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Joint Submission: Prioritising a safe climate

The Local Government Working Group contributed to the first round of consultation on Australia's National Science and Research Priorities, shedding light on the scientific challenges we face, the opportunities that lie ahead, and the strengths we can leverage in our science system. We look forward to the next round of consultations on the draft priorities and statement, set to begin in August 2023, culminating with finalisation in October 2023.

We invite you to read the submission and consider how we can work together to reshape Australia's scientific vision and research landscape to create better, climate resilient futures.


Dear Department of Industry, Science and Resources,

We appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the public consultation on Australia's National Science and Research Priorities. This submission represents a collective of organisations, encompassing over 165 local governments across Australia. Our aim is to provide insights on how local governments and communities can enhance Australia's capability and capacity to address climate change challenges and harness zero emissions opportunities through science and research.

In line with the guiding principles, we present our recommendations for addressing Australia's greatest challenges, seizing opportunities, and maintaining and building strengths as follows:

  1. Science and research to address climate change challenges:
    1. Determining climate change resilience costs for local governments to safeguard communities.
    2. Developing tools and frameworks to assess climate change vulnerability and prioritise resilience building.
    3. Implementing research and evaluation of community-based climate change adaptation, mitigation and resilience building solutions, such as using climate impact data to identify hotspots to guide infrastructure upgrade investments and effectively deploying health resources.
  2. Science and research to seize the zero emissions opportunities:
    1. Fostering innovative and sustainable community or regional scale solutions in areas like smart renewable systems, energy efficiency, urban planning, nature-based solutions, water management, and climate health and well-being.
    2. Investing in local renewable energy industries, urban planning innovations, circular economy initiatives, and digital technology for public services and community engagement.
    3. Exploring local emissions drawdown or carbon sequestration projects for community-based and local government-led initiatives.

By working with local governments and communities, alongside support of fundamental research to further our understanding of climate change and develop innovative strategies and solutions, Australia can leverage its strengths in science and research to address pressing issues and make the most of the opportunities we have now to create sustainable, zero emissions and climate-resilient communities.

To enhance Australia's capability and capacity in confronting climate change challenges and seizing zero emissions opportunities, and maintaining or building strengths, we recommend supporting research that:

  • Directs climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience-building research, development, and deployment (RD&D) programs and activities in partnership with cities, regions, and their governments.
  • Harmonises Australian climate policy research, development, and implementation processes across all levels of government by utilising a national coordination framework that enables coordinated good governance for accelerated local innovation and implementation.
  • Promotes multi-level governance for a sustainable built environment in Australia by establishing federal sustainable building targets, tracking progress, adjusting targets, and combining top-down and bottom-up approaches in implementing low emission building policies.
  • Informs and engages subnational governments on evolving national policy and programs to jointly meet national mitigation and adaptation goals.
  • Connects Australian researchers with regional and local governments in other countries facing similar adaptation, mitigation and resilience building challenges to replicate good practices with regional and local relevance.

Local governments are ready to work collaboratively with scientists and researchers across society and the economy to ensure a prosperous, climate-resilient, and zero-emissions future for everyone. By working together, we can address climate change challenges, seize zero emissions opportunities, and maintain and build our strengths in fundamental science and research. We look forward to participating in the roundtable discussions to finalise draft priorities in June 2023.


Lisa Cliff

Program Director - Better Futures Australia


April 02, 2023 at 5:00pm - April 03, 2023 (Melbourne time)