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  • Writer's pictureCaterina Sullivan

The Economic Impact of Australia’s Drought

The current drought in Australia has hit as the worst drought on record. It is comparable only to the Federation Drought which occurred at the turn of the last century. This drought has had a major impact not only on the environment but on society as well as the economy.

In the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the goals and targets both touch on extreme weather events, possibly brought about due to climate change. The need for action to be taken on these conditions is vital to ensure the sustainability of our economy, of the people and of our planet.

There is an urgent need to take environmental action in our lives, in the work of government and in businesses around the world. We need to ensure that we are not contributing to the extinction of flora and fauna and the pollution of our soil, water and air, especially the dumping of plastics and non-degradable resources in our natural environment.

For a developed country like Australia, many would assume that water security would not be an issue; however, we are facing a surprisingly severe crisis at the moment with some towns needing to have water trucked in and emergency pipelines being built.

For this current drought, there is not a lot of action we can now take to mitigate the current issue; however, we are able to ensure we take small actions to ease the pressure that is currently being felt by farmers throughout Australia.


What are the impacts?

1. Direct impact on farmers

The drought has a direct impact on farmers economically, with many farmers facing a loss of income due to a decreased production of crops from having inadequate supply of water.

2. Impact on towns reliant on farming

The towns which are then reliant on the income from these farmers being spent on small luxuries such as meals out with their family or purchases of goods from local producers in the town will experience economic hardship.

3. Impact on people in the city relying on produce from farms

There is also an impact on people who live in the city as they will face higher costs of produce which is being trucked and / or flown in from further locations. It is important to note this transportation issue has an additional impact on the environment with the increase of food miles. Scarcity is also a contributing factor to the higher prices.

4. Impact on international trade

Australia participates in international trade of some of our farmed resources. The drought has caused a decrease in our output of international trade as we have less produce to be sending overseas.


What can we do?

1. Support rural communities directly through tourism and purchasing of goods made locally

As often as possible, buy locally. Farmers' markets are a great starting point. If you are from the city, a great way to support rural communities is to carpool with friends to make purchases at farmers' markets or local vendors in those towns. It can make for a great day trip!

2. Buy Australian produce whenever possible at the supermarket

We can support our farmers by purchasing Australian produce before international produce. If you typically buy one variety of apple but it is not available from an Australian farmer, try branching out to a new variety which has been grown in Australia. No time like the present to broaden your horizons.

3. Minimise our water consumption

There are so many ways to minimise water consumption including turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, not turning on the dishwasher until it is full and planting flora which don't require as much water as other plants.

4. Minimise food wastage

We can relieve pressure on the market by ensuring we are not consuming an excessive amount of food through our high statistics of food wastage. Creating a plan for consumption of all food purchased is a great way to do this.

5. For farmers, invest in sustainable agricultural practices

There are a number of sustainable agricultural practices available for farmers to assist in situations such as drought and other extreme weather events. For more information about these practices, please contact us.

6. For government, incentivise farmers to invest in sustainable agricultural practices

By encouraging farmers economically to engage in sustainable agricultural practices, governments will be investing in the long-term beneficial outcomes of these practices instead of needing to budget money for emergency issues, such as drought relief, caused by extreme weather events.

7. For businesses, support other businesses which engage in sustainable agricultural practices

As part of your business' sustainability commitment, you can choose to procure your produce from providers which engage in sustainable agricultural practices. To find out more about your business' sustainability commitment, please contact us.

8. For educators, ensure your class is learning about the impacts of the drought and how they can take small steps in their own lives to create a more sustainable environment.

This article is a great start! There are so many other resources available online to support you in your teaching. For classroom ideas, please contact us.


One of the key aspects of the Global Goals is that they are focused on sustainability. This means that we need to ensure we are forward-planning. This is not the first major drought in Australia, and it will not be the last. It is important that we use the opportunity to learn from the struggles we have faced. We need to have a definitive plan for water security in Australia which will carry us forward for the next twenty to thirty years. We also need to ensure we are taking actions in our lives to ensure the sustainability of our planet's natural environment.

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