United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


Australian Mission to the United Nations E-mail australia@un.int
150 East 42nd Street, New York NY 10017-5612 Ph 212 - 351 6600 Fax 212 - 351 6610 www.AustraliaUN.org
Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting for the 17th Session of
the Commission on Sustainable Development
25 February 2009
Drought Session
Statement by Mr Stuart McKay
Member of the Australian Delegation
(Check against delivery)
Madam chair
As parts of our country endure an unusually long and widespread drought,
Australia finds this discussion on drought very relevant and timely.
Australia would like to thank the distinguished panel for its contributions.
Australia considers the Secretary-General?s report provides a good overview of
responses to the challenges and obstacles highlighted in the discussions on
drought at CSD 16.
On drought policy, Australia supports the concept of self reliance and believes
that governments should provide a policy framework that allows producers to
prepare for, and cope with, drought.
Australia promotes approaches which:
? encourage primary producers and other sections of rural communities to
adopt self-reliant approaches for managing climate variability;
? maintain and protect the agricultural and environmental resource base
during periods of extreme climate stress; and
? ensure early recovery of agricultural and rural industries, consistent with
long-term sustainable levels.
In supporting these approaches, Australia notes that climate change is likely to
lead to increased frequency and severity of extreme climatic events, such as
- 2 -
Analysis by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics
indicates that climate changes and associated declines in agricultural productivity
and global economic activity may affect global production of key commodities.
For example wheat, beef, dairy and sugar production could decline by two to six
per cent by 2030 and by five to 11 per cent by 2050, compared to a ?no climate
change impacts? scenario.
In response, Australia supports integrating adaptation responses into agricultural
and natural resource management programs and policies.
As an example, the Australian Government launched a partnership with the
CSIRO and Mekong River Commission to develop climate change prevention
and adaptation strategies in the Mekong Basis, with a focus on food security in
Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
Farming communities will also need crop varieties with greater tolerance to direct
and indirect climate change stresses, such as drought and heat, and pest and
disease threats respectively, to adapt to climate change. Australia also supports
investment in more efficient and sustainable irrigation and farming practices.
Australia is pleased to note the work of the Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, the
International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and the
Global Crop Diversity Trust in ensuring the conservation, sustainable use and
access to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.
Finally, Australia would like to note that research and development has
contributed to the continuing strong growth in Australia?s agricultural productivity,
despite ongoing fluctuations in international markets and seasonal conditions.
Examples of successful projects include: improved weather forecasting tools,
better water management models and crop species, which help farmers in
making decisions on the best cropping and pasture systems to use in the face of
changing climatic conditions.
Thank you Madam Chair