The role of RDE and CCRSPI - Michael Robinson


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  • There is no valid scientific argument to the contrary, and there is increasing evidence of the predicted changes: increased temperatures, changed rainfall patterns and increases in frequency and intensity of extreme events including, storms, cyclones, droughts, high heat days, and snow storms that we’ve all seen played out on our TV screens in the last decade, and particularly so in the last year. Conference not about climate change, but about our responses to it.
  • In addition, the rest of the world has slipped behind the challenge of dealing with climate change if we are to avoid dangerous climate change. Uncertainty - IPCC
  • We have long been known as the lucky country, and indeed we are. We are blessed with abundant and varied natural resources, a highly educated population, are very secure society, with a stable and transparent political system, and a strong innovation system. Indeed in 2010, we were 7 th in world economic competitiveness ( Institute for Management Development) and in 2009, we were the 13th largest national economy by nominal GDP (Wikepedia, 2011) All this means, my kids are some of the most privileged kids in the world. These are the lucky ones: they don’t have a clue what is like to go without good food, clean water, a good house, good medical facilities, a good education system, and abundant opportunities as they grow. And herein lies a challenge – we’ve got it good, so what’s the problem, why would we change?
  • Do Australian’s really understand this? Or the scale of the problem that exists?
  • FAO estimates that globally, 925 million people were undernourished in 2010. This is about 13% of the world’s population, or in other words about 1 person in 7 that doesn’t have access to enough safe and nutritious food. As you can see, most were in developing nations. Australia doesn’t rate a mention.
  • In the last three years we have seen a spate of ‘food riots’ across the world, peaking in the middle of 2008, and not least the recent events in Egypt being driven by food availability concerns resulting in the first successful people led internet revolution. Paul Krugman is a Nobel prize-winning economist, goes on to predict there is more to come, not least because of climate change …
  • we have enjoyed food security for long time we produce enough for nearly three times our population, and could produce more And therefore food security doesn’t APPEAR as if it is going to be a problem for decades to come. In other words, for the vast majority of Australians: ‘food security - so what!’, there is no burning platform for change, and no burning platform means no political priority. By and large Australian can get all the food they want from the supermarket shelf, whenever they want.
  • Represent ! Neville Nicholls woke up to witness the horror of Black Saturday 2 years ago, and immediately blamed himself for not better communicating the dangers of climate change, for not being an advocate of his work, not I hasten to add to advocate a particular policy response, rather to raise awareness, explain, and defend the science).
  • Strategy is where are we going Database is where are we now Analysis of gaps and opportunities is about going from where we are now to where we want to be
  • Note that three of the six themes in the CCRSPI RDE strategy were around communication: - Accessing information - Facilitating change - Linking decision makers
  • Australia is a lucky country, but getting left behind.
  • The role of RDE and CCRSPI - Michael Robinson

    1. 1. The Role of RDE and the Climate Change Research Strategy for Primary Industries <ul><li>Dr Michael Robinson </li></ul><ul><li>CCRSPI </li></ul><ul><li>Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre </li></ul>
    2. 2. <ul><li>The evidence is clear, and consistent with theory and the models. </li></ul><ul><li>''It's a no-brainer. If you go over the last couple of decades you see tens of thousands of papers in the peer-reviewed literature, and you have less than 10 that challenge the fundamentals - and they have been disproved ... Right now, this almost infantile debate about whether 'is it real or isn't it real?', it's like saying, 'Is the Earth round or is it flat?’.” </li></ul><ul><li>Professor Steffen said after an address at the Australian Davos Connection's Future Summit, The Age </li></ul>Climate Change
    3. 3. <ul><li>“ Australia has slipped further behind the world in dealing with climate change” </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Professor Ross Garnaut, Feb 2, as reported ABC Radio </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>( … and the rest of the world is behind already!) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(other than it being a diabolical problem!) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scientific ‘uncertainty’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The lucky country </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Food production and climate variability </li></ul></ul>Challenges and opportunities
    4. 4. Australia – the lucky country …
    5. 5. <ul><li>“ Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” </li></ul>Food security
    6. 7. <ul><li>“ We’re in the midst of a global food crisis – the second in three years … an important trigger for popular rage … </li></ul><ul><li>… t he evidence does, in fact, suggest that what we're getting now is a first taste of the disruption, economic and political, that we will face in a warming world” </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Paul Krugam, The Age, Feb 8, 2011 </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>Food crisis
    7. 8. UK Ministry of Defence threat assessment, 2008
    8. 9. <ul><li>“ The likelihood of a food crisis directly affecting the Australian population may appear remote given that we have enjoyed cheap, safe and high quality food for many decades and we produce enough food today to feed 60 million people.” </li></ul><ul><li>PMSEIC (2010). Australia and Food Security in a Changing World. The Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council, Canberra, Australia </li></ul>
    9. 10. <ul><li>In a land of drought and flooding rains … </li></ul><ul><li>“ Australia produces enough food to feed about 60 million people … </li></ul><ul><li>produces almost 93 per cent of Australia’s daily domestic food supply ... </li></ul><ul><li>exports 60 per cent (in volume) of total agricultural production ... </li></ul><ul><li>feeds some 40 million people each day outside Australia ...” </li></ul><ul><li>PMSEIC (2010). Australia and Food Security in a Changing World. </li></ul><ul><li>The Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council, Canberra, Australia </li></ul>Food production
    10. 11. <ul><li>We’ve farmed successfully for decades </li></ul><ul><li>We’ve always had hard conditions </li></ul><ul><li>We’ve always had variable seasons </li></ul><ul><li>We don’t see climate change, just more variability </li></ul><ul><li>We don’t want to know about 2030 or 2050, tell me about the next week, the next season, the next 12 months … </li></ul><ul><li>But, we do see increasing inputs costs that we can’t pass on </li></ul>The farmer perspective (?)
    11. 12. <ul><li>An urban population that is largely ambivalent as food security and climate change hasn’t impacted them directly </li></ul><ul><li>Rural stakeholders who experience highly variable climate on an annual basis where the majority of decisions are made </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific uncertainty ≠ public uncertainty </li></ul><ul><li>Our politicians who have a ‘diabolical problem’ to address </li></ul>The perception challenge
    12. 13. <ul><li>Increase food production – a responsibility and an opportunity </li></ul><ul><li>Exporting know how – a responsibility and an opportunity </li></ul><ul><li>Exporting scientific capacity – an opportunity </li></ul><ul><li>We should build on our ‘third world’ conditions and first world research and be the world’s centre of excellence! </li></ul>Opportunity for Australia
    13. 14. <ul><li>Represent! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We know the dangers ahead so we have a responsibility to represent our (quality) science to achieve change </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Understand! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Our end-users, especially the importance of climate variability </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Deliver! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Efficient, effective , integrated and quality RDE </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to support climate-resilient, productive, environmentally and socially sustainable landscapes </li></ul></ul>Role of science community …
    14. 15. The Agricultural and Science agenda Productivity research Genetics, disease, nutrition, irrigation, production systems Climate Change response research Methane reduction, nitrous oxide reduction, soil carbon adaptation National Research Agenda Funding Industry and governments Agricultural productivity National responsibilities
    15. 16. The Agricultural and Science agenda National Research Agenda Industry and governments Agricultural profitability and national responsibilities Productivity and climate change research After Barlow, 2010
    16. 17. <ul><li>Towards more efficient and effective research, development and extension to address the challenges and opportunities of climate change for primary industries in Australia ... </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborating, coordinating and communicating … </li></ul><ul><li>… working together on climate change … </li></ul>CCRSPI …
    17. 18. <ul><li>An updated national cross-sectoral RDE strategy: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Towards climate-resilient, productive, environmentally and socially sustainable landscapes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A national database of RDE activity </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis of gaps and development of opportunities </li></ul>Deliverables
    18. 19. <ul><li>Note: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>we don’t direct agencies … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We don’t fund research </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Communication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A central hub, for you to use, linked with PIARN ( </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Represent Primary Industries RDE </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Knowledge exchange, at multiple levels, at multiple times </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conferences, workshops, stakeholder interactions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Work cross-sectoral, integrated </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Themes not aligned to sectors or disciplines </li></ul></ul>How
    19. 20. <ul><li>The global picture, the food challenges, the vision for agriculture. </li></ul><ul><li>Unpicking the policy environment. </li></ul><ul><li>How can we do RDE better? </li></ul><ul><li>Where are we at? Where do we need to go? </li></ul><ul><li>Sharing the science </li></ul><ul><li>Listening to our producers </li></ul><ul><li>Communicating with the broader public </li></ul>The Conference
    20. 21. <ul><li>We have a moral obligation to represent our science strongly to ensure a rapid response. </li></ul><ul><li>Science has been the basis for our productivity gains, and will be in the future. </li></ul><ul><li>Our science must be more efficient and effective, of the highest quality, with a greater emphasis on the integrated landscape and the social and environmental dimensions of sustainable production. </li></ul><ul><li>CCRSPI will work to improve the national RDE effort by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Providing an RDE vision and strategy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enhancing collaboration and co-ordination by exchanges of knowledge </li></ul></ul>The role of RDE and CCRSPI