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September, 2020|Submissions & Reports

RDC Climate Initiative

The RDCs have a long history of collaboration and co-investment. We work with each other and our partners to deliver value and impact.

Climate change and variability is a brake on the agricultural sector. Individual industries have rightly invested to reduce their own exposure to climate risks. Through individual and joint investments the RDCs have supported industry to adaptBut the current pace of change is too slow. As a result our industries risk falling behind in the face of advancing climate change and volatility. We need a new approach with larger investments to make more significant progress. 

That’s why the RDC’s are developing a new Climate Initiative, a new co-investment program to foster thriving industries regardless of pressures from a variable and changing climate. Innovation will improve the resilience of Australian agriculture.

Areas of greatest potential

The RDC Climate Initiative is focusing on the best ideas for investment to deliver the most desirable, the most technically feasible and the most economically viable improvements. It’s an opportunity for the entire sector to share the rewards of targeted and coordinated research and innovation efforts. 

This initiative complements other actions by industries, markets, governments and consumers. Everyone is challenged by climate but actions by individuals and single organisations is not enough. The only solution is to work together.

We are taking a user-centred design approach to identify the best ideas for transformative change. This focus is a defining feature of the Initiative. It’s an experimental approach for investment in science and innovation at a grand scale. For the first time the RDCs have collectively applied a design-led process to develop of an end-to-end co-investment program

The journey so far

To get things underway we asked specialist facilitators Meld Studios to work with us and run a series of co-design workshops. Here’s an overview of who was involved in these discussions. The workshops unveiled a rich set of insights that we are using to plan out the next stages of work. We know that our tight timelines meant we didn’t always connect with people that we would like to have heard from. However, we are just getting started.

Participants identified 22 barriers and opportunities for addressing climate impacts. Our industry reference group helped us determine things we can work on now, what needs more exploration, insights that inform investment principles, and issues that are for others to act on.

Check out our Roadmap (screen version or this one if you want to be able to print it out) to find out more. Or you can download the Progress Report to the Council of Rural RDCs.  

Next steps

The Climate Initiative targets innovations that are desirable, feasible, viable and ethical. So far we have focused on what’s desirable. The next stage will explore feasibility and viability. Three initial opportunities will have full investment cases developed. The initial three investment cases are:

1. Taking an end user focused approach to predict and present climate impacts that can be easily understood and are easily accessed by primary producers
This will span farming, fishing and forestry across the whole country. It will highlight the more immediate challenges (within 10 years) for industries as well as the need to consider more substantive changes over the longer term (20 year and 50 year horizons).

2. Create a compelling and widely recognised baseline of all relevant production and environmental data.
Individual producers, communities, regions and whole industry value chains can demonstrate an active contribution to climate mitigation and adaptation.

3. Introduce a risk-based approach that identifies climate exposed inputs that impact multiple industries.
An initial example is reliability of energy supply at a regional level, other examples may include access to water for irrigation intensive industries and availability of labour.

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