An international expert has told Burdekin Water Forum delegates a united approach to sustainable water management is vital if the community wants to prevent water scarcity in the future.
Professor Dr Anthony Turton from the Centre for Environmental Management, University of the Free State, South Africa, used his keynote address at the Burdekin Water Forum 2017 to get delegates thinking about the big-picture impacts of human activities on water systems.
Dr Turton said the industrial revolution and the splitting of the atom were two examples of how the world had changed dramatically over the course of just a few short generations.
Calling for science to inform policy reform, he said climate change was empirically verified and deeply complex.
“Bringing stakeholders together and developing trust is very important,” Dr Turton said.
“We’re asking questions now that the previous generations didn’t ask.
“(This) forum is a product of social ingenuity, recognising the need to do something differently. This is the precursor to the technical ingenuity needed to solve these same vexing problems.”
Dr Turton said moving forward, he hoped to see more policies and procedures move away from “needing to be the masters and owners of nature”, into a new model of development “in cooperation with nature”.
Burdekin Shire Council Mayor and Burdekin Water Futures Chair, Lyn McLaughlin, said delegates of the three-day forum, which wraps up today at Burdekin Theatre, had heard from a range of thought-provoking local, state, national and international speakers.
“Our close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef has driven the theme for the forum – Managing Irrigated Agriculture in Great Barrier Reef Catchments,” Cr McLaughlin said.
“Our farmers are proactive in embracing and implementing best management practices to manage on farm irrigation and eliminate unwanted impact on the environment.
“The Burdekin Water Forum 2017 has been a fantastic opportunity for delegates to share, discuss and debate projects and initiatives that have been developed in various communities and environments around Australia. It is pleasing to have seen such a positive response to this event.”
The forum, coordinated by Burdekin Water Futures, continues today with a field trip touring the Burdekin district and showcasing some of the best practices in irrigation management, water storage and supply infrastructure.