31 Jul 2014
Global Compact Strengthens Urban Sustainability Efforts through Agreement with RMIT University

Recognizing the importance of cities and their potential to create sustainable societies, the UN Global Compact announced plans to strengthen the reach and work of its Global Compact Cities Programme through a renewed commitment by RMIT University and an increased investment in the programme over the next five years.

Established in 2003, the Cities Programme is the urban component of the Global Compact dedicated to the promotion and adoption of the initiative’s ten principles by cities.

The new agreement with RMIT – host of the Cities Programme secretariat in Melbourne, Australia – includes additional financial and human resources by the university, aimed at scaling up efforts to tackle urban challenges around the world.

City participation in the Global Compact has grown to include 86 signatories, ranging from large capital cities to provincial municipalities around the world.

By adding a range of urban specialists to the Cities Programme staff and facilitating greater collaboration with Global Compact Local Networks, the programme will provide city participants with stronger local relationships, as well as global connectedness and better recognition.

“The Global Compact believes that cities have the potential to make enormous strides in creating sustainable societies, and is grateful that RMIT University has committed to drive our Cities Programme forward,” said Global Compact Executive Director Georg Kell.

“We have seen how cities and states can overcome complex challenges by taking an approach that considers a broad range of sustainability principles covering human rights, labour standards, environment and anti-corruption, and then working with business and civil society to find lasting solutions.”

“We are delighted to confirm our strengthened commitment to hosting the international secretariat of the Cities Programme, “ said Professor Callum Drummond, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation and Vice-President of RMIT University.

“Building partnerships between city governments, civil society and the business community is very important to RMIT, as a global university and as a corporate citizen. We are committed to enabling positive, timely impact for society and for the environment.”

To lead the next phase of growth for the programme, Professor Ralph Horne has been appointed Director of the Global Compact Cities Programme. Professor Horne’s appointment follows current Director Professor Paul James’ departure from RMIT earlier in the year. A six-month transition process is underway in order to best support Cities Programme activities and partnerships.

“We are grateful for the dedication of Professor Paul James in his seven years as Director, and are proud of his legacy, building the Cities Programme from its pilot phase into a global initiative,” said Mr. Kell.

“We welcome Professor Horne’s new Directorship, and are confident that his expertise and leadership can move the Cities Programme into its next phase of impact and growth.”

Professor Horne’s expertise is in urban social and policy change for sustainable design and development. He has extensive experience of environmental techniques and sustainability appraisal and has a specific research interest in urban transitions, including socio-technical relations in the context of climate change and resource scarcity.

Ralph has led over 100 urban research projects, collaborating with researchers, cities, governments, and commercial organisations across all continents and including specifically studies of housing and development in Europe, Australasia, SE Asia and Latin America.

Professor Paul James, who has held the Directorship of the Cities Programme since 2007, has taken up a professorial position with the University of Western Sydney at the Institute for Culture and Society. Paul is a world leading  academic and author or editor of 26 books. His profound contribution to the field of globalisation is represented in a 16 volume anthology series (Sage Publications) , ‘Central Currents in Globalisation‘, a  ten year project, which will be launched next week.

The results of Paul’s more recent work on the issue of community resilience and urban sustainability is in publication with Routledge, ‘Urban sustainability in theory and practice: circles of sustainability‘. This theoretical framework, the Circles of Sustainability  (or ‘Circles of Social Life) – and its related tools – has made an invaluable contribution to the Global Compact Cities Programme and its approaches to tackling complex urban issues.