Implications of climate change for an agriculture agency

The agency is a government department charged with supporting, developing and enhancing the agriculture sector, including supporting agricultural exports and international market access. It is also responsible for regulating biosecurity, food safety, animal welfare, licensing and compliance, as well as coordinating planning for, responding to and recovering from disasters, including natural disasters and biosecurity incidents. The agency wanted to identify threats and opportunities associated with climate change to help it develop strategic and business plans.

A qualitative risk assessment was undertaken in two stages. On the first pass, risk priorities were assigned based directly on the impact and likelihood ratings assigned by the participants. In the second pass, the participants reviewed and adjusted the initial priorities to reflect their agreed view of the agency’s risk outlook.

Climate change involves significant uncertainty in the risk management context as well as in the emergence of risk. An iterative approach to risk assessment, described here, is important when there is high uncertainty in the climate scenarios. Some risks can be addressed using information that is available currently, but others require more detailed information and analysis, sometimes including quantitative risk analysis, to support useful decisions.

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