Year in Review: 2019

Last year we wrote that the 2018 Year in Review arrived as a range of critical environmental issues were devastating Australian communities. Sadly, this remains the message as we write this for the 2019 Year in Review, just with drought, fires, storms and now COVID-19 replacing 2018’s litany. The need for Future Earth Australia’s activities remains acute, as public discourse and action in the private sector continue to demand more action on environmental change. Perhaps more than anything, 2019 highlighted the devastating strength of systemic risks to Australia, and how difficult governments find these to deal with.

It is therefore encouraging that Future Earth Australia’s systems emphasis has shone through the activities completed in 2019 and in those starting in the new year. Most notably, we have completed and released our strongly co-designed ‘Sustainable cities and regions: 10-year strategy to enable urban systems transformation’ which engaged the support of very diverse actors for some high-level visionary and systemic actions. Looking forwards, we are now embarking on another systems-oriented 10 year strategy for oceans and coasts, as well as contributing a systems approach to the national narrative on responding to climate change, both of which you will hear more about in 2020.

Meanwhile, Future Earth Australia has maintained its commitment to supporting the next generation of researchers and practitioners; the steering committee benefited hugely from the insights of our two ECRP representatives, who helped ensure the set of ECRP activities during the year continuously improved. It was exciting to be able to offer some small grants for some of our early-career participants. These grants enabled our early-career alumni to collaborate with their new colleagues and explore new ideas, forged at our workshops.

Overall, it was also encouraging to see the membership of universities and other organisations continue to rise, showing that Future Earth Australia is increasingly delivering value to its members. We hope you enjoy reading this Year in Review to show this value! And we look forward to building it further in 2020.