CPD welcomes new CSIRO missions for Australia’s recovery and resilience

Today Australia’s national science agency, the CSIRO, has announced a suite of new ‘missions’ – major scientific and research collaborations aimed at achieving breakthroughs in response to Australia’s most pressing challenges. 

In a National Press Club address to announce the new missions, CSIRO CEO Dr Larry Marshall described the program as part of a wider “mission of recovery and resilience” as Australia rebuilds from the COVID-19 crisis. “While COVID-19 will undoubtedly continue to disrupt, Australia will come together through this crisis and build a strong future in the process. We are calling for partners to join this Team Australia approach to solving what seem like unsolvable problems,” Dr Marshall said.

The CSIRO’s new program builds on growing global momentum for mission-oriented responses to pressing policy challenges. UCL Professor Mariana Mazzucato, who visited Australia as CPD’s guest in 2018 to deliver our John Menadue Oration, has been a global pioneer on mission thinking and driving a more collaborative, entrepreneurial role for the state in solving big problems. Mariana’s program in Australia included engagements with leading policymakers, institutions and innovators, including the CSIRO. It is encouraging to see these ideas taking hold, especially at a time when a mission-oriented approach can offer to much for Australia’s recovery and rebuilding process. 

The new CSIRO program includes a new mission on building a new national climate risk capability to help navigate climate risk uncertainty. This responds directly to two key challenges that CPD has highlighted through our influential work on climate risk: the need for consistent, comparable data to enable better climate disclosure and responses, and the need for scaled up collaboration on climate across the public and private sectors. 

Most recently, our November 2019 Business Roundtable on Climate and Sustainability emphasised the need for “a significant ramp up in the availability and quality of decision-relevant information … in order for climate change to be appropriately addressed in the Australian economy.” It also highlighted that “more effective collaboration and leadership across the public and private sectors is an essential condition to understand and respond to climate risk.” It concluded that that now was the time for a collaborative new economy-wide mission “to understand how climate risk impacts our financial system and economy, and what can be done about it.”

This new mission can help build more sophisticated, authoritative and accessible data on climate risk for companies and consumers, and support a more collaborative approach to the climate-related risks and opportunities that will shape Australia’s economic future. We will continue to work closely with the CSIRO as work continues towards the formal launch of the mission. 

CPD CEO Travers McLeod said that the mission provides exactly the sort of launching pad Australia needs for greater public-private collaboration on climate risk. “New models for public-private sector collaboration are even more crucial as we recover and rebuild from bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic” he said. “We are delighted to see CSIRO stepping up to this challenge and look forward to continuing to work with the CSIRO team as the mission rolls out in coming months.”