Media ReleaseFire & Flood Resilience23 Apr 2020

Mission to lift national resilience in uncertain climate

Minderoo Foundation today launched a new program to build national disaster resilience in the wake of Australia’s cataclysmic 2019-20 bushfire season.

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Minderoo Foundation today launched a new program to build national disaster resilience in the wake of Australia’s cataclysmic 2019-20 bushfire season preceded by long-term drought and now followed by major flooding and COVID-19.  

Minderoo Foundation’s Wildfire Disaster and Resilience Program (WDRP) will create a base of evidence to take action where it’s needed most in preparing for the upcoming 2020-21 fire season, beginning in August, as well as Australia’s future natural disasters. 

The focus of the WDRP is to drive a new model for global leadership in climate-induced disaster resilience, which will reduce social, environmental and economic hardship. The Program will deliver short term interventions across enhanced prediction and response, resilient landscapes and resilient communities while concurrently focusing on long term systemic change. 

Minderoo Foundation Chairman Dr Andrew Forrest AO said the WDRP would see Australia emerge as the global leader in climate-induced fire and flood resilience by 2030. 

“Today I’m proud to announce the program has already formed partnerships with leading organisations and experts ready to quickly boost Australia’s preparedness for the kinds of challenges we’ve faced this year, as well as to collaborate on the development of a long-term Disaster Resilience Blueprint for lasting impact,” Dr Forrest said. 

Minderoo Foundation has committed AU$50 million to the program already and is targeting AU$500 million of direct and indirect commitments, including in-kind contributions, from local and globally aligned partners. 

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said Australia had experienced many challenges this year, with bushfire affected communities facing further devastation by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Community resilience is key to recovery, that’s why I’m pleased to see the launch of the Minderoo Foundation Wildfire and Disaster Resilience Program, which came out of the recent bushfires, but now has significant relevance to COVID-19,” Minister Andrews said.

“In supporting efforts to build resilience in fire affected communities, the learnings from this program are very relevant to the current COVID-19 environment and will help mobilise volunteering and resilience and recovery efforts. It’s great to see organisations like Minderoo Foundation take a collaborative approach, both locally and globally, to help support and rebuild communities through resilience.” 

Minderoo Foundation CEO Mr Andrew Hagger said partnerships formed so far showed the program’s relevance across philanthropy, industry, government and community.

“I’m incredibly grateful to all our program partners for stepping in at a time when bandwidth is so stretched, including many of the ASX Top 10 companies. Their breadth and diversity underlines how important resilience has become at all levels of the community,” Mr Hagger said.

Led by former Data61 CEO Adrian Turner, the program will operate under the “Mission Model” of innovation, pioneered by the United States Department of Defense to achieve ambitious systemic change and drive concerted investment in game-changing technical solutions to solve complex social and environmental challenges.  

Mr Turner said increased weather volatility due to climate change and the prospect of an even worse fire season whilst still managing the COVID-19 impacts make the program’s work more vital than ever.    

“Our experience of the past few months shows existing technology and systems leave us ill-equipped to deal with large-scale disasters like fire, flood and other unforeseen challenges,” Mr Turner said.  

“We know further threats will come in the future, but we want to transform the shock and anxiety many of us are feeling into a movement for positive action. We will deploy evidence-based solutions to protect communities and the environment. 

“The Mission Model offers a way forward by breaking down problems into discrete units addressed with expert partners. It is a process of collaboration that also builds on the excellent work many are already doing in this space.” 

The WDRP today unveiled a cohort of partners, leading experts and supporters working collaboratively with Minderoo Foundation, including: Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC), Australian Academy of Science, Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), Australian Red Cross, Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, Business Council of Australia (BCA), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CommBank), Conservation International (CI), Fortescue Metals Group, IAG, Insurance Council Australia (ICA), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), KPMG, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, Munich Re, National Australia Bank (NAB), National Bushfire Recovery Agency, Optus, Suncorp, Telstra, The B Team Australasia, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), The Salvation Army Australia, Wesfarmers, Westpac, World Wide Fund For Nature, and others.

Immediate early stage interventions, aligning with the upcoming 2020-21 bushfire season, include: 

  • assessing the use of new unmanned firefighting technologies and new situational awareness capabilities for Australia’s emergency services;
  • helping to build an evidence base for indigenous fuel load management;
  • enhancing release and monitoring recovery of wildlife as they return to their habitat;
  • empowering small business in disaster prone areas; and
  • commencing development of a global resilience data collective as an open platform for lifting community resilience.

To learn more, visit the Wildfire and Disaster Resilience Program page.

Minderoo Foundation
by Minderoo Foundation

Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with eight key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.

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