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Engagement across government sectors to inform a new Climate Change Science and Knowledge Plan for South Australia

Apr 26, 2019
Author: Goyder Institute


The Department for Environment and Water (DEW) is developing a Climate Change Science and Knowledge Plan for the South Australian Government to make sure the State has robust science, information and models to understand and address the impacts of a changing climate.

The new plan is being informed by the findings of a Goyder Institute for Water Research project that was commissioned by DEW. This involved a series of consultation workshops with more than 120 representatives from government sectors including health, infrastructure, primary production, emergency management, and natural resources.

The workshop series was designed to identify the climate information needs of the various sectors by gaining an understanding of the:

  • decisions being made in each sector to respond or adapt to climate change
  • current knowledge gaps and barriers to ‘climate-sensitive’ decisions
  • information types sectors most commonly seek and the highest priorities
  • issues preventing use of existing information,  e.g. is it inaccessible? Is it tailored for supporting decisions? does it require translation? Has it been communicated? Have users been engaged?’

The workshops identified a range of sector-specific climate change information gaps and research needs. Another key message that emerged from across the sectors was that much of the climatic and environmental information available was not easily accessible or required additional coordination and translation before it could be used effectively.

Other common information needs identified across the five sectors under study included:

  • improved discoverability, delivery and access to existing information
  • tailored information, particularly related to more sector-specific variables, such as the likely change in flood risk at specific locations
  • guidance on recommended standard datasets, projections, emission scenarios and model outputs to consider when planning adaptation measures, designing new infrastructure, or informing impact assessments
  • improved information on the change in occurrence of extreme weather events (including for concurrent events) that are relevant to multiple sectors
  • better mapping of where hazard prone areas occur for risks such as bushfire, flooding, storm surge and extreme heat, to guide development in such areas or ensure that new developments are designed such that potential risks can be effectively managed.

The need for capacity building and ongoing engagement to help sectors develop appropriate response measures was also a consistent message across the sectors.

These outcomes have been summarised in a Goyder Institute report and are guiding the preparation of the State Government’s Climate Change Science and Knowledge Plan, which is due for completion in 2019.

A follow-up workshop was held in early April with members of SA’s climate change research community, including representatives from Flinders University, The University of Adelaide, the University of South Australia, DEW, SARDI, CSIRO, SA Water and the Bureau of Meteorology. This was an opportunity for leading experts in climate change research to learn about the knowledge needs of different government sectors and provide their perspectives on where key knowledge gaps exist that affect climate change planning, adaptation and mitigation in SA. This information will also be summarised in a report in the near future.

This project is one of a suite of projects within the Goyder Institute’s Climate Action Impact Area, where the Institute is working to ensure SA’s sustainability by understanding climate change impacts, preparing systems to adapt, and providing accessible information.

The Institute’s projects have: 

  • developed downscaled climate projections covering South Australia’s regions (Climate Ready)
  • created tools to identify ways to address climate-related vulnerabilities in water systems (CRAFT)
  • identified opportunities for offsetting green-house gas (GHG) emissions (Carbon Offsets)
  • investigated the impact of coastal restoration, management, and human activities on the carbon offset potential of coastal habitats (Coastal–C and Salt to C)
  • explored the carbon offset potential of increasing soil organic carbon in clay-modified soils (Soil-C).

Contact Goyder Institute Director Dr Kane Aldridge for more information about research in our Climate Action Impact Area.