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About MDB Futures

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September 2013: Dr Peter O’Brien giving an ‘Introduction to the CRN’

Description of talk ‘overview of what the Murray-Darling Basin Futures Collaborative Research Network and what it is about’

My name's Peter O'Brien and I'm Director of Murray-Darling Basin Futures. This is a collaborative research network that's located in the University of Canberra.

Our focus is on building research quality and capacity and applying it to the challenges of the Murray-Darling Basin We work closely with a number of other universities and with government departments that have responsibilities in the Basin. And as well, we're spending a lot of time working with the communities and in the environment of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Over time, our work's going to make a difference to how environmental watering's delivered; to the governance and institutional arrangements in the Basin; to our understanding of the drivers of change and structural adjustment in the Basin; and we'll seek to bring it all together so that it can better inform communities and managers who have an interest in  securing a more sustainable and prosperous future for the communities of the Murray-Darling Basin.
murray darling river

Download a brochure  about the MDBfutures CRN (PDF)

This collaborative research network, led by the University of Canberra, is built on collaboration between cross-disciplinary research leaders across four Australian universities and partnership with key government agencies.

This has been a fantastic opportunity to grow research quality and capacity through multi-disciplinary research collaboration between the University of Canberra and its partners - and to focus that excellence on a critical national issue.

MDBfutures (Murray-Darling Basin Futures Collaborative Research Network) has contributed to the knowledge for the sustainable development of the Murray-Darling Basin. We have brought many research disciplines and collaborators to this complex task. The research has focused on the critical task of building resilience in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Funding was used to deliver a multi-disciplinary research program which spanned:

  • environmental science;
  • social and economic modelling;
  • public policy;
  • public health; and
  • urban and regional planning.

MDBfutures was a $14m investment which included $6.3m in funding from the Department of Education (previously Dept of Innovation, Industry, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education) over four years commencing in 2011, and through the contributions of collaborating partners.

The sustainable use of water, with the attendant environmental, social, health and economic impacts, is a major international problem, starkly evident in the Basin. This partnership brought together a network producing research of the highest internationally recognised quality, which provided new insights into building resilience in the Basin, and an evidence base for sustainable rural communities, public policy and resource management, particularly implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, a requirement of the Water Act (2007).

We focused around four core themes which helped with the critical task of building resilience in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Theme 1  Drivers of change - understanding and integrating the economic, social, health and environmental drivers of change in the Murray-Darling Basin

Theme 2  Environmental watering and allocation - understanding and optimising water requirements, diversity, ecosystem services and productive water uses in the Murray-Darling Basin

Theme 3  Better governance, planning and management - innovative approaches for the Murray-Darling Basin

Theme 4  Synthesis - integrating water, communities and environment


MDBfutures is supported by the Australian Government's Collaborative Research Networks program.