By 2035, achieve a lasting and positive influence on the national wellbeing by providing enduring support for excellent ecosystem science, improved environmental health, and a sustainable economy.
Foundations for the future outlines six key directions, each with a focus, for building an influential future for Australian ecosystem science:
- Delivering maximum impact for Australia: enhancing relationships between scientists and end users. Improved communication and collaboration between ecosystem scientists, and the people who can use the knowledge and other outputs generated by ecosystem science.
- Supporting long-term research. Dedicated funding for long-term (a decade or longer) ecosystem research, complementing existing support for short-term research.
- Enabling ecosystem surveillance. Development of systematic, appropriately-scaled monitoring of essential ecosystem variables that reflect the health of our ecosystems.
- Making the most of data resources. Sustained infrastructure and capacity for consistent collection, publication and archiving of ecosystem science data and meta-data in standard, easily accessible formats in publicly accessible websites.
- Inspiring a generation: empowering the public with knowledge and opportunities. A general public that is inspired, informed and empowered with knowledge and understanding of Australian ecosystems through enhanced education programs and improved access to people and stories from ecosystem science.
- Facilitating coordination, collaboration and leadership. A more collaborative and coordinated ecosystem science community through the ‘Ecosystem Science Council’, which will provide leadership to implement the Foundations for the future Plan by working with all relevant discipline areas, organisations, societies and professions.
The Council operates under agreed Terms of Reference. It complements the roles of existing groups, societies and organisations in ecosystem science by acting as a vehicle for collaboration and coordinated action across the community. The Council will coordinate, and be involved with, a number of working groups to enable progress towards each of the six key directions of Foundations for the future.
The underlying theme of Foundations for the future is that excellent science should support a range of activities, including public engagement, that enable us to understand and maintain healthy ecosystems. Those healthy ecosystems are the cornerstone of our social and economic wellbeing.
To support achievement of this vision, the Council applies seven guiding principles throughout its activities:
- Working to our shared vision: All efforts are in support of the vision articulated in Foundations for the future. This shared purpose remains the primary focus of individual and collective efforts.
- Strength in diversity: A diversity of disciplines and approaches is required to enhance our understanding of ecosystems, and the contributions of all are appreciated and valued.
- Positive and innovative: A proactive approach is vital, to look for new opportunities to advance towards our shared vision and to seek solutions to challenges that arise.
- Effective communication: All activities are grounded in openness and transparency, with respectful expression of ideas and opinions and active listening to the perspectives of others.
- Reliable and trustworthy: Everyone takes individual responsibility for their roles, ownership of problems, and pride in the quality of work carried out in support of the vision.
- Collaborative and supportive: In working to a shared vision with a diverse community, opportunities will be sought to share ideas and to collaborate across disciplines and institutions.
- Accountability: Each individual holds her or himself, and others, accountable to these principles.
Roles and Responsibilities
The roles and responsibilities of the Ecosystem Science Council are:
1) To oversee the implementation of Foundations for the future (the Plan) and coordinate periodic revisions of it in collaboration with the ecosystem science community. To that end, the Council will:
- Develop an implementation strategy for the Plan, including targets for progress
- Seek funding where necessary to develop and implement the Plan
- Create working groups to implement the Plan. Each of these groups will be responsible for developing and implementing work plans and reporting on progress to the Council. The Council is responsible for maintaining communication and coordination across working groups.
2) To act as an advocacy group for ecosystem science. In that role, the Council will:
- Build strong relationships with end-users of ecosystem science, in the public and private sectors, so that: (a) needs of end users are better represented to the research community, and (b) needs of the ecosystem science community for financial and other support are advocated.
- Engage with the ecosystem science community to increase participation in the Plan through regular communication about completed, ongoing, and planned activities and to ensure that participation is open to all.
Become the ecosystem science representative body on policy-setting advisory panels and related bodies to influence the national science, resource use, resource development and human population agendas.
The following capabilities are considered to be important to the success of the Ecosystem Science Council.
- Skilled and expert members of the Council and its working groups, inclusive of experience in high level strategic planning and implementation
- Diverse representation of the breadth of ecosystem science interests in the membership of Council and its working groups
- Strong ability to create effective partnerships in Australia and internationally
- Strong skills in writing applications for funding and resources to support the work of the Council
- Strong skills in active and engaged communication with diverse stakeholder groups
- A focus on science-based solutions for meeting societal and environmental challenges
- Ability to link effectively to policy formulation and development cycles in government
- Ability to link effectively to industry and business
- Ability to produce timely outputs to keep pace with changing societal and environmental challenges
- Good governance experience to ensure sustained and effective productivity and financial security
- Champions within and external to ecosystem science