Partners & Events

Civic Ledger and Cynefin Centre Partner to Engage Communities on Water Issues

Watch the Making Choices About Water replay online

Civic Ledger
Civic Ledger
Published in
7 min readFeb 6, 2022


Civic Ledger and Cynefin Centre Australia have partnered in a new initiative showcasing the December 2021 event Making Choices About Water which highlighted some of the leading perspectives of engaging with water in Australia. The purpose of the event was to highlight sustainable and inclusive approaches to water management that are responsive to the values of traditional owners whilst maximising the flow-on benefits of water use for economic development including industry and agriculture.

The event was hosted and sponsored by Civic Ledger, the company behind Water Ledger, a blockchain technology platform for transparent and secure management of water resources. Water Ledger is currently in the process of being rolled out in Northern Queensland, in partnership with the CRCNA, Inclusive Growth Partners and FNQ Growers, to more than 1000 growers of the Mareeba-Dimbulah irrigation area.

“It’s important to us that we create win-win solutions for all people involved in water management and allocation. Water is a precious and finite resource, and it’s important that we find ways to track the quantity and quality of water consumption, so that we can do it in a way that ensures environmental allocations and cultural use because we have enough information to value water accurately and intelligently. Transparent and secure systems like blockchain-based water markets enable us to do this better.”

— Civic Ledger CEO and Co-Founder Katrina Donaghy, one of the speakers at the event.

Katrina Donaghy

In the Murray Darling system, Aboriginal organisations control just 0.17 per cent of the total water, and First Nations groundwater control is a mere 0.027, in stark contrast to Indigenous peoples representing 10% of the local population.

“That is aqua nullius,” says Dr Erin O’Donnell, a water law and policy expert from Melbourne University and a speaker at the event. “Many of you will have heard of terra nullius, which was when European people arrived and assumed the land was empty, or at least tried to tell themselves that so that they could convince themselves that it was lawful to steal the land from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. We did the same thing with water, and we’re doing it again.”

Dr Erin O’Donnell

Ensuring water justice for traditional owners and the environment, and meaningfully engaging communities hands-on so that water management can meet everyone’s needs is a key motivation for Professor Anne Poelina in her role at the Water Justice Hub, Australian National University. “We need a focus on Indigenous water valuation and resilience in decision making” says Professor Anne Poelina.

The Cynefin Centre Australia (CCA) also contributes to the call for water justice. “Water and water rights are complex issues, fast becoming more visible and more pressing. We can contribute by using place-based, socio-economic approaches to produce more equitable and palatable long terms outcomes for all stakeholders. It starts with seeking and sharing multiple perspectives and respecting different views,” says Viv Read, Director of Cynefin Centre Australia.

Dr Erin O’Donnell led the early discussion, suggesting that “the way we have managed water at the national and regulatory level has not necessarily engaged communities and Australians may, in fact, be largely disengaged in the understanding of where our water comes from, how our water gets to us, what happens when it goes away what happens when we are done with it.”

The three experts on the Making Choices About Water Panel, Professor Anne Polina, Dr Erin O’Donnell, and Katrina Donaghy, come from three corners of Australia — Broome, Melbourne and Brisbane. Each of the panellists endeavours to answer the question “How, as leaders in our fields, can we foster a culture between us that creates better choices for water in 2022?”

Making Choices About Water is an invitation to attend an engaging discussion with water leaders in Australia with diverse perspectives. Speakers share their perspectives about the values of water, its place in culture, the future of water management, and how we can collaborate to take better care of water, respecting that how water has been managed in Australia’s recent history has left scars on our both country and community.

Dr Anne Poelina shares her insight on how Indigenous Australians know that rivers are sentient, they are alive with agency, that they have their own story, and they hold memory within their own energy system.

“Indigenous people do not separate land, water and people. They are intrinsically entwined because we need to see the world in which we live from a holistic perspective where all of those things come into the frame. The most important thing in all of this is the truth telling. And the reconciliation that we must have as a nation to be brave. And to understand that Indigenous people are the guardians from the beginning of time.”

— Professor Anne Poelina

Professor Anne Poelina

Professor Anne Poelina believes that Indigenous Australians are not anti-development, rather they are the original scientists working with knowledge from past, in the present and for the future. They use the principles of First Law and lived experience of place-based complexity to build knowledge of how living systems operate, for example, where the water travels underground, or where it comes up.

Dr Erin O’Donnell proposes that granting personhood to rivers can change the relationship people have to water. Giving legal rights to rivers must be done in a way which does not lead to unforeseen consequences. She described instances of different approaches overseas and in Melbourne, Australia.

Katrina Donaghy presents technology implemented in consultation with the community, particularly blockchain, as an enabler for allowing all stakeholders to not just manage water but also do this in a way which is consistent with community governance principles, to develop relationships where we can agree on what we value as humans about water and what water supports in our lives and how we come together as a community to achieve this.

More events are planned for 2022, on key issues around resource management and community engagement, such as the housing crisis, climate, and the Barrier Reef.

For a replay of the event, and an in-depth analysis of the key issues and perspectives, visit the event website.


Multi-award-winning technology company Civic Ledger is building trust layer solutions for the markets of tomorrow.

Civic Ledger provides blockchain solutions to enable a sustainable revival of growth. With Civic Ledger technology, water, carbon, nutrients, and biodiversity will be able to be securely and transparently accounted for — how much we have, how much we share, and how much we use.

We work closely with environmental market operators, regulators, utilities, traditional owners, industry and the agricultural sector to ensure solutions that are comprehensive, responsible, intuitive, and future proof.

Our team is distributed across Asia, Europe, and Australasia, and will soon be growing into the US. In 2021, we were the only Australian company accepted into the World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers cohort.


Water Ledger is the world’s first blockchain-based platform for the management and trading of water. The result is a more open, transparent, and publicly verifiable system to support improved water management and enhance the water trading experience with water rights that are clearly defined, enforceable, and transferable.

As a peer-to-peer trust layer solution, Water Ledger eliminates the need for third parties to intermediate between buyers and sellers, drastically reducing the complexity of water trading. Water Ledger’s enables secure ecosystem growth as more water related activities — from water utilities to water recycling — transition to blockchain-based solutions.


Cynefin Centre Australia is the Australian based partner of the The Cynefin Centre. The pioneering work in complexity of Dave Snowden underpins the work of the Cynefin Centre, and informs their research program.

CCA primarily focuses on working within the not-for-profit, government and academic sectors, with action research and development projects that apply complexity science principles, methods, and approaches to social good. We focus on research becoming practice, learning from doing, making sense of complexity accessible and understandable. For this, co-creation, and collaboration with all involved in any project are fundamental principles.

There are Cynefin Centre flagship research programs into healthcare; education; climate change; power, discrimination, and conflict; citizen engagement and democratic innovation. In CC Australia, we are explicitly focussed on the integration and application of Indigenous knowledge to complex issues, building complexity literacy for grass roots community activation, and the development and implementation of consultation and engagement processes using complexity-based methods and processes that ensure equity in access and participation, sovereignty of data and decision making, and transparency of evaluation and results.