Environmental Change - Capability Statement

Printer friendly version

Build Australia’s capacity to respond to environmental change and integrate research outcomes from biological, physical, social and economic systems.


Key facts for the Environmental Change Priority

  • It is estimated that approximately $330 million of the $2.65 billion supporting national priorities is allocated directly to the Environmental Change Priority area.*
  • In terms of citation impact, an indicator of research quality, Australian research on this Priority ranks:
    • 2nd out of 11 when compared against selected Asia Pacific countries **
    • 5th out of 15 when compared to selected European countries, Canada, New Zealand and USA.***
  • 53 per cent of Australian publications are produced with an international co-author.

*  Data on two key initiatives – university research block grants and the R&D taxincentive – are not collected in a way that supports analysis against priorities.
** Selected Asia Pacific countries: China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.
*** Selected European countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

Current research strengths

Australia’s track record in predicting and measuring the impact of environmental changes is world-class. Australia’s existing research strengths include:

  • southern hemisphere oceanography
  • atmospheric science
  • carbon cycling
  • detection and attribution of climate signals
  • innovative interrogation of data
  • seasonal prediction and adaptation
  • quantitative population modelling
  • qualitative social/cultural ethnographic (human impacts).


Practical challenges

  1. Improved accuracy and precision in predicting and measuring the impact of environmental changes caused by climate and local factors.
  2. Resilient urban, rural and regional infrastructure.
  3. Options for responding and adapting to the impacts of environmental change on biological systems, urban and rural communities and industry.


Action within this Priority will support an interdisciplinary approach to environmental change R&D so that policy solutions are informed by the biophysical sciences as well as social, cultural and political research. It will assist Australia to overcome current research weaknesses and take advantage of strengths by:

  • strategically coordinating long-term research investment in environmental change
  • encouraging robust international partnerships involving data sharing and researcher exchanges
  • supporting human resources to run, manage and utilise research infrastructure.

International Citation Comparison, 2010 to 2014

For this Priority, each circle represents one of the comparator countries, grouped into region by colour: circle size represents number of publications, while circle placement indicates the country’s weighted citations relative to Australia. Data are from Thomson Reuters InCites, with the Priority identified by a keyword search.

Australian Government Expenditure on Science and Research Priorities

The Australian government invests $9.7 billion in science, research and innovation. Approximately $2.65 billion of this investment can be attributed to research aligned to the nine Science and Research priorities. Data on university block grants and the R&D tax incentive – two key initiatives that have critical roles in supporting strategic, mission-directed research - are not collected in a way that supports analysis against the priorities.

Sources: 2015-16 Science, Research and Innovation Budget Tables; Research Strategies Australia, Science and Research Priorities and Practical Challenges, May 2015.

Australia’s Science and Research Priorities

Australia’s Science and Research Priorities identify areas that are of immediate and critical importance to the nation and its place in the world. They help align our research to industry and will make sure that we capitalise on our comparative advantages and address challenges.

The Australian Government will use the Priorities to guide a proportion of its research investment to areas of critical need and national importance. This capability snapshot is a vital step to make sure that we get this strategic investment right – it is about understanding what we spend now, what we are good at and where we need to improve.

Share this Page