25 May 2016
Public-private partnerships to address extreme heat

Extreme heat events are a critical issue for urban sustainability and resilience. Negative impacts include health issues, anti-social behaviour, loss of revenue for local business and disruption to infrastructure and essential services.

In a Melbourne CBD pilot, RMIT University and the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme recently brought together the private sector with city government to explore issues related to extreme heat and look at tangible proactive solutions. RMIT University, as well as being one of the two major education providers in the CBD, is also one of the largest real estate holders in Melbourne. Major retail centres, such as Emporium, QV and Bourke Street Mall discussed opportunities with the City of Melbourne for both businesses and councils to reduce the impact of heatwaves, improve urban forestry and enhance economic growth.

Led by Global Compact – Cities Programme Chair Michael Nolan, the recent Solutions/Value Workshop enabled these groups to discuss extreme heat resilience options such as prospective underground spaces, cool walking tours, green infrastructure designs and pop-up urban oases with the latter two gaining the most interest among participants.

Michael says “This collaboration is playing a critical role in piloting projects and programs that will increase heat resilience, harness private sector involvement and investment.”

Green infrastructure design concepts use vegetation, soils and natural processes to improve stormwater management, climate change adaptation, reduce heat stress, improve pedestrian safety, increase aesthetics and improve biodiversity in the city. As an innovative and original concept, pop-up urban oases will attract new visitors to the city, creating social nodes of activity and a place where people can get solace from the heat.

In terms of executing such opportunities, the March meeting brought forward a range of unique yet achievable ideas. 2016 could see a green design competition take place, which would engage RMIT students through a mentorship-based collaboration with the City of Melbourne and retail centres across the CBD.

The collaborative resilience project draws on the combined values of the UN Global Compact – advancing the Ten Principles and the Sustainable Development Agenda through partnership – and the Cities Programme’s Melbourne Model, which brings together the private sector with government and civil society to address critical urban issues.

Article by Mim Kempson