Transcript of the draft Primary Production Adaptation Action Plan webinar

Pauline Kennedy:

Oh, thanks, Heather and nice to join you all. Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands, where we were all joining this meeting from. I'm on the lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation and I live alongside the Merri Merri, an important waterway that flows into Birrarung not far from here. I pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging, and the Aboriginal elders of all the other communities who may be joining us today.

Pauline Kennedy:

Traditional owners have managed Victoria's land and water for tens of thousands of years, and they have deep knowledge and cultural practices in sustainable food and medicinal plant production and ecological land management. We acknowledge their history and their cultural traditions and the ongoing practice of language, law and cultural knowledge.

Pauline Kennedy:

We're here today to talk about, as Heather said, to talk about the draft Primary Production Adaptation Action Plan. It's currently out for consultation. Once it's finalised, it will be a plan for government action that will support adaptation in the primary industries. The draft recognises and builds on the existing strengths and adaptation practices that we know are already well underway and provides a framework for our efforts over the next five years. We want to hear your views on the draft to help us finalise the plan.

Pauline Kennedy:

Today, we'll hear from Professor Lauren Rickards, who has provided invaluable support and advice through the process to develop the Adaptation Action Plan to draft. Professor Rickards is a human geographer and an ecologist by training and now working particularly in water and agri-food sectors. Lauren advises a wide range of groups in government business and the NGO sector. And he's a lead author with the inter-governmental panel on climate change.

Pauline Kennedy:

After Lauren presents, we'll hear from Julie Webb and she'll give an overview of the draft Adaptation Action Plan priorities, and then the actions that are set out in the plan. Julie has been working in climate change and adaptation for 20 years and has led the development of the work to get us to the draft.

Pauline Kennedy:

And once we hear from Julie, we'll also hear from Laura Downes from the Department of Environment, Water, Land and Planning. Laura is the lead for the Water Cycle Adaptation Action Plan. We've invited Laura here given the close links between water and the primary production industries. Laura spent the last six years within the water and catchment area of DELWP, and she's been working on major rural water infrastructure projects, but is now focused on climate change adaptation for water.

Pauline Kennedy:

And then at the end of the session, we will have some time for questions and answers. So as Heather said, if you would like to ask a question, then just use the meeting Q&A box and you should find that there at the top of your screen. We'll answer your questions towards the end of the session, but if we don't get to them all, then I would encourage you, or if you have further questions, then we would encourage you to send us an email, particularly if this is about to help you in making your submission or forming your views as part of the engagement process.

Pauline Kennedy:

Today, we're going to give you an overview of the plan and hopefully you will be encouraged to have your say and to help us shape the final. You can use the link in the chat function to provide your feedback on the draft which you can do either through a survey or you can make a written submission. This is going to be done through Engage Victoria web page, which is the common site that's used for all of the Victoria and government engagement. You should see the link there.

Pauline Kennedy:

Okay. Now just thought before we get into the main game, I'll just give you a bit of an overview of the policy context and the scope of the plan. Some of you might be well aware of this, but others may not be. The government passed the Climate Change Act in 2017 and it includes a commitment to do five yearly Adaptation Action Plans for seven systems that are considered particularly vulnerable to climate change or essential to the state.

Pauline Kennedy:

You can see the seven AAP systems there on your slides. So what they are is that they're the plans for government, and so as such the policy documents. So they set out actions and priorities for the government with a view to enabling a more resilient future in each of the seven systems. And they provide a policy framework for government action rather than trying to define or dictate the actions of others. For example, the producers and actors in the Primary Production System.

Pauline Kennedy:

The scope of the Primary Production System is defined in the Act, so it's defined to include agriculture, productive fisheries and plantation forestry. Importantly, the Act also defines Primary Production Systems as including the workforce, the infrastructure and the communities that support the activities. So we're looking across industries, regions to identify the risks and opportunities arising from climate change and that's for like inputs growth and harvest, processing and access to markets, so thinking about the full value chain.

Pauline Kennedy:

The Primary Production System supplies Victorians with essential food and fibre, and it's also obviously income and employment for Victorians. It relies on and influences the other systems, and we'll hear more about that from Lauren, Julie and Laura.

Pauline Kennedy:

Before I hand over to Lauren, a few comments on the process that we've taken so far to develop the draft. We've tried to have a collaborative approach and draw together drawing on sort of a range of different evidence bases. So we've had input from many stakeholders, including the Victorian Agriculture Climate Change Council, and also across government. And that's been really invaluable and we're really grateful for the time and expertise that's been shared.

Pauline Kennedy:

I'd also like to take the opportunity to thank stakeholders for their input and engagement today. Some of you who would be with us today for the webinar would have already been engaged in the process and including some of our VACCC members. There were 32 semi-structured interviews. There's also been a literature review of more than 500 scientific papers and research reports.

Pauline Kennedy:

We tested the priorities and actions and the draft plan with the Victorian Agriculture and Climate Change Council and with some other targeted stakeholders through a round table discussion, and all of this input informed the draft plan that we've now released for your feedback. And just want to reiterate that this consultation process is going to be really important part of the development of the plan. We want to test the plan with you and make sure that we've got it right before we finalise, before government finalises later in the year.

Pauline Kennedy:

So your views and experiences, it's certainly really valuable to hear for me now and that'll help us to get the best plan once it's finalised later in the year. So on that note, I'd like to hand over to Lauren to present the risks and opportunities we are responding to in the plan.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

Great. Thank you, Pauline, and thanks everybody for joining us today. It's very exciting to be finally presenting this draft plan for your feedback. We wanted to begin by just outlining a bit about our approach to adaptation beginning with the fact that, of course, when it comes to climate change adaptation, the primary industry system is pretty much in a valuable advantage to place itself. The industry has been involved in for quite a long time now, and so there's a whole lot of strength within the primary industries that we get to draw on with this process.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

We also wanted to note the importance of appreciating the huge amount of variation in the primary industry system, both in terms of industries, regions and also existing circumstances. This is one of the reasons it's very important to take a systemic approach, so an approach that takes into account the non-climatic drivers of change and doesn't just look at commodities one by one. Really what climate change is increasingly demanding of us is a systems thinking mindset.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

And that means thinking about all of the interconnections in our existing systems and the interconnections between the elements of climate change. So we need to look beyond single climate hazards and we also unfortunately need to look beyond incremental or minor responses to much more transformational adaptations. But as we outline that opens up opportunities. Next slide, please.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

So what do we know? Well, we know that the climate change will affect and is beginning to affect all aspects of the primary industries, all industries, all components, all communities. We've already seen the problems that even very specific risks compose, so whether that be the impact of extreme heat on livestock, for example, the impact of less reliable, highly varied rainfall on cropping, the impact of extended fire seasons on plantations, forestry, or the risk of reduced sea and fish habitat for fisheries.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

What's increasingly evident when we look across all of the modelling and the increased literature around projected impacts is of course, we also need to take into account the systemic risks. That means things such as disrupted supplies and value chains, which of course COVID-19 has very much reminded us about, things like increasing insurance costs, increasing pest and disease outbreaks, as well as the large scale shifts in land capability and land use that climate change is also going to require we consider.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

All of this means that we need to take an approach that looks across it, which underlines the importance of the state government's approach and the systemic approach it's taking to climate change adaptation. Next slide, please.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

As I mentioned, the Victoria's primary industries are among those that are already actively adapting and because some of the risks have been evident for quite a while now, there's a wide range of adaptation examples for us to learn from. Some of these are technological responses such as the rise of digital agricultural technologies to improve real time sensing of physical conditions, which is increasingly important.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

Some of the adaptation responses we can see are those that are reshaping those physical conditions through interventions such as shade trees being planted in Northern Victoria to protect livestock. We also are looking at adaptations that reduce some existing pressures on productive systems such as removing invasive urchins from kelp forest, for example, to help them recover and better support fish populations.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

So there's already a wide range of different types of adaptation, different industries adapting and different regions adapting. And this is all increasingly important because we need to learn from that as well as to scale it up. Next slide please.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

So learning from primary industries is one of the opportunities that climate change poses, as things like dealing with existing problems, things that we know we've known for a long time that we need to deal with such as invasive species, such as things that just generally help our productive systems to thrive and to perform as well as possible. All those are ways in which adaptation is an important prompt for us to get our house in order, if you like.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

Other adaptations or and opportunities that are emerging, things like increasing resilience to a whole range of different risks, including things like global pandemics as well as improving business systems and diversifying enterprises in ways that not just protects, but also boosts our productivity, both at the business scale and also at the regional economy scale. So really climate change is a useful prompt in some ways for us to do things better, to collaborate more, collaborating across regions, across communities, and importantly along value chains in ways it can help create all sorts of important co-benefits including stronger relations. So these are important opportunities for us to grasp.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

At the same time, we also know that climate change adaptation is vital because it's an increasingly serious risk and there are three main categories of risk that we feel increasingly demand attention. So the first of those is what we've called here the risks arising from varying adaptive capacity in existing vulnerabilities. I've already mentioned the fact that we need to be highly attentive to the variation that exists within the Primary Production System at all the different scales.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

And in some cases, that means that we have different issues to deal with, different impacts to focus on and different capacities and vulnerabilities. So what we need to be doing is being attentive to the specific things we need to do, but also the way in which we need to collaborate across those different systems across those different regions. For example, our ability to adapt might actually be limited in some ways by others' lack of adaptation or by the way they're going about adaptation.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

Because as with all our actions, adaptation can be done well or poorly and at different levels, and in ways that have implications for others, including the natural environment and communities. So there's risks about not attending to this variation and not attending to the systemic inter-linkages that it poses. So we need to make sure we adapt in a way that deals with this risk. Next slide, please.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

We also are very much aware of the increased magnitude that climate change is posing. One of the elements of climate change is the increased magnitude and frequency of climatic extremes. And what that can mean is that there's an element here where even the best adapted businesses can find themselves overwhelmed by different individual events. So we need to adapt in ways that are able to cope with the quickest succession and the greater intensity of some of these events, ways that increase our resilience, our capacity to get back on our feet quickly.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

At the same time, we also need to be aware of things such as the pressures upon emergency response services, so we need to be aware that sometimes they may be overwhelmed. And so we have to actually understand that our vulnerability may be in distant places. And that brings us to another element of distance places, which is of course, that value chain or supply chain aspect.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

The fact that because we're talking about a highly globalised agricultural plantation, forestry and fisheries industries, we are talking about value chains, long supply chains, and we need to be attentive to the way climate change is affecting distant locations and of course, long transport routes as well. So all these are things that needs to be part of the adaptation story. Next slide, please.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

And this third key risk is about the need to talk about longer term transformational changes. So as we know, some climate change impacts are occurring quite slowly, and they can slip up beyond our attention. But there's also big changes that we need to be making that have long lead times, so we need to begin early. We can't rely on simply being able to adapt quickly at the time. As well as dealing with things that are emerging in the present, increasingly frequently in the present. We also need to act in a very anticipatory way.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

And that can be a challenge, particularly when our energies are really taken up by everything that's happening in the current day. So that's important, so two is coordination. Transformational change means sometimes large-scale change across regional scales, even state scales. We need to start working across industries, we need to start working along value chains to make sure we're dealing with the big shifts that occur so that nobody's left behind.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

All of this underlines that the Primary Production System is not disconnected from other systems, it's certainly not connected from things such as the water system and sector, the transport sector, the built environment, and of course the natural environment. So that means that we also, in addition to these things need to look beyond the boundaries of the Primary Production System as defined and consider what's called cross system risks.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

Cross system risks can be very difficult to trace and they involve the ability to deal with uncertainty and to manage uncertainty. But as the black summer fires illustrated, they certainly exist. We just need to think about, for example, our shared reliance on electricity and the vulnerability of electricity to numerous climatic extremes, including fire to understand the way in which these risks can cascade through systems from one sector to another, from one region to another.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

So what this means is that we have to be alert to what's happening outside of the scope of the Primary Production System and we need to be talking and working closely with those in other sectors and other systems. And this is where the important intersection between these systems, adaptation plans and the regional adaptation plans becomes a paramount. And it's because of the need to deal with adaptation at this high level, at the state level that it's so important that the Victorian government is doing this work on adaptation.

Professor Lauren Rickards:

And I really encourage you to get involved and to help us shape the final draft so that it is as attentive to all that variation that I mentioned as possible and starts to accelerate the sort of learning that we all need to be involved in. So I'll leave it there. Thank you and hand over to Julie. Thanks.

Julie Webb:

Thanks, Lauren. Before I talk through the content of the plan itself and the draft priorities and actions, I just wanted to give you a bit of a sense of how we went from this extensive analysis to the document you can find on Engage Victoria. We took the information that we had gathered, and then we looked to, I guess, examples of other adaptation plans in primary production and in the wider adaptation literature. And with this, we identified potential roles that government can play adaptation, and that helped us to then undertake a review of existing programs and policies that we had in place.

Julie Webb:

And we developed a sort of strengths and weaknesses assessment to understand how we were addressing the risks and opportunities that Lauren talked us through. And that helped to, I guess, identify where we were responding well to these risks and opportunities and where there was potential for us to develop some future work. Through that we then developed some potential actions and priorities and these draft actions and priorities we tested with stakeholders and importantly also with the Victorian Agriculture and Climate Change Council.

Julie Webb:

And just to reiterate that what I'm presenting here is still a draft, so again, I do encourage you to provide your feedback before August 6 at Engage Victoria.

Julie Webb:

In terms of the plan this current plan is to 2026, but we have medium and longer term objectives as well. The current plan is really about working with businesses to support adaptation to both the immediate challenges and to build the momentum towards that longer-term climate change and this sort of longer-term conversations that we need to start having around transformational adaptation and potential business transitions. Now, this period is really foundational work. We want to use it to improve our understanding of the issues and strengthen the existing capabilities of the systems and the actors within the system.

Julie Webb:

So as Lauren emphasised, there's really strong adaptation work happening already, we want to be able to build on that and identify how to scale that up towards these medium and longer term objectives. Through to 2050, we want to be able to see a system that's continuing to provide food, fibre and income for Victoria. We want to see primary industries able to adapt and transition in response to climate change as it is unfolding.

Julie Webb:

Now, to explain her intentions a bit more, I'll go through the priorities and actions for the current period, which we've developed to help us move towards these short, medium and long-term objectives. Now this infographic, I've put it up here, I'm going to go through it in more detail, but just to emphasise that the priorities and the actions have been developed as a package of work. We wanted to prepare a coherent plan for the five years, one that builds on the strengths within industries and within the system, but also responded to where we need to focus into the medium and the longer term.

Julie Webb:

So the idea is that, we've developed a plan that both embeds existing work and then also identifies areas for further development. Our first priority here is looking to better understand and inform our response to the system-wide challenges and opportunities, which Lauren referred to. So recognizing that the system is not operating in isolation and there are climate change risks and opportunities across the whole value chain. So we really recognise our system relies on these other AAP systems, what Lauren referred to earlier as cross system risks and the resilience of our system is deeply intertwined with other AAP systems.

Julie Webb:

So the work we've set out here is to improve our system-wide knowledge base of these risks and opportunities, and to in particular, collaborate with other AAP systems, particularly transport, natural environment, and water. And there's also the other critical role that other inputs play in the adaptation within primary production. So we've identified telecommunications credit and insurance as important parts of our work.

Julie Webb:

And we've also identified that there are some emerging health risks that we want to collaborate more further with the health and human services Adaptation Action Plan on. So these are issues related to food safety from for example, heat health events and other hazards, and also identifying potential health risks to primary producers, industry actors, families, communities, et cetera. So this is another area of important collaboration.

Julie Webb:

Our next priority is research and innovation. So through our assessment, particularly through the literature review, we identified what you could characterise as deep pools of knowledge. So there are some deep pools of knowledge around climate change in particular commodities and around primary production and particular climate hazards. But we identified that they were sort of relatively narrow, however, they were very deep. So we want to be able to sort of broaden this out and build a more system-wide knowledge base.

Julie Webb:

The knowledge we have is critical and we want to continue to strengthen that work, but bring that system-wide perspective to the research and innovation system. So importantly as well, part of this area of work is identifying the critical importance of research collaboration, so that research is done with the practitioners, rural communities and businesses, so that it can directly benefit those operating within the system itself.

Julie Webb:

A final piece of the research and innovation work we've developed is to focus on the monitoring and evaluation of the AAP itself. Now, we want to make sure that this work is not only looking at our delivery of the actions, so whether we did what we said we were going to do, but also on our progress towards those medium and longer term objectives that I set out earlier. So how can we best understand the contributions where we are or can potentially in future make towards progress towards those longer-term outcomes?

Julie Webb:

Our third area is around adaptation information skills and capabilities, which are really critical to adaptation on the ground. We recognise the existing skills and capabilities within primary industries and these are really important foundation for the work we're planning under this priority. And also further strength is within the information and supports available already through some existing programs and services. So for example, this climate webinar series is a really strong asset, other climate information services, the fast break newsletters, et cetera.

Julie Webb:

There's some really strong areas of work in existence already and part of the Adaptation Action Plan is to really embed and recognise some of those existing programs. And within this, we also want to bring in, I guess, a stronger regional collaboration approach so that we can look at how different participants in the industries can work together at regional levels and identify opportunities to undertake adaptation across commodities, across regions, et cetera.

Julie Webb:

And in this priority, we also want to look at the long-term climate change projections, so beginning to bring those into these types of conversations and into the existing services and provisions that we have to work with primary industries to develop what those information and service needs are and how we can begin those conversations about the longer term outcomes. Now, this priority will enable the implementation of adaptation directly in productive systems and across the whole supply chain.

Julie Webb:

So if you like priority, one was looking really at building our knowledge base of the climate change risks and opportunities to the value chains. And we want to bring that knowledge and expertise that we develop further into these engagements with primary producers and industry actors.

Julie Webb:

Our fourth area of work is really looking at our own capacity, the adaptive capacity of government itself. So recognizing that we need to look at the resilience of our own assets, our own services and operations. So potentially through initiatives, such as scenario planning and other internally focused work. And this priority also includes the emergency preparedness management and recovery from extreme events. So recognizing that how we respond to extreme events can contribute to the resilience outcomes as well.

Julie Webb:

And collaborating across government on climate risk government and adaptation is also important. And we've included a focus on climate risk government in this area of work, which reflects moves within the legal and the finance sectors to recognise that there are liabilities and responsibilities for agencies and entities to consider the risks from climate change. So in conclusion, just to reiterate again, we do want to hear your views as Pauline emphasised at the start. This document is out for public comment and it's really an opportunity to shape it.

Julie Webb:

At the Engage Victoria website, you can find the full document and also a visual summary and we have included a survey, a brief online survey that you can complete, and also the opportunity to provide a more detailed written submission. So on that note, I'd like to pass over to Laura, who will give us an overview of the Water Cycle Adaptation Actions Plan, which obviously has very close connections to the Primary Production System. Over to you, Laura.

Laura Downes:

Thanks, Julie. So kicking straight off. For those that aren't aware, the water cycle is clearly defined under the Climate Change Act across four components. Water supply, which includes the collection, storage, supply, and delivery of water, sewerage, drainage, and flood management. Mentioned earlier, the water and catchments area of the Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning is responsible for the development of the Water Cycle AAP.

Laura Downes:

But as you can imagine with water being such a vital part of our lives, it has many connections with the other AAP systems as well, including the Primary Production System discussed today. Connections between the water and Primary Production System include for example, access to affordable and fit-for-purpose for water for primary producers and households, on-farm water management and business planning to prepare for changes in water demand. Next slide.

Laura Downes:

As we're all aware, we've already observed changes to the environment, so such as increases in temperature, but importantly for our system, decreases in average annual rainfall and declines in stream flow. So adaptation is important because as global emissions increase, projections to 2050 are indicating a warmer drive future that may experience more intense, short duration rainfall events, and longer fire seasons. Average annual stream flow could reduce by more than 50% in some catchments by 2065.

Laura Downes:

So this all has some serious implications for long-term water availability, the quality of our water resources, and customer affordability if we don't adapt effectively to climate change. So this highlights some of the shared risks with primary productions, which we were mentioning earlier, but are outlined in greater detail in the full Adaptation Action Plans. And these risks include for example, adequate water supplies to meet different water user needs, appropriate diversification of water sources, and also things like managing increasing frequency and distribution of algal blooms. Next slide.

Laura Downes:

So the water cycle system is a little bit unique in the sense that in 2018, a Pilot Water Sector Adaptation Action Plan was released and this contains 20 actions. So we're in a position where we're building from the pilot and this Adaptation Action Plan is outlining five outcome areas where we think the government adaptation action should be focused. So this includes, for example, diversifying water supplies, ensuring water infrastructure and natural assets are prepared and resilient to physical changes in climate.

Laura Downes:

Promoting a flexible water sector that prepares for future uncertainty and responds to climate-related risks and emergencies. Supporting our community to understand the impact of climate change and incorporate traditional ecological knowledge, as well as supporting vulnerable communities in their adaptation journey. And finally facilitating an orderly transition where we can maximise uptake adaptation opportunities and avoid mal-adaptation. Next slide.

Laura Downes:

But before I talk about the draft actions themselves, I think it's important to highlight the maturity of the water system already and that the Water Cycle Adaptation Action Plan is not seeking to replace existing strategies and processes. So this slide is really just highlighting a handful of the work that's scheduled over the next five-year period of this Adaptation Action Plan, such as regional catchment strategies that you may have already provided input towards.

Laura Downes:

So the draft actions in this plan have tried to account for future uncertainties, but also allow us to align with these future work programs such as those listed here. Next slide.

Laura Downes:

The plan includes a set of 19 draft actions, which have been divided into the five outcome areas I mentioned earlier, but that's not to say that an action can't meet multiple outcome areas. These actions work alongside each other to address from multiple angles key risks, opportunities, and adaptation priorities over the next five years. Some of these actions build from findings or products that were developed from the pilot while others are really starting the adaptation journey in particular spaces.

Laura Downes:

So I've highlighted in orange text here, the draft actions that I thought might be a particular interest for today's session and apologies if it's really small writing. For example, action three is to investigate co-investment opportunities with community private investors and government partners to deliver water infrastructure projects. And that has a much more agricultural focus in the terms of commencing or delivering projects, such as the Bellarine Recycled Water Scheme, East Grampians Rural Pipeline, and the Modernisation of the Macalister Irrigation District to improve community resilience under climate change and variability.

Laura Downes:

Number seven there, we'll review Victoria's Emergency Water Supply Network and clarify the responsibility of regional agencies to provide operation and maintenance of any new or upgraded emergency water supply points, so that these points remain functional when they're needed. And lastly, action nine proposes to trial the application of a framework to understand future changes to algal risks across Victorian water bodies. So this will build on work that's undertaken through the pilot and in the longer term could help algal managers prioritise resources and interventions to where algal risks are greatest.

Laura Downes:

So, in the interest of time, I'll pass back to Pauline.

Pauline Kennedy:

Thank you. That was great from all of our three speakers today. Now we've got some time for some questions. I'd encourage you to use the question and answer function that you should see at the top of your screen. We've got a couple of questions that have already come in. So the first one, Julie, I'll ask you to answer, just asking for some more information about the industry consultation process that's happened to date.

Julie Webb:

Great. Thanks, Pauline and thank you for the questioner. I guess we recognised very early on that there was a lot of information we'd be able to find out there in written documents, reports, government papers, academic literature, but that we really needed to ensure that right from the start, we were drawing in some, if you like real world perspectives. So early on, when we mapped out the plan to develop the Adaptation Action Plan, we identified a knowledge gathering phase and that involved the literature review that was referred to before, but also embedded within the knowledge gathering was the interview process.

Julie Webb:

So we undertook 32 semi-structured interviews of around an hour with different stakeholder groups across the system to help us understand the current drivers of change happening within their industry, so what else is happening and what's the context in which climate change impacts and adaptation is happening? And also what impacts they've already observed and what action they might already be taking. So that industry consultation gave us a more solid grounding, I guess, so that we were actually not just looking to publish literature, which obviously, there's a lag time and also there's obviously... It's not going to necessarily cover the full spectrum.

Julie Webb:

So industry consultation was really essential in both the knowledge gathering and then subsequently when we had the draft actions and the draft priorities. So we've engaged closely with the Victorian Agriculture Climate Change Council, which has been highly valuable to us to give us those real-world perspectives from across the industry. And also we presented to a round table and to various other forums in terms of like the catchment management authorities, et cetera.

Julie Webb:

So I guess engagement as Pauline mentioned earlier, actually is, collaboration and engagement is really important through this. And again, I'd just like to thank anyone who's on the call, who's participated in any of the round tables or interviews. It really has been invaluable for our process. Thanks, Pauline.

Pauline Kennedy:

Thanks, Julie. Now, we also have another question that's come through, which is, how are we going to engage rural councils and their economic planning role? Again, Julie, I think that one's for you.

Julie Webb:

Sure. We actually have a presentation next week, a similar presentation to this to local governments so that would include rural councils, urban councils, the municipal authorities, et cetera. So really it's important that we... I think I emphasise through some of the discussion around the priorities is the importance of regional work. So these are statewide plans and they are setting out statewide priorities and actions for the government, but they need to make sense on the ground at the regional level.

Julie Webb:

And on the one hand that's because that's where the action happens, but also because there are existing relationships and existing organisations like rural councils operating and providing valuable support and resources on the ground. So certainly through the following phases, we'll have to be developing more detailed implementation plans and also collaborating through our existing regional partnerships through DJPR as well to make sure that we're actually working with what's already in place and making the best of the investments that we have. So critical role for rural councils within that.

Pauline Kennedy:

Thank you, Julie. Now, there's actually bid another question which perhaps I'll attempt to answer. We've had a question which really wants to understand what the scope of the Adaptation Action Plan is. So the question is, is the plan really about adapting to the impacts of climate change rather than, and less about adapting to net zero, which of course is about the emission reduction plan?

Pauline Kennedy:

You may know that the government released its climate change strategy early in the year. And within that, it also included its targets. So yes, we have a net zero emissions target for 2050, but it also released its interim targets to 2025 and 2030. And alongside that it released its set of emission reduction sector pledges. And one of those, I guess, quite a lot of those are relevant to the primary production industries.

Pauline Kennedy:

So we had commitments around the clean energy transition, commitments around how's transport going to evolve to be low emissions. And then we also had a sector pledge around how the government is going to work with the agriculture sector to reduce agricultural emissions, and then also how to work with industry and communities on in the land sector, more generally. So the government released those plans early in the year.

Pauline Kennedy:

And then this is the other side of the same coin really, which is about okay, given that we know there's going to be some changes to climate change no matter what we do to reduce emissions globally. We know we're going to have to adapt to... There's already a climate change that have locked in, we know we're going to have to adapt. And so these plans are about what is government going to do to support these seven systems to be able to be better adapt to the changing climate. So hope that answers that question.

Pauline Kennedy:

Now, we do have another question, which perhaps Graeme you might be able to answer for us. It's really asking a question about the soils and healthy functioning soil is underpinning Primary Production Systems and that they haven't been mentioned necessarily specifically. And then also asking the question about how are we going to take into account the recently released National Soil Strategy.

Pauline Kennedy:

And I think maybe just to add to that, Graeme, perhaps you can talk to us about how we might think about what's going on at the national level more generally that might be relevant to adaptation in the primary industries.

Graeme:

Yeah, thanks. Thanks for that Pauline. The risks quite a lot happening in soils and soils are going to be really critical and farmers know that that's one thing that's under their control. First, we'd really like any particular input to make sure people, if they've got views that they do include that while this draft is open. But there's also the National Soil Strategy, which is underway and there's a lot of things that are flowing from that.

Graeme:

And we also see a lot of great work that's happening locally with farm and producer groups, really looking at how do we look at the combined benefit of improved soil health that not only helps with organic matter and carbon, but actually improves the ability of the soil to better respond to store extra moisture and be a better buffer for more variable seasons.

Graeme:

So that's really important bit, so I just say people have got ideas or suggestions that they please make sure they register those in the comments or filling the survey so that they can get that across.

Pauline Kennedy:

Yeah, and thanks, Graeme.

Graeme:

I can also add, Pauline, too. There's also from a national point of view, things like the Future Drought Fund, which is a national program, but there's a lot of activity and fantastic groups and activities that are involved in that as that's being developed across Victoria and a lot of our farmer groups and universities are working on that. All with the aim of really trying to improve how we improve managing climate risk and doing things that have us better set up for the future.

Pauline Kennedy:

Great. Thanks, Graeme. Julie, perhaps this one's for you as well. I've got a question about pillar three, information skills and capabilities. Is it intended that the plan will provide practical advice down at the producer level and indeed those that can give a fit to mitigation and adaptation actions? So I think that's about who's the target audience?

Julie Webb:

Sure. And actually, I might just take the opportunity just to add on briefly to what Graeme was just referring to around the question on soils, which is clearly a very critical issue. Just to note that in the formal scoping of the AAP systems, the soil system is a part of the natural environment adaptation system. And we've clearly identified between multiple systems that soil mobility, soil loss, soil generally is a critical cross system risk.

Julie Webb:

So whilst there's actions that we can do within primary industries and primary production that have a contribution to the movement of soil mobility and soil quality, we also need to work with other systems in terms of how they are influencing soil, soil quality, et cetera. So it is absolutely a critical issue and we've identified it in the collaborative process between the AAPs as a key core system risk.

Julie Webb:

In terms of the third area of work around information skills capabilities, yeah, so the idea is that we'll be using some of the existing services and processes. So we've already got the very strong outreach and information services, for example, that Graham Anderson is a critical part of, so looking at practical advice as the questionnaire asks around at the producer level. And also, as I mentioned, we want to look at regional work, so how we can work to bring people together. So whilst is an important role for the direct to the producer, we also want to bring producers together and bring people together at that regional level.

Julie Webb:

And I think the other part of the question is around adaptation mitigation distinction. I would agree, in terms of a policy setting there's these clear two separate policy agendas around mitigation adaptation, but on the ground, they need to make sense. So we're looking at how we can work alongside and through some of the existing energy-related programs so that we can bring adaptation into those conversations, so some of the farm planning that's getting underway from a mitigation point of view.

Julie Webb:

But also how we can look at, I guess, responding to the demands from primary producers. So recognizing that climate change impacts are operating at that level on the ground. But if we just come in and say, "We're not talking about climate change impacts, we're talking about mitigation," that doesn't really gel and then vice versa. If we're only talking about adaptation, but we're not also talking about business efficiencies and how to build the resilience of businesses from an energy management point of view.

Julie Webb:

So absolutely we need to bring those two agendas together when we're actually down with our feet on the ground, if you like. Thanks, Pauline.

Pauline Kennedy:

I've also got another interesting question, which is, is there any plans to protect strategic agriculture assets such as land, water and people? Julie, do you want to have a go at answering that one?

Julie Webb:

I'm not sure I fully grasp the question, Pauline.

Pauline Kennedy:

Okay. Well, I might have a go.

Julie Webb:

Have a go.

Pauline Kennedy:

I think what the question is answering, is the government going to step in to protect the strategic assets. I think that's what the question is saying and I think the approach that we're taking to adaptation is there's going to be partnership that a lot of the assets that are important in the Primary Production System are privately-owned assets, privately-managed assets. So it definitely needs to be... Adaptation is not going to be the sole function of government or all the actors in primary industries.

Pauline Kennedy:

So I think we have to work out well, what needs to be done and then I think it's a more of a partnership approach that is actually needed. Would that be fair, Julie?

Julie Webb:

Yes, I think so. And I think now that I had a moment, I think that we have to look at it as a system. There's the role of government in what we can do to directly respond to the risks and opportunities to our own assets, our own infrastructure, our own staff, et cetera, but then also that collaborative approach. So it's really important to look at it across the system and how we can build the resilience of the systems so that they can actually be better protected in terms of what we might see in the future from climate change impacts.

Pauline Kennedy:

Great. And Laura, I've got one for you. There's a question that is, are there any climate justice issues with water pollution that will be addressed?

Laura Downes:

Thanks. I think water pollution is a pretty broad term, so it could cover any number of things, but I assume, in terms of climate change adaptation, the plan does talk about the impacts of climate change on water quality. And so that's a key risk that is highlighted in the Adaptation Action Plan. And whether or not that's from sources from say, bush fire or blue-green algae or thinking about even amplifying effects of climate change through say, primary production inputs into the water system.

Laura Downes:

So that is touched on in the Adaptation Action Plan, but I guess there is a limit to what this Adaptation Action Plan can really capture. And there are other strategies out there that are dealing with more broad water quality and water pollution issues as well.

Pauline Kennedy:

Okay. There's another water related question, Laura, which I'll get you to answer now. This one's asking the question about how we anticipate that the competing interests between primary and other industries and the environmental flows will be negotiated given the expected overall reduction in water flows into catchments across most of Victoria.

Laura Downes:

Yes. I guess that is one of our major across system risks. It is a risk that's shared with not only primary production, but with the natural environment. It's one of our major ones. I guess, although it's a major risk looking forward to climate change, there are processes as well in place that we are leveraging and highlighting in the plan, such as long-term water resource assessment process, which allows us to see whether water availability has changed over that time and whether or not that change is disproportionately impacting particular uses.

Laura Downes:

And also things like sustainable water strategies where we can try and plan forward about how we're going to meet threats such as climate change in terms of water availability. So certainly the plan is highlighting the need for us to have diverse water supplies so that you can meet different needs across different users, including the environment and primary producers in urban water use as well. So diverse water supply is certainly a key theme in the Adaptation Action Plan as a way to assist in other existing processes to meet that risks.

Pauline Kennedy:

Great. Thanks, Laura. We've actually had one more question, Julie, which I think you might be well-placed to answer, and that's about the Regional Adaptation Plans. So perhaps you can explain what the Regional Adaptation Action Plans are and how they relate to these Adaptation Action Plans and give us a little sense of where they're up to.

Julie Webb:

Sure. Thanks. That's a very good important point to make. Obviously, as we've been talking about here, there's a state-based plan, so importantly taking a system focus, so looking at systems across the state and multiple systems across the state and how those systems interact. But in parallel with this process has been the development of regional adaptation strategies. So this is some work that's been led through the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and that work has developed regional strategies that are very much community-driven.

Julie Webb:

So our plans, the system-based plans are the plans for government. They are actually just very recently released. I'm not sure if they've all been released, but certainly several of them have just come through their public engagement period and have been released. Regional adaptation strategies that were developed facilitated by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, but to identify community priorities and regional priorities, so there are very packaged in terms of what came up through the collaborative process at the regional level.

Julie Webb:

So yeah, they're very important to look at these two processes alongside each other. Not that they have to say the same things because they're coming from different audiences and they're for different purposes, but then it's important to look at how we can identify, I guess, cross-fertilisation between those two processes. So the development of the regional adaptation strategies is around six months ahead of the system-based plans. And so we've been able to look at the information and the feedback coming through their processes and draw that into ours.

Julie Webb:

And certainly in implementation, we see those as really important parts of the delivery mechanisms, so there's some really strong existing relationships on the ground, including the traditional owners. So the engagement with some of the key stakeholder groups has been coordinated rather than all seven systems going out and talking to the same people about similar topics. And a lot of that has been led through the DELWP regional bodies that have been coordinating the regional adaptation strategies. So, yeah, it's a really important part of the sort of adaptation response for Victoria.

Pauline Kennedy:

Thanks, Julie. I've got another question here, which you might be well-placed to answer, and it says, "Will there be mandatory elements to the plans to which farmers must comply?"

Julie Webb:

Thank you. No. The idea here is there's a plan for the government in terms of things that we want to do to enable support, encourage adaptation within the primary industries. There's no sort of particular farming method or practices that are embedded in the plan or we don't have a particular opinion about what sort of particular strategies should be implemented. It's more about a process to strengthen the services and systems that we have and identify where we need to do more or do differently. And then how we can work with primary industries to identify what their own priorities and needs are.

Julie Webb:

So how can we bring climate change information, some of those longer term climate change projections into those conversations, but it's very much about the primary industries making their own plans and decisions, and setting their own priorities. There's certainly not a kind of mandatory element.

Pauline Kennedy:

Julie, you might want to talk about, there is sort of one action of course, where we are, we do think we need to have a look at some of those existing programs and regulations that might apply for the primary industries to see what the impacts of climate change might be. So to the extent that in that review, government determines or that we might need to make some adjustments to existing regulation that might apply to you or rules for programs or that might not apply to you.

Pauline Kennedy:

Then that would be through sort of a consultative process and an analytical process to understand what its role is in supporting climate change adaptation in primary industries.

Julie Webb:

Yeah, I'll just make a final quick comment on that, I know we're running up to the end of the session. One of our areas of work is to identify barriers to adaptation that might be in place within the context of existing regulations. So for example, within the fisheries industries there's opportunities for changing species availability. So being able to actually ensure that we're not limiting by lack of attention any of those opportunities.

Pauline Kennedy:

Great. Okay. We did have some comments that we haven't been able to get to today. So what I will do is I would encourage you to drop those questions through to the website... sorry to the email address that's just there on the screen. And of course, if you've told us your name when you made the question, then we'll endeavour to get back to you.

Pauline Kennedy:

I just wanted to thank you all for your time and for joining us today. And once again, encourage you to take a closer look at the plan on the Engage Vic website. Both the water and primary production one are there, but as are all of the other five. So have a look at those, tell us what you think, and we'll analyse your views and the information and in the finalisation of the plans for later in the year.

Pauline Kennedy:

The consultation period is open until the 6th of August and a summary of the feedback that we receive will be provided. And we just look forward to hearing your views so that we can refine them and have a really good plan that's going to be useful and helpful for all of us going forward. And yeah, look forward to continuing collaboration on the plan, but also beyond the plan as we take action to adapt to climate change. So I think I'm to hand over back to you, Heather to close out the session.

Heather Field:

Fantastic. Thanks, Pauline and I'm just going to close out our webinar by thanking both Pauline, Lauren, Julie and Laura for your time today and sharing the draft Primary Industries Adaptation Action Plan and responding to some of those fantastic questions. And we will capture those and try and answer as many as we can.

Page last updated: 23 Jan 2023