Science, Policy, People

Convenor: Prof Kate Auty, Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Victoria

Rationale: People want and need outcomes – not instruments.

Telling the story right!

The audience for environmental decision-making and reporting increasingly includes a responsive and interested public. Telling the story of climate change is a challenge for all of us – scientists, policy makers, artists, journalists, teachers, and community activists. It is critical that this story is told to an increasingly broader audience and that its narrative includes local, Indigenous and interdisciplinary understandings of ecological and geological events, underpinned by rigorous scientific support and analysis.

The recent floods along the east coast of Australia and the continued drought in the west emphasise the need to urgently address environmental and climate change challenges. These events also demonstrate that government and the academy need to enshrine a commitment to broader public engagement – an integration of science, policy and people– to enable understanding and inform the community’s response to these challenges.

The transfer of data and information into knowledge and decision making is crucial for public sector governance of our natural assets. To make effective decisions faster – and for those decisions to be supported by clear policy implementation ownership – mission-directed research requires established roles for researchers, policy makers and the community. Similarly, how policy levers are applied at different scales is a discussion that needs to be informed by a collaborative and adaptive synthesis of the knowledge being generated in the academy, in government and that which resides in the social capital of communities.

Breaking through the inertia and considering how best to do this will be the focus of this session.

Panel members:

Dr Nicholas Aberle (Director, Environmental Film Festival Melbourne), Dr Richard Eckard (Associate Professor/ Director Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre, University of Melbourne & Vic Department of Primary Industries), Mr Greg Hunt(Executive Officer, South East Councils Climate Change Alliance), Ms Meg McDonald(CEO, Australian Carbon Trust) and Dr Penny Whetton (Senior Principal Research Scientist in the Climate Projections Science Team, CSIRO).