InternationalCountries in the Asia and Pacific regions face daunting environmental pressures that threaten economic growth and poverty reduction. Foremost of these challenges are managing the adverse impacts of development, escalating demand for natural resources, and climate change. CSIRO adaptation research contributes to the Australian government’s efforts to support our neighbours to manage these challenges, both by delivering project results on-ground and by helping our aid program deliver its outcomes more effectively.

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Research for Development Alliance

The DFAT-CSIRO Research for Development (R4D) Alliance was a strategic partnership aimed to reduce global poverty by improving the impact of Australia’s aid through evidence-based research and capability building within-country partner institutions. The Alliance brought together the research skills of CSIRO and our research partners with the development knowledge and networks of Australian aid in order to support Australia’s efforts to reduce global poverty and build the capability of in-country partner institutions.  Research efforts for this $22M suite of projects focused on complex global development challenges in the domains of climate, water resources, sustainable cities, and food security. These challenges are dynamic and multi-sectoral, and impact across borders, hitting poor people hardest. Six major projects were implemented over a 4-year period from 2009 and have underpinned partner government initiatives in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Mekong region.

For more information see the Research for Development Alliance website

Agriculture and global change

‘Agriculture and global change’ includes CSIRO Agriculture’s international ‘research for development’ activity, including research in greenhouse gas mitigation, climate adaptation and innovation systems.

Climate change on key Pacific production systems

Communities in the Pacific Island countries reliant on agriculture-based livelihood systems have been identified as particularly at risk from both climate variability and change.  Both adverse climate mean states as well as climatic extremes often result in widespread crop failures, new patterns of pests and diseases, loss of rural livelihoods and in some cases malnutrition.  In the future as climatic mean states and extremes change this may result in lack of appropriate seed and plant material, inappropriate farm practises, loss of livestock and potential loss of arable land.

Recent shortfalls in Pacific agricultural production resulting from changing export markets, commodity prices, climatic variation, population growth and urbanisation, have provided insights into the potential scale of regional food insecurity that could occur.  To date there have been limited activities in the Pacific to improve food production through enhanced climate resilience, particularly where farm management practise is adjusted to account for both climate variability and change.

Women play a critical role in agriculture in terms of subsistence farming and growing cash crops for markets. Their role is critical in terms of planting, managing and harvesting of crops, especially in staple crops. However, often technological on-farming solutions and trainings focus on men in the Pacific. Engaging women in programmes to understand their needs, priorities and concerns will be critical to ensuring agriculture becomes more resilient to changes and shocks within the Pacific, and to ensuring sustainability of the farming system of staples.

The aim of this project is to understand the impact of climate change on key Pacific production systems – specifically those based on the staple root crops, such as sweet potato, taro and cassava. To achieve this aim, the project will adhere to a number of objectives.  These include:

  • To understand the responses of sweet potato, cassava and taro crops to existing environmental drivers (climate, soil and nutrient interactions).
  • To understand the responses of sweet potato, cassava and taro crops to enhanced CO2
  • To develop and enhance the capacity to model crop and cropping system responses for these three pacific staples (within the APSIM framework).
  • To identify promising strategies for farming systems adaptation to respond to both climate variability and change, with both men and women as a key focus as actors.
  • To examine the economic value of specific operational seasonal climate forecasts (SCF) in supporting agronomic management decisions for the production of these three Pacific staples.

For more information contact Steve Crimp.

Food Systems Innovation

Food Systems Innovation is a research for development initiative, with the aim of supporting continuous innovation in the Australian agriculture and food aid program by assisting projects and programs to share lessons and connect with up to-date international experience and good practice.   It started as a partnership between Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and CSIRO. This partnership has now ended and CSIRO is hosting the website.

For more information contact Andrew Hall or check out the Food Systems Innovation website.

Adaptive livelihoods and development

Attaining climate compatible development for vulnerable rural communities demands an alternative approach to planning and decision making based on adaptation pathways principles (e.g. identifying ‘no regrets’ strategies). However, this requires existing development planning to transform and apply practices and structures in common with adaptive co-management, which is challenging in developing countries with limited stakeholder capacity and entrenched power dynamics.

For more information contact James Butler

Climate change science

CSIRO is providing critical climate scientific research, user-friendly products and capacity building services in South East Asia and 15 Pacific countries.

For more information contact Kevin Hennessy, Jack Katzfey, Dewi Kirono and Geoff Gooley

International Water Research and Development

The aim of this work is to increase access to safe water and inform policies and strategies that support effective water resource management.

For more information contact Peter Wallbrink

Australia-Indonesia Centre Megatrends

The Australia-Indonesia Centre (AIC) was formed in 2014 to strengthen and deepen Australia-Indonesia business, government, education, research, and community links. It has the goal of ‘building greater research collaboration between Australia and Indonesia in areas of shared challenge.  CSIRO was invited by the AIC to assist with the Cluster planning process by applying its ‘foresighting’ approach, which can analyse key trends in each theme (Agriculture and Food, Infrastructure, Health, and Energy) towards 2030 and beyond.