets Scheme-related work.

The Code of Conduct includes a specific obligation on assessors

The accredited assessor Code of Conduct states that an assessor 'must not act in circumstances where there is actual, perceived or potential conflict of interest'. When deciding if there is any conflict of interest, questions to be asked include:

  • Will I or anyone I am associated with benefit from or be detrimentally affected by me carrying out a project?
  • Could there be benefits in future that could influence my objectivity? 
    This could include things like earning capacity, future employment and gains for friends or associates.
  • Do I have debts to any of the parties or associates of the parties, or commitments to parties?
  • Could my association with one client involve a conflict of interest with another client I have? If the answer is yes, potentially yes or there could be a reasonable perception that these cases apply then a conflict of interest should be managed.

Managing conflict of interest

A conflict of interest does not indicate impropriety, but it does have to be managed.  Accredited assessors must follow the Code of Conduct and are responsible for managing any conflicts of interest. There are various strategies for managing conflicts of interest. Some examples include: 

  • full disclosure to clients and approving authorities
  • ‘separation of duties’ 
  • contracting an independent third party to review or complete parts of the work.

We recommend that a section addressing any conflicts of interest is added to Biodiversity Assessment Reports.