How resilient is Australia?

The future wellbeing of Australia depends on our country’s adaptive capacity and on how generally resilient our ecological and social systems are.

 
Resilience is a critical property that allows a country to prosper in a world in which the only certainty is ever increasing rates of change. Resilience provides some insurance for mistakes, allowing a country to explore its possible futures safely. Potential future thresholds facing Australia in coming decades relate to, for example:

Asia and Australia continent

  • major salinity and/or soil acidity problems in response to very wet periods and application of fertilisers respectively;
  • declines in rural, coastal and/or urban communities due to combined impacts of declining terms of trade, skills and labour shortages, prolonged droughts, increasing energy costs, collapses in some markets due to climate change, degraded infrastructure, and inappropriate attitudes and policy responses;
  • major social disruptions and deaths due to inability to cope with one or more disease pandemics; and
  • extinction of a number of native species that are at the edges of their environmental tolerances, in response to temperature and water shocks.

The future wellbeing of Australia depends on its ability to manage the kinds of shocks and non-return points identified in this project — either to avoid crossing them, or to be able to delay or ease the shocks. This ability depends on Australia’s adaptive capacity and on how generally resilient our ecological and social systems are.This report is a first attempt to explore how a national resilience assessment might be approached in Australia.

Download Resilience Discussion Paper 1
Cork, S, Walker, B & Buckley, R 2008, How Resilient is Australia?, Australia 21, Canberra.

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