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Confront long-term challenges

Victoria has faced depressions, wars, pandemics, technological disruptions, and natural disasters throughout its history. We have successfully navigated these to build a peaceful, prosperous and inclusive society. Successive crises like the 2019–20 summer bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic show how predictions can rapidly and unexpectedly change.

Unforeseen events and slower known shifts, such as climate change, can alter long-term trajectories. Victoria must be equipped to respond and adapt to future shocks to pave the way for positive transitions. Allowing innovation to thrive, embedding resilience, adapting swiftly to change, and better managing risk will help Victorians to flourish.

Long-term planning will help Victoria to better prepare for the future, build resilience, and achieve multiple long-term goals. It will prepare Victoria to confront challenges such as responding to climate change and achieving self-determination and Closing the Gap outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians.

Victoria is well-placed to adapt to and seize opportunities. Recovering from major shocks takes time but can prompt new thinking and fresh approaches to policy challenges.

Long-term planning will help Victoria to better prepare for the future, build resilience, and achieve multiple long-term goals, such as responding to climate change and achieving self-determination and Closing the Gap outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians.

Infrastructure planners face uncertainty from the future effects of technology, population, climate, social preferences, economic conditions, global factors, and emergencies, including future pandemics. These uncertainties can cause significant disruptions to communities and the economy, change the effectiveness or productivity of infrastructure, change how people use it, or remove the need for any infrastructure at all.

Yet positive opportunities and innovations arise from disruption and uncertainty. Climate change presents one of the greatest long-term challenges for Victoria. By better understanding climate risks and its causes, Victoria can build on climate change reduction pledges1 to further mitigate emissions, adapt infrastructure to operate in the future climate, and generate new industries and employment. Disasters and emergencies create significant shocks and devastating effects for communities, highlighting the need for resilient infrastructure. The rapid pace and breadth of technological change will continue to reshape how Victorians interact with each other and the wider world, while supporting innovative new approaches. Global developments can affect trading, as seen in recycling markets. This has provided Victoria with the opportunity to overhaul recycling and resource recovery infrastructure for a more sustainable, circular economy.

Infrastructure planners and policymakers can better understand the challenges and opportunities from uncertainty by considering multiple potential future scenarios. Rather than assuming a single future path, scenarios can examine different alternatives and the impacts on infrastructure that may last for decades. For this strategy, we have modelled and considered multiple future scenarios, such as different rates of population growth, changes in technology and alternative policy settings. Scenario planning and analysis explores the different benefits of infrastructure choices in an uncertain future and the value of keeping options available for when things change. Building ‘real options’2 into plans and projects, and updating assumptions against evidence over time, means governments can make good infrastructure decisions now, with more confidence that projects will still perform in unexpected circumstances.

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