16 Jul 2013
Inaugural People and the Planet conference – a resounding success

Early career researchers willing to ‘transform the future’

In partnership with RMIT University, the Global Compact Cities Programme recently hosted a very successful international conference in Melbourne, Australia titled “People and the Planet: Transforming the Future”. It was the conference’s first year and due to the positive response it looks set to be an annual event, with discussions already underway to hold next year’s conference in Latin America.

The conference sought to address this particular  period in human history “when life on this planet is in danger of becoming unsustainable for many of its species—including us”.

The conference was multi-sector and multi disciplinary, bringing together the very different constituencies of academia, civil society, urban governance and business. It asked researchers looking at sustainability in its broadest sense, across the integrated domains of economics, ecology, politics and culture.

The conference asked questions like …..
What does it mean to be responsible for the future of our planet?
How can we best work collaboratively across those different constituencies to address basic issues of sustainability?

And most importantly …..‘What is to be done?’

Whilst the conference featured inspiring (and at times sobering) key notes addresses from world-leading thinkers, such as Robin Eckersley, Jerry Harris, Anita Weiss and Robert Manne, Deborah Bird Rose, one of the standouts of the conference was the overwhelming presence and contribution of early career researchers. This was unexpected outcome, and it gave the conference great depth and energy.

This was noted by a number of the more seasoned academics in attendance. In the words of one ..

The conference was heartening, it showed that there is some very cutting edge research taking place across the world … younger academics and practitioners are out there bravely  tackling the tougher world issues, they are clearly committed to making a difference. It’s a fresh and exciting perspective.

The conference had a big picture theme and perspective. Many tough global issues were tackled, such as climate change, disaster management, poverty, housing, environment and energy, urbanisation, and global insecurity. Despite the entrenched tough nature of the subject matter, there were moments of optimism and the majority of the research was solutions focused and grounded in practice.

World leading thinkers

The People and Planet key note addresses are available on Podcast – click here

Fresh Perspectives

A number of Cities Programme Research Associates presented on their research. These include Sandra Moye (pictured left); Mushfiq Wahed and Raisa Ashrafi with their Bangladashi research on citizens ability to pay for resource use, and Felicity Cahill’s research on the resettlement of the Vila Chocolatao resettlement in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Julia Laidlaw was in South Africa presenting at the ISDLA conference on her Food Security research.