Development in the Tropics

    Development in the Tropics (DitT) is a team of multidisciplinary researchers within the Cairns Institute at JCU. We work with governments, industries and communities to create sustainable development in north Queensland and more broadly across Northern Australia, Timor, Indonesia and the Pacific. We view development as enabling “something better” for the society with whom we are working. A key focus of our work is improving the complex governance systems within which development occurs. Thematic areas in which we work include water security, workforce development, circular economies, sustainable Indigenous livelihoods, rural and remote livability, improving infrastructure and supply chains.

    A challenging Northern Australia landscape

    We are particularly focused on working in northern Australia. The sustainable development of northern Australia has become a national priority over the past decade. This requires balancing regional priorities for economic development with significant cultural and environmental values. The region’s geostrategic importance has also grown, and recently there have been calls to strengthen Australia’s sovereign capability in the north. Importantly, northern Australia is also increasingly referred to as the country’s gateway to the Indo-Pacific. The region will also need to cope with increased climate-related risks such as heat stress, more intense cyclones, and more extreme wet and dry climatic events.

    Balancing these at times competing priorities for development makes the northern Australia governance system extremely complex. Working through this complexity involves engagement at the local and regional scales with industries, First Nations and communities within the context of state, territory and national policy and legislation. In most instances both public- and private-sector investment across the north generally involves major land-use and tenure changes. The region is an Indigenous domain, with First Nation’s interests across the entire land- and seascape and specific First Nations’ rights extending over some 78% of the land. Development therefore needs to be undertaken ensuring the free, prior and informed consent of traditional owners.

    For further information, please contact Jennifer McHugh 

    Our People

    Professor Allan Dale

    Professor Hurriyet Babacan

    Dr Jim Turnour

    Shannon Burns

    Dr Brian Fairman

    Ellie Bock

    Dr Margaret Gooch

    Dave Ellis

    Jennifer McHugh

    Current PhD Students

    Ellie Bock

    Sam Guy

    Past PhD Students

    Lokes Brooksbank

    Dwi Amalia Sari

    Rebecca Pearse


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