Policy Narratives

Transformative change, one decision at a time

Our policy narratives tell the stories of how we have engaged to ‘make a difference’ and to transform the best available evidence about some of the world’s biggest challenges into better decisions and, ultimately, solutions. The difference between what is, and what could be, has motivated all of us to have our voices heard. We have spoken behind ‘closed doors’, in key advisory roles, in the public arena and in whatever ways open to us to, literally, change the world.

Sometimes we really did make the world a better place. There were also times when people or organisations with a vested interest in ‘business as usual’, and despite our best efforts, steered decisions to favour themselves contrary to the public good. These less-than-successful stories are the inspiration for us to do better, and to work differently.

Our past successes and failures have proven to us that there is only so much each of us can achieve working alone. We know that by working together, and that by pooling our common understanding and efforts, we can do so much more collectively than we can individually. It is this common vision and willingness to work together, and with a common purpose, that underlies what we do and who we are.

We are the not first to argue for a paradigm shift in how we make decisions and respond to the key risks that the world faces. What makes us different and unique is that: (1) we combine world-leading, independent scientists and economists working together from multiple places, but with a global perspective; (2) we focus on the critical sustainability challenges of our age in terms of food, water, energy, soils and biosecurity; (3) we recognise that better decision making and improved security require a risk focus, and also actions that make the world more resilient; (4) we share an overarching vision that the best available evidence must be used to create solutions and feasible pathways, and not simply to document or diagnose problems; and, most importantly, (5) we feel compelled to speak ‘truth to power’, and will do so even when this might be personally costly.

Each of our policy narratives tells an important, individual story of how we have used ‘science’ to try to make a difference. What is missing from a one-by-one reading of our stories, and also in the world at large, is an awareness of the systemic risks that stem from poor decision-making and the unexpected. Silo thinking by many of the word’s ‘best and brightest’ failed to foresee the Great Recession of 2008-09 or the food price crisis of 2007-08 that pushed tens of millions into hunger. Importantly, an inability to look beyond the obvious and to consider the unexpected were key contributors to the policy failures that caused these global crises.

In an increasingly complex and globalised world very few decision makers see, let alone understand, the connections between a drought in Russia, people revolutions in the Middle-East and a tidal wave of refugees in Europe. Our understanding of the unforeseen consequences of ‘business as usual’ convinces us that nothing less than a fundamental change in how many policy decisions are made, and how the world responds to risks, is urgently needed. This is the collective challenge of humanity, and it is why we have come together to help make the world a better place, one decision at a time.

The Economics and Science of Overfishing

Prof. Quentin Grafton and Prof. Tom Kompas have helped to transform the management of fisheries in Australia, the European Union, the Pacific and in North America

Emissions Trading and Climate Change Mitigation

Dr Suzi Kerr collaborates with researchers, business and government to build environmental markets that work

Productivity, Natural Resources and the Wealth of Nations

Prof. Kevin Fox's work enables government departments to incorporate natural capital into economic productivity measurements

Picture of a turbine

Energy sector reform

Ian Cronshaw works with the governments of major economies to devise policy for coal, gas and electricity markets

Image by flickr user vinothchandar

Responding to Water Scarcity

Prof. Quentin Grafton's work provided the key evidence on water rights and environmental flows at a critical stage in Australia's national water reforms

Image by flickr user NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Climate Change in the Arctic

Prof. Amanda Lynch's engagement with government, business and communities enables better responses to a rapidly changing climate

The Economics of Biosecurity

Prof. Tom Kompas' work has revolutionised the Australian government's approach to investing in surveillance, border quarantine and containment programs

Image by flickr user asiandevelopmentbank

Climate Change Mitigation and the Green Paradox

The applied research of Prof. Ngo Van Long demonstrates to decision-makers the risks of unintended consequences from climate change mitigation policies

image by Flickr user Jeremy Buckingham

Economic and Social Impacts of Water Trading on Irrigated Agriculture

Dr Sarah Wheeler's work provides objective guidance to policy-makers on contentious water reforms in the Murray-Darling Basin