Page 1

Managing Australian landscapes and natural resources — design principles for intelligent research investment Andrew Campbell Triple Helix Consulting

Outline 1. The intent of this conference 2. Drivers for ‘big picture’, integrated NRM research 3. The funding and management of applied R&D – lessons from LWRRDC and LWA

1. Design principles for intelligent research investment

For more information e.g. The Getting of Knowledge Paddock to Plate Policy Propositions for Sustainable Food Systems & Background Paper

Powerful Choices: towards a biofuel economy with Barney Foran

Climate Change Primer for regional NRM Managing Australian Soils


The intent of this conference • A content-rich celebration of an important knowledge legacy • An opportunity to reflect, and to distil key lessons and insights

– about important knowledge gaps that remain – about how best to fill such knowledge gaps

• A ‘message in a bottle’ for future research investment

2. Drivers for ‘big picture’, integrated NRM research • • • • • • •

Climate Water Energy Food Resource degradation Competition for land & water resources Risks of collateral damage and unintended consequences

Climate The core problem: population & carbon emissions

Source: WBCSD & IUCN 2008; Harvard Medical School 2008


Water • Each calorie takes one litre of water to produce, on average • Like the Murray Darling Basin, all the world’s major food producing basins are effectively ‘closed’ or already over-committed


Food • The world needs to increase food production by about 70% by 2050, & improve distribution • We have done this in the past, mainly through clearing, cultivating and irrigating more land – and intensification, better varieties, more fertiliser, pesticides etc

• Climate change is narrowing those options, with limits to water, land, energy & nutrients • Concern among rich consumers about modern industrial food systems – human health, animal welfare, environment, fair trade



But maybe we ain’t seen nothin yet….



Energy & nutrients • The era of abundant, cheap fossil fuels is coming to a close


• Rising oil costs = rising costs for fertiliser, agri-chemicals, transport and food


Energy (2) “ a significant risk of a peak in conventional oil production before 2020. The risks presented by global oil depletion deserve much more serious attention by the research and policy communities.” UK Energy Research Centre, An assessment of the evidence for a near-term peak in global oil production, August 2009

“we have to leave oil before oil leaves us, and we have to prepare ourselves for that day” Dr Fatih Birol, Chief Economist IEA, 3 August 2009 “The challenge of feeding 7 or 8 billion people while oil supplies are falling is stupefying. It’ll be even greater if governments keep pretending that it isn’t going to happen.” 12

George Monbiot, The Guardian 16.11.09

Resource Degradation





Perspectives from the top (1) Terry Moran, Institute of Public Administration, 15 July 2009: Reflecting on the challenges of public sector reform:

“ By and large, I believe the public service gives good advice on incremental policy improvement. Where we fall down is in longterm, transformational thinking; the big picture stuff. We are still more reactive than proactive; more inward than outward looking. We are allergic to risk, sometimes infected by a culture of timidity…. The APS still generates too much policy within single departments and agencies to address challenges that span a range of departments and agencies… We are not good at recruiting creative thinkers. ” 17

Perspectives from the top (2) Dr Ken Henry, QUT Business Leaders’ Forum, 22 October 2009: “Are Australia’s natural resource endowments, including water, capable of sustaining a population of 35 million? What are the implications for environmental amenity of this sort of population growth? Must it mean an even greater loss of biodiversity…? …with a population of 22 million people, we haven’t managed to find accommodation with our environment. Our record has been poor and in my view we are not well placed to deal effectively with the environmental challenges posed by a population of 35 million.” 18

Perspectives from the top (3) Dr Ken Henry, QUT Business Leaders’ Forum, 22 October 2009: “…substantial additional investment, in both private and public infrastructure, economic and social, will be required to support our larger human population. … quite sophisticated infrastructure planning is going to be required… …the imposition of a price signal to reflect the negative externalities of greenhouse gas emissions is intended to cause a significant shift in the structure of the Australian and global economies over coming decades; quite possibly the largest structural adjustment in economic history. That is the point of doing it. ” 19

Perspectives from the top (4) Kevin Rudd, Westminster Abbey, 31 March 2009, suggesting that the free market needs a moral compass: “To these values of security, liberty and prosperity must also be grafted the values of equity, of sustainability and community.”

Equity, Sustainability and Community…

Scaffolding values for a 21st century NRM agenda? 20

Water, energy, and GDP Water and energy have historically been closely coupled with GDP in Australia

Energy & GDP

Water & GDP

Our challenge now is to radically reduce the energy, carbon and water-intensity of our economy

from Proust, Dovers, Foran, Newell, Steffen & Troy (2007)


Climate-water-energy feedbacks • Saving water often uses more energy, and viceversa • Efforts to moderate climate often use more energy +/or water • E.g. coal-fired power stations with CCS will be 25-33% more waterintensive

• Using more fossil energy exacerbates climate chaos

from Proust, Dovers, Foran, Newell, Steffen & Troy (2007)


Profound technical challenges 1. To decouple economic growth from carbon emissions 2. To increase water productivity —

decoupling the 1 litre per calorie relationship

1. To increase energy productivity – –

more food energy out per unit of energy in while shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy

1. To develop more sustainable food systems – –

while conserving biodiversity and improving landscape amenity, soil health, animal welfare & human health

1. To achieve all of the above simultaneously! 23

— improving equity, sustainability and community…

We need a third agricultural revolution • Closed loop farming systems, not leaking: (water, energy, nutrients, carbon, biodiversity) • Smart metering, sensing, telemetry, robotics, guidance • Better understanding of soil carbon & microbial activity • Radically reducing waste in all parts of the food chain • Farming systems producing renewable bioenergy (2nd generation) 24

“Carbon plus” wool, beef and sheep meat



Transition to carbon-neutral, energy-positive rural landscapes


Forestry integrated with farming vs replacing farming


Forestry integrated with farming vs replacing farming

29 29

We need a third AG/NRM revolution (2) • Urban food production, recycling waste streams & urban water • New/old food marketing systems, with detailed product specification • ‘Carbon plus’ offsets and incentives • Juicier carrots and smarter sticks (especially for biodiversity) • Integrated regional land use planning: infrastructure, transport, water, energy, bushfires, food, waste, carbon, biodiversity, landscape amenity, communications etc – Robust against steeply rising price scenarios: energy, carbon and water 30

SO… • the integrated landscape science agenda is huge • it has profound social, economic and biophysical dimensions • it extends across many policy portfolios and all levels of government • it demands national oversight and coordination (without stifling local/regional innovation) 31

3. The funding and management of applied R&D — lessons from LWRRDC and LWA • Acknowledgments

– EDs, directors, staff , coordinators, partners, end-users

• Knowledge 101 • Characteristics of applied R&D • Crucial capabilities and processes for professional research investment & management

Knowledge 101 •

Knowledge happens between the ears

An individual cognitive process and highly contextual: – “I only know what I know when I need to know it”

Revealed in artifacts (writing, art, formulae, products etc), skills, experience, rules of thumb and natural talent (Dave Snowden)

Across quite different domains:

– Including local, Indigenous, scientific, strategic (organisational)

And different sectors: – research, policy, management, planning, extension, education, monitoring

people default to known, trusted, accessible sources: – credibility, dialogue, easy access & honesty all critical – timing is crucial: knowledge is most useful when it is needed


Knowledge From a public policy perspective, there are three main reasons to invest in knowledge:


To help us make better decisions & policy


To underpin the innovation process


So that we can learn as we go along — in the words of Peter Cullen: “at least we should be making new mistakes”


Applied R&D ABS defines four types of research: pure basic; strategic basic; applied; and developmental Applied research: “seeks to acquire new knowledge with a specific application in view” • We know the application context • We know the intended end-users & beneficiaries • We can tease out the nature of the knowledge need • We can identify prospective adoption pathways • We can predict adoptability, and measure impact and ROI


Crucial capabilities and processes • • • • • • • • • •

Strategic planning Getting the questions right — scanning and scoping Prioritisation Portfolio planning and management Research procurement Research governance Research design at project and program level Managing knowledge for adoption Evaluation: project, program and portfolio levels Knowledge legacy and knowledge management

4. Design principles for intelligent research investment •

Long institutional memory and outlook

Mandate and Governance

Capabilities in people, systems and processes

Explicit investment in strategic, formative evaluation

Stakeholder/end user engagement — without capture

A collaborative, partnership-oriented institutional culture


Some components of the Australian NRM Knowledge System


Australian Bureau of Statistics

Horticulture Australia

Community Landcare groups

Geoscience Australia

Regional NRM Bodies

Universities Australian Pork Limited

Meat and Livestock Australia

Knowledge Generation and Management

Australian Wool Innovation

•E-Water •Future Farm Industries •Irrigation Futures •Invasive Animals •Cotton Catchment Communities •Desert Knowledge •Sustainable Forest Landscapes •Spatial Information •CARE

Legend Departments of State (FMA Act) Statutory Agencies (FMA Act) within portfolios


Bureau of Rural Sciences

Statutory Agencies (CAC Act) within portfolios Corporatised R&D Corporations (Statutory Funding Agreement) Funding Programs

Commercial Advisory Services

Commercial Farmers

Cooperative Research Centres

Dairy Australia

Water Authorities

Knowledge Adoption

Hobby Farmers Indigenous Communities

Indigenous Land Corporation

Local Governments

Australian Govt NRM Facilitators

State NRM & Ag Agencies



Water Smart Australia National Landcare Program

Caring for our Country

National Water Commission Productivity Commission

Policy and Programs National Water Initiative


Water for the Future

Rural residential

Why use dedicated CAC Act agencies? Compared with CAC Act agencies set up to fund and manage R&D, policy agencies/branches/sections under the FMA Act struggle to be intelligent purchasers of R&D because: – they perform a wide range of roles other than research management; – the FMA Act makes multi-year $ and commercial partnerships more difficult; – staff turnover undermines continuity, cohesion, credibility and corporate memory; – they find it difficult to train and retain sufficient staff in R&D or KM roles; – they lack specialised R&D project and contract management systems; – they lack dedicated outreach systems to extend research outputs (especially if results contradict the policies of the government of the day); – they find it difficult to manage knowledge legacy issues; – evaluation processes oriented to accountability within particular programs,

A thought experiment

—what might the application of these principles look like? • A Water, Energy & Land (WEL) R&D Corporation? • A Sustainability Commission with a research mandate? – sister agency to the Productivity Commission? – or an expansion of its mandate? – or completely independent and whole of government, like the New Zealand Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment?

• Much greater capacity for national leadership, coordination and management of the NRM knowledge system – To direct research priorities and resources • Common reporting framework across all jurisdictions and agencies

– To ensure sufficient critical mass on the big, cross-cutting issues – To build capacity strategically in critical areas (people and systems) – To make data, information and knowledge assets more transparent and accessible, and manage them better through time

Take home messages

For more information e.g. The Getting of Knowledge Paddock to Plate Policy Propositions for Sustainable Food Systems & Background Paper

Powerful Choices: towards a biofuel economy with Barney Foran

Climate Change Primer for regional NRM Managing Australian Soils


Managing Australian landscapes and natural resources— design principles ...  

A content-rich celebration of an important knowledge legacy An opportunity to reflect, and to distil key lessons and insights about importan...