The climate risk project
The Climate Risk Project is an international study funded by the ANU Water Initiative (ANUWI) and led by CWEEP Research Associate Dr Daniell Connell. His team is investigating the management of climate risk in the world’s northern and southern temperate zones (southern Australia, southern Africa, south-west United States, the Mediterranean rim, China and South America). These regions all share high climatic variability, long histories of attempting to manage droughts and increasing exposure to the negative impacts of climate change. The aim is to build an international network of researchers interested in social and economic resilience and governance issues relevant to the management of droughts and adaptation to climate change.
The Climate Risk Project is also building links with policy makers and managers. Water policy and management practice is poorly documented and examined in the research literature and it will be essential to draw heavily on the knowledge of practitioners.
Drought is being used as the starting point for a wide ranging analysis. Extreme droughts reveal strengths and weaknesses that are hidden in less stressful times. Underlying political priorities, cultural values and the fundamental characteristics of technical and institutional systems are often most evident when contentious policies have to be implemented and choices made between competing demands. Using as a starting point the tensions created by drought the issues that are being investigated through The Climate Risk Project include the capacity to:
- act expeditiously in the face of crisis,
- base policy on good science,
- consult effectively with the wider community about contentious issues,
- manage across political borders,
- manage economic impacts and risks,
- negotiate compromises between competing interests, e.g. rural/urban, production/environment, upstream/downstream,
- influence factors in the wider catchment impacting on water quantity/quality,
- achieve compliance in contested situations,
- promote culture change which will support major reform programs
- take account of social justice and indigenous issues, and
- adapt to novel circumstances not envisaged when the relevant institutional framework was first negotiated.
The Drought – Past and Future conference, 14-15 November 2008, was the first stage of The Climate Risk Project. The conference presented some of the work relevant to the Australian region and discussed the themes to be investigated in the larger project. The project has also developed a database on drought Information which is a collection of both recent and historic work focusing on drought in Australia.