Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)
Due to its geographic location and characteristics, Australia is extremely vulnerable to climate change. Because of this, the nation is susceptible to increased and extreme weather conditions. Hence, it experiences calamities such as droughts, heatwaves and other natural disasters. Nevertheless, due to the strong governance and management, Australia is in a favourable position to battle the fluctuations in the weather. This is majorly done through climate adaptation strategies. By adapting weather oriented policies, Australia has improved its potential to manage the pressures of extreme weather change. Additionally, it also possesses the ability to contribute to sustainable development and enhance the recognition of Indigenous rights and leadership by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Climate change is beginning to have a vast and growing impact on Australia’s natural environment and ecosystems. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) notes that Australia is likely to be at particular risk of increased desertification due to a combination of hotter temperatures, evapotranspiration and decreased overall rainfall in a modified climate. The number of hot days each year across the country are becoming more frequent and severe; 2019 was recorded as the hottest year yet with an average temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than the long-term average and Australia’s single hottest day on record. The warmer temperatures have been coupled with extreme droughts.
These climate impacts on Australian agriculture are of significant concern, as the sector is an important component of the national economy, provides food security to Australia’s population of 25 million people, and is essential to the livelihoods of many people in rural and regional communities. Agriculture currently accounts for nearly 60 per cent of total land use and water extractions in Australia; forming 14 per cent of national exports, 2.7 per cent of GDP and 2.5 per cent of employment in 2016-2017. Furthermore, the value of the agriculture sector together with fisheries and forestry has increased in real terms by 34 per cent in the last twenty years to a total worth of around $66 billion in 2017-2018.
here are increased international calls to transform agriculture and land management practices to enhance resilience to climate change and support sustainable development. The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal 2 which is to ‘End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’ advocates for sustainable agriculture, climate adaptation, land restoration practices and sensible water management to promote increased agricultural yields and ensure greater levels of social equity, economic productivity and improved population health. The UN also notes the vital role that traditional farmers play in improving local agricultural systems through their knowledge of sustainable management of soils, land, water, nutrients, pests and organic fertilisers.