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Sydney climate partnership wins top prize

August 19, 2009

A team of CSIRO, University of the Sunshine Coast, WWF and Sydney Coastal Councils Group researchers has been awarded a prestigious Australian Museum Eureka Prize for advising Sydney councils about how they might adapt to climate change.

The pioneering study, which brought together social and physical scientists, local governments and community groups, developed an innovative, transferable method for assessing regional climate change vulnerability in cities.

"Climate hazards like heat waves and storm surges are significant, but we found socio-economic factors and decision making are likely to play an equally significant role in driving the impacts of climate change," says CSIRO's Dr Ben Preston.

According to Professor Tim Smith, of the University of the Sunshine Coast, helping local governments reduce the vulnerability of communities, businesses, and other stakeholders to the impacts of climate change is a major challenge.

"Our team proposed steps for local governments to build that capacity," Professor Smith says. "More significantly, we've also helped build a conversation on climate change within and between local governments."

Local governments in the Sydney coastal region represent 1.3 million people, and Sydney Coastal Councils Group executive officer Geoff Withycombe says councils have welcomed this practical solution.

"This research has equipped local government with recommendations to build ongoing capacity and effectively implement adaptation strategies now and into the future," Mr Withycombe says.

NSW Premier Nathan Rees presented the team with the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change Eureka Prize for Innovative Solutions to Climate Change.

The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are Australia's premier science awards for excellence in the fields of scientific research and innovation, science leadership, school science and science journalism and communication.
The research was funded under the Australian Government Department of Climate Change's Adaptation program.

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CSIRO Australia

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