Water efficiency, food security and environmental sustainability will be the focus of a new joint research centre between Australia and China, officially launched in Beijing last week.
The Australia-China Joint Research Centre for River Basin Management, led by the University of Melbourne, will provide both countries with a new capacity to address national priorities for water resources management.
This includes water catchment management, water productivity, environmental and rural community sustainability as well as technical and research capacity in these areas.
Professor Peter Scales, Deputy Dean of the Melbourne School of Engineering, said that the centre will involve expertise from across Australia, including the CSIRO, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and the University of Western Sydney.
In China, the Centre will be supported by ten partners, including the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Ministry for Water Resources and Tsinghua University.
Professor Scales said the new centre is well placed to respond to global needs.
“Maximising water security and efficiency, while preserving water ecosystems, is a global challenge exacerbated by changing climates and rapidly increasing populations.
“This joint research centre will act as a research incubator to address national priorities for water resources management, increase water productivity and hence food security and economic returns while protecting water ecosystems,” said Professor Scales.
The Centre was one of six recently announced Joint Research Centres co-funded by both the Australian and Chinese governments, as part of the Australia-China Science and Research Fund (ACSRF).
The Centre builds on the work by the Australia-China Centre on Water Resources Research based at the University of Melbourne.
Five flagship research programs that build on, and exchange, findings from major national programs in Australia and China will be established, as will a showcase of new technologies for improving water efficiency and water quality.
“We’re confident that the centre will help forge an ongoing alliance between science, innovation and industry between our two countries,” said Professor Scales.
“It will bring Australia significant environmental benefit through a vastly increased knowledge base including the lessons of water over-development in China, while providing access to China’s water management science and technology.”