SEGRA Comes to a Close
As SEGRA comes to a close for 2019, the national conference created some memorable moments and fulfilled its goals to be Australia’s most credible and independent voice on issues affecting reginal, rural and remote Australia.
The passion for regional Australia shone brightly and the delegates had the opportunity to choose from over 40 case studies drawn from regional Australia.
Four key themes emerged: strategic foresight, place-based approaches to regional development, building healthy and vibrant communities and sustainability with a particular focus on water and the Murray Darling Basin.
In looking at strategic foresight several themes emerged from the presentations:
- Tailoring policies to regional differences
- Enhancing planning and foresight capability for regions
- Investing in human capital and adaptive capacity of business and communities
- Investing in connectivity and infrastructure
- Institutional reform for development
- Managing risk
- Supporting collaboration within and beyond regions
- Investing in inclusion and liveability outcomes
In investigating place-based approaches several key elements emerged:
- That it is a long-term strategy aimed at tackling persistent underutilisation of potential resources and reducing persistent social exclusion in specific places through external intervention and multi-level governance
- In a place-based policy - public interventions rely on local knowledge
- Linkages among places are to be taken into account
- The essence of a place-based approach is that it relates to a specific but not static scale and footprint and assumes plasticity in institutional arrangements
Leadership capability was given high priority with many case studies highlighting leadership programs in the regions. Some key qualities of leaders were identified as follows:
- Know how to manage complexity and are skilled at solving problems and making decision under fast-changing conditions.
- Managing global business
- Strategic skills the focus is much shorter and continuously under review
- Regions need to be putting renewed emphasis on breakthrough innovation.
- Leverage Networks
- Inspire engagement
- Personal adaptability
- Cultivate learning agility
Sustainability of our regions is always a key theme of SEGRA with water a particularly strong consideration.
- Renewable Energy boom is currently underway in the electricity sector with the number and capacity of proposed and possible wind, solar and pumped-hydro projects far outstripping the capacity of the energy network, or grid.
- Managing the Catchment Systems’ holistically: maximising collaborative governance to deliver integrated catchment and water cycle management and harness the socio-economic benefits of ecosystem services.
- Maximising the economic potential of production and conservation landscapes, local and regional creative and entrepreneurial forces, and innovative commercial enterprise
- Utilising the knowledge and value systems of ‘Traditional Owners’ to enhance environmental management practices and the attainment of sustainability goals: interfacing traditional and safe water approaches to reduce human and environmental health risks and achieve biodiversity outcomes.
- Quality strategic planning at the landscape scale
Key take home messages I heard during the conference included:
- Increasing need for systems thinking capability in wide ranging regional organisations
- Leaders are not always ‘the most obvious person in the room”
- The immediately ‘best idea’ is not always the best idea – welcome all ideas and try to keep them alive as long as possible
- Think long term act short term
- Think of place-based service as a co- production