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Adapting to a changing climate

The 2020 Basin Plan Evaluation identified adapting to climate challenges and increasing resilience as one of the priority areas for the future. This follows on from a discussion paper on climate change released by the MDBA in February 2019.

The 2020 Basin Plan Evaluation included a number of recommendations to improve adaption to a changing climate and made a specific commitment in relation to the MDBA facilitating the increased collaboration of all stakeholders.

Basin Climate Resilience Summit

The 2020 Basin Plan Evaluation highlighted the need for greater collaboration and knowledge sharing to allow Basin communities to be more prepared for future climates. As a first step in working towards this, the MDBA hosted the Basin Climate Resilience Summit on 11-12 March 2021 in Canberra. We brought together leaders to share their climate adaptation knowledge and innovations to help supercharge the effort to help communities and the environment adjust to the impacts of climate change in the Murray–Darling Basin.

The summit was well-attended, and proved a useful event for leaders, many of whom will continue to communicate and collaborate with new connections for improved achievements in climate adaptation in the Basin. The discussions and outcomes from the summit are also helping to inform our ongoing efforts and investment in our climate adaptation work, and the ways the MDBA will work with and support others to achieve climate resilience in the Basin.

Invited leaders included organisations within or outside the Murray–Darling Basin who may have already made significant headway in building climate resilience within their sector. They also included key Basin groups with good standing and influence across communities and industry, given their reach and credibility. This was the first step in a long journey of collaborative work with organisations across the Basin. The numbers were kept limited and to those organisations identified as already active or able to share far and wide, to get the most out of the time together. From here, the MDBA will ensure all interested parties are kept informed and brought together as appropriate, as we continue to undertake planning and actions in climate adaptation for the resilience of the Basin.

Participating organisations at the Basin Climate Resilience Summit

  • Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)

  • ACT Government - Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development  

  • Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment  

  • Australian Rivers Institute  

  • Bureau of Meteorology  

  • Climate Change Authority  

  • Commonwealth Environmental Water Office  

  • Cotton Research and Development Corporation  

  • Council of Rural Research and Development Corporations  

  • CSIRO Land and Water  

  • Delta Stewardship Council (California, USA)  

  • South Australian Department for Environment and Water  

  • Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning  

  • New South Wales Department of Planning, Industry and Environment  

  • Queensland Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water 

  • EcoTourism Australia  

  • Environment Victoria  

  • Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority  

  • Grower Group Alliance  

  • Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation  

  • La Trobe University  

  • Landcare  

  • Murray Darling Association  

  • Murray–Darling Basin Authority  

  • Murray River Trails  

  • National Farmers' Federation  

  • National Irrigators' Council  

  • NRM Regions Australia  

  • Red Cross  

  • Rural Bank  

  • University of Southern Queensland  

Investing in improved knowledge

The MDBA is working with partners to improve our shared knowledge of how to best adapt to a changing climate. The CSIRO have developed a number of possible scenarios of what the impact of change could mean in real terms for the Basin and it’s environment.

The below figure shows the most likely scenario for the future climate of the Basin, based on the predictions of the CSIRO.

In recognition that more research is needed the Australian Government has invested $20 million into the Murray–Darling Water and Environment Research Program.  

The 4-year initiative will aim to strengthen scientific knowledge of the Murray–Darling Basin through the generation of new knowledge, innovation and tools across:

  • climate adaptation
  • hydrology
  • environmental outcomes
  • social, economic and cultural outcomes.

This research is designed to complement and add to the significant science investment already made by Basin states and Commonwealth agencies. Investing in science allows us to understand the possible impacts of the future climate, providing a foundation as our water planning and community adaptation efforts work towards a climate-resilient Basin.

Updated: 13 Apr 2021