18 Jul 2017
Roadmap for Sustainable and Liveable Urban Communities  

Opening in Melbourne last week at the Convention Centre the Ecocity World Summit, one of the most globally significant forums for addressing the complex challenges facing humanity in a rapidly urbanising world, put the creation of ecocities on the agenda as a high priority for humans to continue living in a sustainable world.

Bringing together academics, professionals and civic experts the summit featured key voices driving the discussion on climate change and resilient cities, including Former US Vice President and Chair of The Climate Reality Project Al Gore, Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change the Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio and Director of Energy at Tesla, Mark Twidell.

The UN Global Compact – Cities Programme, the Victorian state government, Compass Housing and RMIT University co-hosted The new urban agenda: Towards a roadmap for achieving sustainable and liveable communities session under the Urban Leadership stream on the opening day.

The event was chaired by UN Global Compact – Cities Programme Director, Professor Ralph Horne. Mia Davison from the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) was event Co Chair.

The session provided an opportunity to refine and further develop the Australasian NUA roadmap that began at the New Urban Agenda (NUA) conference, held in Melbourne in May 2017. Professor Dave Adamson from Compass Housing provided on overview of this event and its outcomes.

Opening the session, Professor Ralph Horne said that ecocities must be ethical cities, inclusive and well governed, and that what it means to have a ‘fair go’ needs to be redefined.

“We are becoming more divided as a society and we need to address that with urgency,” he said.

“A critical part of implementing the NUA and partnerships is that we need a bold vision. We need to test experiments and perform action that we haven’t tried before.”

“We really do need to experiment with not-for-profits, business, governments and civil society interests and we need to bring them together in new forms of partnerships and renew the vigour around the partnerships we have.”

Joyati Das, Head of Urban Programming at World Vision International and a Global Advisor to the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme, brought the centrality of children and youth to the discussion, emphasising that no one must be left behind.

“If we don’t get the most vulnerable to have capacity to contribute to cities and to nation building …we are actually losing the capacity of a young generation to contribute to better nations, cities and smart communities.”

The interactive session drew on the expertise of Summit participants and focused on addressing inequality as the key driver for sustainable cities and communities. Groups worked on key thematic ‘wicked’ problems:

  • Delivering Housing affordability;
  • Reconfiguring urban infrastructure to provide access for all;
  • Collocating decent jobs and decent housing;
  • Achieving social inclusion/mixed communities;
  • Delivering low carbon energy justice (access to fossil free energy for all).

This session provided rich dialogue and valuable data for the Australasian NUA Roadmap development. The Roadmap will be presented by the coalition at World Urban Forum 9 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in February 2o18.

UN Global Compact – Cities Programme Chair, Michael Nolan preceded this activity with a presentation on the need and system for city government to partner with the private sector, outlining the core elements required to develop viable, investable, high impact sustainable urban development projects.

He focused on partnership formation, how to develop the initial skills and understanding and enabling environment for multi partner projects that will build sustainable, resilient cities.

“For all nations, the challenge posed by the SDGs and NUA is to achieve effective implementation over the next 20 years,” he said.

“Governments globally will not be able to do this without the collaboration of a wide range of financial, private sector, public sector, academic and not-for-profit agencies working with local communities – it requires a ‘whole nation’ approach.

The challenge is to get projects that reflect the NUA formulated in such a way that the governance is right, says Nolan and that the right partnerships are formed but also enabled within the local or state government context.

“The private sector needs to be in the room at the right time in order to achieve this,” Nolan said.

“The ability to bring them into the room for powerful projects that have impact and to establish trust is not easy.”

“We need a model process to build that trust and to attract funding.”

“We’re lucky, through UN Global Compact – Cities Programme city projects, different models of collaboration have been trialled – and have delivered sustained impact – over many years,” Nolan said

He also spoke about the Multi-Partner Implementation Facility for Sustainable Urban Development (IFSUD) which provides a global mechanism for local governments, civil society, the private sector and other urban planning stakeholders to better connect, collaborate and invest in sustainable urban solutions at a local city level.

“Our ‘City Partnerships’ offer and system, part of IFSUD, builds high impact projects that are informed, have strong, transparent and inclusive governance, are facilitated locally and independently and attract and secure international, national and local funding”.

“This mechanism scales up that model of collaboration between the sectors to enable the ability of those projects to form so they won’t fall over later.”

“The Private sector has to be engaged and in a way that connects to sustainable development projects to core business.”

Profit is not a ‘dirty word,’ says Nolan, …” for a program delivering impact under the NUA to also generate profit, it’s going to sustain itself and not go away”.

“And if that’s a partnership between the private sector, government and civil society, providing broad benefits for all, then I’m all for it,” Nolan said.

“Making global goals global business is an absolute.”

Watch the full video here.