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New research partnership to champion water security for Northern Australia

Published:16 November 2021

Three universities with headquarters in the north are partnering with the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) to develop a comprehensive program of research focused on water security in Northern Australia.

CQUniversity (CQU), Charles Darwin University (CDU) and James Cook University (JCU) will partner with the CRCNA to jointly deliver flagship research activities which address water infrastructure and security knowledge gaps required to inform key decision-making.

CRCNA CEO Anne Stünzner said the investment partnership will deliver a program of works across several transformative research initiatives across the north.

“We are seeing enormous interest from the private and corporate sector in underpinning water investment for agricultural production. This partnership acknowledges the full potential of Northern Australia and this co-investment is a vital opportunity to demonstrate that agricultural growth and environmentally healthy and sustainable eco-systems can coexist in a water context.”

Some of the areas the CRCNA are interested in addressing through this co-investment include improving governance models around water resource allocations, including First Nations’ interests, addressing water security to better support agricultural diversification and water trading opportunities and improving water service delivery to remote and regional areas, including First Nations’ communities.

Mrs Stünzner said the objective of the program of research activities is to de-risk the Northern Australia investment and development landscape by improving water sustainability across the region and providing a pathway for the future development of key sectors as well as improving the health and wellbeing of the north’s communities.

CQU Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp said the partnership was a strong example of institutions working together for the future sustainability of Northern Australia.

“Northern Australia makes up almost half the land mass of our vast continent, with an urgent need for new knowledge and innovative solutions across environmental, industrial and cultural dimensions,” Professor Klomp said.

“We’re confident that the research activities of Northern Australia will go from strength-to-strength over the coming years as a result of this collaboration.”

CDU Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman said the partnership would enhance CDU’s existing research capabilities, with water infrastructure and security a key driver for developing Northern Australia.

“This exciting partnership will put the Territory at the forefront of water infrastructure and security research – and ensure a sustainable future for Northern Australia,” Professor Bowman said.

“This program will lead to the future development of agriculture, food and aquaculture industries, improve health outcomes for Territorians and assist business development opportunities for First Nations’ businesses.”

JCU Vice-Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said the new research partnership will harness the collective knowledge of all three universities and maximise water security into the future.

“Our aspiration is to grow and deploy our collective strengths, expertise and presence in research areas that matter to develop and retain the skills and capabilities of industry and community across Northern Australia,” Professor Harding said.

“Being based in the north, all three universities share both the context and operating challenges that are unique to Northern Australia to push the boundaries of water research to help secure water supply and security to Northern Australia for years to come.”