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Solving Australia’s greatest challenges with the help of science and technology has never been more important – for our quality of life, for the economic health of our nation, and for our contribution and position in a globally competitive world.

Today, Australia’s economy has strong jobs growth and business conditions indicative of sustained business investment. We’ve had nearly three decades of economic growth, and our quality of life is arguably the envy of the world.

Some concerning trends are emerging that mean we need to think differently if we are going to ensure, and plan, towards a bright and prosperous future.

Wage growth has slowed, and house prices have surged in real terms over the past two decades. Our growing but ageing population is placing greater stress on our cities and infrastructure. On important international measures the performance of our schools is falling.

New and seemingly disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence, are posing new challenges as we grapple with how to harness them, and at the same time protect our information and our way of life. And we are being challenged to ensure we develop great new jobs and people with the right skills in Australia to perform them.

Our environment is under significant pressure. Australia has always had to face a harsh environment and adapt to its conditions, but rising sea temperatures, drought, floods and an uncertain energy path ahead are testing even our greatest resolve. Global warming is not in any doubt. Without significant action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we could be on a path to 4°C global warming (or worse) by 2100.

Our place in the region and the region’s impact on us needs consideration, as Asia’s population continues to grow, and many Asian economies are becoming more competitive.

If we can understand future challenges and opportunities, plan and act – our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren will be able to enjoy a great quality of life. This cannot be the responsibility of government alone. Business, the education and community sectors, other non-government organisations and individuals all play a role.

It’s this understanding that helped to bring together more than 50 leaders from 22 organisations across sectors, to work with CSIRO as part of the second Australian National Outlook project (ANO 2019).

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