The coming decade will see the culmination of a unique set of challenges: decarbonisation of our economy, managing the transition of industries, anticipating an increasingly uncertain global environment, training the workforce needed for new industries and, simultaneously, an increasingly digital future.
Australia faces multiple challenges. The pandemic and geopolitical events have exposed vulnerabilities in our supply chains and economy. Our way of life is under threat from climate change and climate-induced disasters such as the Black Summer and recent floods.
Our country has a unique opportunity to position itself as a technological powerhouse driven by a carbon neutral and sustainable economy, a highly skilled workforce and world-class research activity and commercialisation. ATSE believes that scientific and technological advances must be nurtured and translated into novel innovations to achieve this aspiration of a technology-powered, human-driven future.
In the lead up to the 2022 Federal Election and beyond, ATSE calls on all political parties to commit to a future which is:
- Technology enabled: The development and industrial implementation of new technologies is essential to facilitate a future of economic growth and high standards of living.
- Resilient: There must be sufficient resources and adaptability to tackle the challenges of the future, including natural disasters, the impacts of climate change, geopolitical uncertainty, and cyberattacks, through new and emerging technologies and retraining displaced workers in the decarbonising economy with future-focused digital skills.
- Sustainable: Environmental, social, and economic sustainability are critical to enable a high quality of life for Australians into the future. This must include the development of sovereign manufacturing capabilities and a transition to a circular economy.
- Decarbonised: As natural resources deplete and the effects of climate change proliferate, it is crucial for industrial and economic activities to be carbon neutral. Australia has a unique opportunity to lead in repositioning its current resource dependent economy into a carbon neutral economy based on renewable energy and other new and emerging technologies for a sustainable future.
- Economically diverse: Shifting economic activities toward multiple sources from multiple sectors, expanding domestic markets (within a circular economy) and exports are necessary to embed resilience into the economy.
- Internationally engaged: The most pressing challenges of our time are global, and their solutions require international conversations and collaborations to be effective and Australia needs to take a leadership position in these discussions.
- Human centred: Principally, this vision must be human centred and driven. Economic activity and scientific and technological advancement are enablers to deliver progress that serves all our people and the planet.
These 7 principles are aspirational and should underpin the long-term policies and investments which are needed to realise a technology powered, human driven future. However, to shift the needle in the immediate term, ATSE has identified three national policy priorities and recommendations to fast-track this future:
- Mitigate and adapt to climate change
- Enhance research collaboration, translation, and commercialisation
- Reverse declines in student participation in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) disciplines to create a STEM-equipped workforce
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