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Connecting the Australian desert to the rest of the world Mark Stafford Smith, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems (DK-CRC Science of Desert Living project) Desert.

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Presentation on theme: "Connecting the Australian desert to the rest of the world Mark Stafford Smith, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems (DK-CRC Science of Desert Living project) Desert."— Presentation transcript:

1 Connecting the Australian desert to the rest of the world Mark Stafford Smith, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems (DK-CRC Science of Desert Living project) Desert Knowledge Symposium, 4 th Nov 2008 On Arrernte country

2 2 Where Im going Understanding the drivers –What makes the desert different also creates its needs and opportunities Connecting –To Australia to deal with desert Australia better –Responding to the deserts comparative advantages For business opportunities & to benefit other regions –In a global deserts (remote areas?) alliance

3 3 LIMITED LIVELIHOODS: Lack of diverse small business and livelihood options SCARCE CAPITAL: Low levels of financial, physical and human investment SOCIAL UNCERTAINTY: Unpredictability in or lack of control over markets, labour, policy LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Limited research, local/traditional knowledge more important CULTURAL DIFFERENCES: Particular types of people, cultures and institutions CLIMATE VARIABILITY: Variability and extremes in primary drivers (rainfall, other weather) SCARCE RESOURCES: Widespread low soil fertility and patchy natural resources SPARSE POPULATION: Sparse, mobile and patchy human population REMOTENESS: Distant markets, business, political centres, mental models Recognising the Desert Syndrome Stafford Smith (2008) Rangeland Journal 30: 3-14 Science of Desert Living Connecting #1: have these factors better understood by the rest of Australia

4 4 LIMITED LIVELIHOODS: Lack of diverse small business and livelihood options SCARCE CAPITAL: Low levels of financial, physical and human investment SOCIAL UNCERTAINTY: Unpredictability in or lack of control over markets, labour, policy LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Limited research, local/traditional knowledge more important CULTURAL DIFFERENCES: Particular types of people, cultures and institutions CLIMATE VARIABILITY: Variability and extremes in primary drivers (rainfall, other weather) SCARCE RESOURCES: Widespread low soil fertility and patchy natural resources SPARSE POPULATION: Sparse, mobile and patchy human population REMOTENESS: Distant markets, business, political centres, mental models Recognising the Desert Syndrome Stafford Smith (2008) Rangeland Journal 30: 3-14 Science of Desert Living Although we tend to regard these (with urban prejudices) as problems, desert dwellers have to live with and overcome these issues, thus creating one major source of comparative advantage for desert Australia

5 5 Sources of comparative advantage Resources in abundance, not available elsewhere –Minerals, sunlight, space Located natural and cultural resources –Tourism, extensive grazing, bush foods –Local culture, music, art Knowledge about managing for/with desert drivers –Technologies driven by or made competitive by desert conditions – large scale, variability, sparse populations Remote area power supplies, flying doctor, remote sensing, governance systems Do/develop in desert Australia, export elsewhere

6 6 LIMITED LIVELIHOODS: Lack of diverse small business and livelihood options SCARCE CAPITAL: Low levels of financial, physical and human investment SOCIAL UNCERTAINTY: Unpredictability in or lack of control over markets, labour, policy LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Limited research, local/traditional knowledge more important CULTURAL DIFFERENCES: Particular types of people, cultures and institutions CLIMATE VARIABILITY: Variability and extremes in primary drivers (rainfall, other weather) SCARCE RESOURCES: Widespread low soil fertility and patchy natural resources SPARSE POPULATION: Sparse, mobile and patchy human population REMOTENESS: Distant markets, business, political centres, mental models Stafford Smith (2008) Rangeland Journal 30: 3-14 Science of Desert Living Build regional critical mass BUT maintain local accountability; seek economies of scope more than scale; create/support strategic alliances Opportunistically install tiered governance with local/regional autonomy; bolster local voice, allow local differences Use local skills where possible; insulate from policy changes (distinguish delivery from governance at most scales) Develop local livelihood options (including social, community and traditional services) Establish independent (transparent) capital and recurrent funding mechanisms Living with and taking advantage of the difference s Enable demand rather than supply driven services Manage with (not against) variability and scarcity Flexible stocking strategies Business clustering across the desert Service agencies combining roads, health etc Mining alliances for employment Redesigned local government Using new communications technologies Remote sensing for monitoring large areas Mobile & remote education delivery Valuing cultural and environmental services Empowering community water management Flying doctor service

7 7 LIMITED LIVELIHOODS: Lack of diverse small business and livelihood options SCARCE CAPITAL: Low levels of financial, physical and human investment SOCIAL UNCERTAINTY: Unpredictability in or lack of control over markets, labour, policy LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Limited research, local/traditional knowledge more important CULTURAL DIFFERENCES: Particular types of people, cultures and institutions CLIMATE VARIABILITY: Variability and extremes in primary drivers (rainfall, other weather) SCARCE RESOURCES: Widespread low soil fertility and patchy natural resources SPARSE POPULATION: Sparse, mobile and patchy human population REMOTENESS: Distant markets, business, political centres, mental models Stafford Smith (2008) Rangeland Journal 30: 3-14 Increasingly variable / uncertain / not- previously- experienced climates Increasing gap between rural areas and urban users of ecosystem services Why should the rest of Australia (or world) care?? Growing resource scarcities Increasing population mobility Changing nature of settlement Growing challenge to link local knowledge, policy & research Connecting #2: some (not all) desert drivers are becoming increasingly relevant outside the desert, creating opportunities to help

8 8 Where are we talking about? #1 City water shortages Uncertain, more variable future climates Growing urban- rural divide Sea-change settlements fragmenting communities

9 9 Where are we talking about? #2 (From Leemans & Kleidon 2002) Drylands: ~40% of the worlds land surface, home to ~2 billion people, 1bn with livelihoods based on natural resources. + Other remote regions + Other changing regions Connecting #3: create trading partnerships and learning alliances with other desert and remote regions, to mutual benefit

10 10 Conclusions Take advantage of different terms of trade to develop technology/process, then market in different places –Remote area power supplies, better governance systems, managing uncertainty, servicing mobility… Cope with the deserts unique nature/challenges, then market in similar places –RFDS, School of the Air, mining services, communications… Combine to be ahead of everyone… –All core business for Desert Knowledge But we can learn from other regions too –Time to create a global Desert Knowledge Alliance! Around communities of practice initially

11 Desert Knowledge Science of Desert Living project


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