21 Sep 2015
Ethical Cities: Locking in Liveability

What does it mean to live in an ethical city? This is the question that will be addressed by Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision and others at the Urban Thinkers Campus that will take place in Melbourne, Australia on 16 February 2016.

In the run up to Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development and as part of UN Habitat’s World Urban Campaign, a series of Urban Thinkers campuses are being organised across the globe. The aim is to create an open space for critical exchange between all stakeholders who believe that urbanisation is an opportunity that can lead to positive urban transformations.

The Melbourne Urban Thinkers Campus, ‘Ethical Cities’, is a collaboration between the UN Global Compact Cities Programme, World Vision Australia and RMIT University that will include leading initiatives from Global Compact cities.

The Ethical Cities Focus

The campus will explore the interconnections between liveability and its ethical underpinnings. Is there something radically different from an ethical point of view about the cities that are most liveable? How are people in the most liveable cities responding to the big challenges of today such as poverty, unemployment, inequality, lack of affordable housing, homelessness, the well-being of children, migration, refugees, traffic congestion and crime? The list goes on.

It is important to reflect on the fact that the 21st century is, above all, the urban century. It is also a time in which humanity will learn to live with rapid urban population growth, human-induced climate change and other forms of pollution, while managing dwindling resources, growing inequality and negative public health impacts from pollution.

Growth and diversity are assets in tackling such urban challenges, but how can we access these benefits, and how can we build stronger, more ethical and equitable communities? Different cities will need to find and share their own solutions, but it is important to consider how to operationalise these solutions in the developed and developing world contexts.

Those cities that succeed in attracting talent and providing liveable futures for their inhabitants will be the ones that harness ethical, cultural and social capital in their policies and practices. The objective of the Melbourne Urban Thinkers Campus is to explore these ethical dimensions of cities and the implications for sound policymaking and more effective implementation.

The ethical imperative in future directions for cities

Cities that fail to build ethical futures and citizen engagement will become less attractive as the home for the talent our cities badly need in a post-industrial, knowledge-driven global economy.

Recognising that this globalised economy brings both blessings and curses, many civic leaders are already addressing the key questions of today. They are asking:

  • How do we understand the just and inclusive city?
  • How can we increase social inclusion?
  • How can we maximise benefit from growth and migration to our cities while also decarbonising our economy?
  • How can we safeguard and promote urban culture and heritage and ensure our cities remain distinctive, unique and attractive?
  • How we can ensure equality in access to essential services?
  • How can we bring about just governance, rather than the favoured provision into wealthy, powerful communities?

As part of the preparations for Habitat III, ‘Ethical Cities’ will examine issues identified under the theme of social cohesion and equity, and will contribute to the ongoing policy dialogue around a new Socio-Cultural Urban Framework. This is a working, hands-on event about “The City we Need.”

Melbourne Urban Thinkers Campus – Ethical Cities

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Plenary Session

9:30am – 12:30pm, Swanston Academic Building, RMIT University, Melbourne

Breakout Sessions

2:00pm – 4:00pm, Swanston Academic Building, RMIT University, Melbourne

Registrations and Further Information

A program and registrations will be available in October 2015. Contact Brendan Barrett for further information – brendan.barret@citiesprogramme.org