Enhancing Social Learning for Sustainable Catchment Management in Victoria, Australia
While the ancient Australian landscape is renowned as being ‘old, flat and salty’ water underpins the wellbeing of Australian society, its economic development and unique biodiversity. Despite this, legislation, policy tools and market driven strategies intended to protect, enhance and manage Australia’s natural water resources have been disjointed, predominantly used in isolation and remain insufficient to catalyse sustainable water management. Inspired by the limitations of these usual policy tools, a social learning approach to managing water at the catchment scale is gaining international prominence. Comprehensive evidence exists to suggest that as a complementary policy tool, deliberate investment in social learning at the catchment scale can achieve large scale change on an individual and institutional level. Drawing on the findings of a co-operative inquiry undertaken with the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CMA), in south-west Victoria (Australia), this paper will examine the conducive and constraining factors for using and facilitating a social learning approach as a complementary management tool for integrated catchment management in Australia. It will also discuss the extent to which, and in what ways enhanced social learning for catchment sustainability contributes to broader policy objectives such as building the social capital that underpins resilient and sustainable communities, and improvements in the conservation status of natural resources.
Keywords: Social Learning, Integrated Catchment Management, Water, Policy, Australia
PhD Scholar, School of Global Studies Social Science and Planning, RMIT University