Southern California and Southern Australia are two regions of the world which share many climatic, socioeconomic and demographic characteristics that lend themselves to meaningful exchanges of knowledge and innovations. With the benefit of Australia’s documented experiences, California can learn what solutions worked and did not work in Australia, potentially avoiding major pitfalls. While some changes in California are already underway, many opportunities – and challenges – still remain. California’s policymakers and residents can adopt and adapt the most fitting solutions from Australia’s experience. California, and especially Southern California, can use these to appropriately and effectively respond to the extremes of our long-term water and climate crises. In doing so, we will put California on a better path towards resilience as we navigate the challenges of drought, flood and extreme heat forecast to increase in our future.
In October 2014, TreePeople and The Energy Coalition co-organized and co-led a delegation of policymakers and elected officials from throughout California to the Australian cities of Melbourne and Adelaide. These cities implemented innovative water management solutions during the Millennium Drought that helped to drought-proof their water supplies and increase resilience in anticipation of a changing climate. The goals of this delegation were to show California water leaders first-hand the drought and climate response initiatives that Adelaide and Melbourne employed and to focus on transferring and implementing viable approaches in California.
This article highlights the key lessons learned from this research and provides recommendations for how Southern California can best approach transferring these lessons.