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ISC and its partners organised the 9th edition of the Science Summit around the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA78) on 12-29 September 2023.
The role and contribution of science to attaining the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be the central theme of the Summit. The objective is to develop and launch science collaborations to demonstrate global science mechanisms and activities to support the attainment of the UN SDGs, Agenda 2030 and Local2030. The meeting will also prepare input for the United Nations Summit of the Future, which will take place during UNGA79 beginning on 12 September 2024.
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Saturday, September 23 • 5:00am - 7:00am
[VIRTUAL] Innovation Policy for sustainability - Reflections from Australian agriculture (230501)

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Agriculture serves as a foundational pillar of Australia's economy, deeply intertwined with its cultural
identity. The nation contributes7.5% of global agricultural land use. With Australia, the sector
encompasses 55% of Australia's land area, drawing upon 24% of its water extractions. Furthermore,
while contributing to 2.5% of the country's value-added GDP and employment, it accounts for 11.6%
of goods and services export earnings by exporting 72% of domestic agriculture production. Over the
past two decades, the agricultural sector has witnessed a 59% increase in gross (real) value. These
gains stand as a testament to the industry's dedication to productivity enhancement. Such
advancements have proven invaluable, providing a cushion against the challenges posed by
prolonged fluctuations in commodity prices. In essence, this resilient growth trajectory ensures a
secure position for producers in the face of long-term price volatilities.
However, Australia’s agriculture grapples with multifaceted challenges, ranging from climate
variability and resource depletion to evolving consumer demands and global market dynamics, while
remaining one of the hardest to abate sectors with respect to emissions. Agriculture in Australia is a
significant source of emissions and is highly trade exposed. Achieving significant change requires
aligning interests of government, industry and society and demands synchronous changes in policies,
technologies and implementation capability. Such moves towards directional innovation are being
advanced to address multiple societal goals simultaneously.
The SDGs serve as a universal framework for addressing pressing global challenges and advancing a
set of broad-ranging and integrated goals. For Australian agriculture, pertinent targets include zero
hunger (SDG 2), clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), climate action (SDG 13), life on land (SDG 15),
and responsible consumption and production (SDG 12). The sector's interdependence with natural
resources, coupled with the imperative to meet these SDGs, necessitates a comprehensive
revaluation of its practices and policies. Factors such as technology adoption, resource management,
and stakeholder engagement play pivotal roles. Delineating the extent to which existing systems
align with the SDGs is a complex undertaking that requires a holistic examination of infrastructure,
practices, and policy.
Innovation emerges as a linchpin for catalysing the transition toward sustainable agricultural
practices. From precision agriculture and agroecological techniques to supply chain optimization and
renewable energy integration, innovation spans a spectrum of opportunities. As Australian
agriculture navigates the path to sustainability, a crucial question arises: Is current innovation policy
sufficiently equipped to guide the sector in the right direction? There is a growing consensus that
while successful in achieving short term incremental goals its ability to bring about more
transformative innovation needed to address the ‘cross-industry, long-term grand societal
challenges’ remains questionable.
An emerging question is whether the agricultural and food sectors should continue to address grand
societal challenges independently or whether a more integrated approach within the food and
national innovation systems is needed. This panel brings to perspective from two major Australian

public sector organisations aiming to support directed innovation for sustainability. Department of
Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research
Organisation (CSIRO) have a set of programs and projects which variously aim to shift innovation
policy, re-format innovation action and build greater capability to do so. These include CSIRO
Missions and Future Science Platforms and internal DAFF projects to explore options for agricultural
innovation policy.
The panel brings together key figures from Australia's agricultural policy domain to deliberate on
significant topics, encompassing (but not limited to) the following:
1. Conceptual issues: Exploring how to define and examine the wide array of innovative
endeavours addressing environmental and social sustainability challenges faced by
Australian agriculture.
2. Innovation Policy: Analysing the traits of Australia's agricultural innovation policy. Is the
present policy adequately equipped to guide the sector? Are appropriate mechanisms for
policy coordination in place?
3. Stakeholder Preparedness: Recognizing that change isn't always embraced, assessing the
willingness and capacity of stakeholders within Australian agriculture to engage and support
the transition.
4. Learning Opportunities: Identifying the lessons that Australian agriculture can glean from
this process, as well as the potential for sharing insights with other nations undergoing a
similar journey.

avatar for Andy Hall

Andy Hall

Senior Principle Scientist, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
Andy Hall is a science and technology policy analyst with a specialization in the study and design of agriculture innovation processes, policies, and practices. Andy did pioneering research on the nature and performance of agricultural innovation systems and more recently has explored... Read More →
avatar for Amelia Olsen-Boyd

Amelia Olsen-Boyd

Executive Manager, Mission-Oriented Innovation, CSIRO
Amelia Olsen-Boyd is Executive Manager- Mission Innovation, Strategy & Design at CSIRO. Amelia leads a multidisciplinary team to identify and develop new missions in collaboration with CSIRO researchers, with a focus on iterative design and portfolio strategy. Prior to joining CSIRO... Read More →
avatar for Heleen Kruger

Heleen Kruger

Heleen Kruger is a social scientist who has been investigating the social and institutional aspects of Australian agriculture for more than 15 years, including projects on community engagement, general surveillance, agricultural innovation systems, area-wide management of pests, social... Read More →
avatar for Rohan Nelson

Rohan Nelson

Rohan Nelson is an institutional economist working on agriculture and natural resource management with ABARES. His current interests include innovation policy in agriculture, and how this nest within national innovation policy. He is also developing an interest in the use of fore... Read More →
avatar for Peat Leith

Peat Leith

Peat Leith leads CSIRO’s Valuing Sustainability Future Science Platform and is project lead for the Sustainability Science Scaffolding Project. His research background as a social scientist in natural resource management across marine and coastal zone management, agriculture has... Read More →
avatar for Michael Battaglia

Michael Battaglia

Michael Battaglia is Mission Lead for Towards net zero mission which looks to build capability to assist Australia's transition to net zero with particular focus on hard to abate sectors (Steel, Agriculture and Transport), regional economies and scaling negative emission technologies... Read More →
avatar for Rajesh Gopalakrishnan Nair

Rajesh Gopalakrishnan Nair

Rajesh Gopalakrishnan Nair is a CERC Postdoctoral Fellow with CSIRO’s Valuing Sustainability Future Science Platform.

avatar for Rajesh Gopalakrishnan Nair

Rajesh Gopalakrishnan Nair

Rajesh Gopalakrishnan Nair is a CERC Postdoctoral Fellow with CSIRO’s Valuing Sustainability Future Science Platform.
avatar for declan kirrane

declan kirrane

Chairman, Science Summit UNGA78
Declan Kirrane is the Founder and Managing Director of ISC Intelligence in Science, the chairman and managing director of the science Summit at the United Nations General assembly, and co-founder of Medicines for Future (MAF). He has over 25 years of experience as a global senior... Read More →
avatar for Mammo Muchie

Mammo Muchie

DST-NRF SARChI Chair Rated Research Professor in Innovation Studies, Tshwane University of Technology
Professor Mammo Muchie did his undergraduate degree in Columbia University, New York, USA and his postgraduate MPhil and DPhil in Science, Technology, and Innovation for Development (STI&D) from the University of Sussex, UK. He is currently a DST-NRF research chair in Innovation Studies... Read More →
avatar for Swati Mehta

Swati Mehta

Guru Nanak Dev University, India
Swati Mehta (PhD) teaches at Punjab School of Economics, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. She is Associate Editor, African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development, Rutledge, Taylor and Francis Group.She was Visiting Researcher, Institute of Economic Research... Read More →

Saturday September 23, 2023 5:00am - 7:00am EDT