Barriers, drivers and enablers for transitioning towards innovation in the Australian water sector

Kenny, Jillian, Kumar, Arun, & Desha, Cheryl (2014) Barriers, drivers and enablers for transitioning towards innovation in the Australian water sector. In Practical Responses to Climate Change Conference 2014, Engineers Australia, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 26-34.

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The Australian water sector needs to adapt to effectively deal with the impacts of climate change on its systems. Challenges as a result of climate change include increasingly extreme occurrences of weather events including flooding and droughts (Pittock, 2011). In response to such challenges, the National Water Commission in Australia has identified the need for the water sector to transition towards being readily adaptable and able to respond to complex needs for a variety of supply and demand scenarios (National Water Commission, 2013). To successfully make this transition, the sector will need to move away from business as usual, and proactively pursue and adopt innovative approaches and technologies as a means to successfully address the impacts of climate change on the Australian water sector.

In order to effectively respond to specific innovation challenges related to the sector, including climate change, it is first necessary to possess a foundational understanding about the key elements related to innovation in the sector. This paper presents this base level understanding, identifying the key barriers, drivers and enablers, and elements for innovative practise in the water sector. After initially inspecting the literature around the challenges stemming from climate change faced by the sector, the paper then examines the findings from the initial two rounds of a modified Delphi study, conducted with experts from the Australian water sector, including participants from research, government and industry backgrounds. The key barriers, drivers and enablers for innovation in the sector identified during the initial phase of the study formed the basis for the remainder of the investigation. Key elements investigated were: barriers – scepticism, regulation systems, inconsistent policy; drivers – influence of policy, resource scarcity, thought leadership; enablers – framing the problem, effective regulations, community acceptance.

There is a convincing argument for the water sector transitioning to a more flexible, adaptive and responsive system in the face of challenges resulting from climate change. However, without first understanding the challenges and opportunities around making this transition, the likelihood of success is limited. For that reason, this paper takes the first step in understanding the elements surrounding innovation in the Australian water sector.

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ID Code: 83580
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Australia, Delphi, innovation, sustainability, water
ISBN: 9781922107329 (CD-ROM/​DVD-ROM)
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > CIVIL ENGINEERING (090500) > Water Resources Engineering (090509)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > CRC Integrated Engineering Asset Management (CIEAM)
Current > Schools > School of Civil Engineering & Built Environment
Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Engineers Australia
Deposited On: 15 Apr 2015 00:30
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2016 04:57

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