Pathways to Futures

In Central Western Queensland the current drought emergency stimulated a range of responses including the Community Drought Leadership Groups with their toolkits enabling communities to develop drought response plans and make the most of existing resources.

Building on these initiatives and recognising the importance of assisting regional communities focus on longer term thinking and planning, in August 2015 the Remote Area Planning and Development Board invited Professor John Cole OAM, Executive Director of USQ’s Institute for Resilient Regions to conduct a series of workshops to engage community participation in a creative process structured around the following questions:

  1. What is the longer-term future for central western Queensland?
  2. What are the options for sustainable development in our region?
  3. How do we make our communities as resilient as possible?

By working cooperatively across the region with key stakeholders in each local authority district the aim of the workshop series was to assist in strengthening community resilience by elevating leadership focus beyond the current drought emergency to the opportunities that might be developed sustainably and which inevitably would involve innovation of some form or another.

There are many possible or plausible futures for the region. Regional development is the outcome of a complex interplay of a myriad of factors, reflecting in part the capacities of local leadership and decision-making as well as community understanding and involvement in developing the narrative and exploring the possibilities. Compounding these considerations is the magnitude of innovation happening more generally in the world which bears directly on the future for regional communities.

Sustainable development means development that takes account of the needs of future generations as well as today’s. ‘Sustainable’ means ‘able to continue indefinitely’. So by definition, sustainable development for central western
Queensland will be long term in its ambition and capacity, resilient, and anchored in contemporary communities.

The human capital factor is crucial to building sustainable development, making regions resilient and achieving a preferred future for the people. In itself, resilience is not an end, but is actually a function of a thriving regional system.

To build resilience, crucial enabling factors in a region or community have to be assured and developed.