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Jana Phan

Creation date: 01 March 2022

Introducing Jana Phan


Jana Phan is the director of stewardship and sustainability policy, with a PhD in genetics and a passion for evidence-informed policy and science diplomacy – so it is no surprise that her shortlisted application for a LEAD scholarship explored the power of policy in great depth.


Jana had three essay topics to choose from. She chose to look at the meaning, practices and behaviours that need to change for us to be truly sustainable and feed the growing world.


Here’s a little of what she had to say:


Policy, good policy, policy that is informed by evidence, is a cornerstone that supports the nation’s agricultural productivity, sustainability of the ag sector and ensures food security in an ever changing and challenging environment.


Australian agriculture has undergone considerable change over the last few decades. The adoption of new and high-tech solutions has made our farming practices some of the most advanced and our farmers some of the most innovative. We’ve had to be – Australian agriculture is exposed to numerous challenges: drought, heatwaves, fires, floods and invasive species. And in the face of climate change, the negative impacts of these challenges will be exacerbated. These challenges threaten food security, they threaten livelihoods, communities and individuals and they must be addressed.


It’s sometimes conveyed that there is a trade-off between agriculture and climate change, as if there is only room for one to prosper.


This is not the case.


Although agriculture negatively contributes to climate change and is also negatively affected by it, agriculture is also uniquely placed to be part of the solution. This means thinking about what we farm and how we farm and use our resources to ensure that sustainable agricultural practices are achieved. In the Australian agriculture setting, sustainability means working in a responsible manner to protect people and the environment in the present and for the future. Sustainable farming practices are imperative because our resources are finite and we have to learn how to live, even thrive, with what we have.


Tools can help us effectively manage pests and weeds and improve on existing agricultural methods. The development and adoption of new tools can support the production of more food, particularly that which is of a higher quality, and do so by using less resources. As such, they help protect our environment and ensure its long-term viability and consequently, the viability of the agriculture industry. In our efforts to achieve sustainable agriculture, it would be irresponsible to not consider all the tools available to us.


My tool of choice is policy and it must be evidence informed.


Good policy development must consider the agriculture system as a whole  –policy can be used to educate and prepare our next generation of farmers, scientists and engineers and develop career pathways for them, it can be used to support R&D efforts, the commercialisation of new products and once new products have reached the market, policy can be used to support industry-led stewardship.


Important to innovation and good policy development, the principles of diversity and inclusion must be upheld. This means injecting the voices of everyone into conversations where strategic decision are made.


An appropriate policy environment can nurture the next generation of leaders, it can encourage and cultivate new ideas, bring these ideas into fruition and achieve sustainability in Australian agriculture.


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