Report

Visions 2040: Glimpses of the future and critical uncertainties

Results from the first year of Visions and Pathways 2040
18 Mar 2015
Description

The Visions & Pathways 2040 team are delighted to announce that their first report – the results of the project’s first year – is now available online and in hard-cover.  The report, with results from the first year of the Visions and Pathways 2040 project, is titled 'Glimpses of the future and critical uncertainties'. It’s available online and in print, click here to download a copy. 
Visions and Pathways 2040 (VP2040) is a research and engagement program which seeks to explore and articulate visions and innovation pathways for thriving Australian cities that are low-carbon and resilient, adaptable in the context of change and robust under the physical and social challenges predicted with a changing climate. The program involves three universities (University of Melbourne, University of NSW and Swinburne) and nine government and industry partners. VP2040 has been funded as a four-year project by the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living (CRC LCL) which is a seven-year, fifty-partner research institution with a broad and challenging charter to significantly reduce the contribution of the built environment to Australia’s greenhouse gas production. As with other CRC LCL projects, VP2040 is about understanding the trajectory of urban development and intervening to change it, focusing on city-scale change. The project seeks to envision some of the forms Australian cities and lifestyles might take in 2040 if they have achieved an 80% reduction in their greenhouse gas contribution and have addressed vulnerabilities that arise with changing climate and extreme weather events. These projections will be used to consider the policy, investment and further research that could bring them about. VP2040 is not about predicting what will happen but rather creating visions of what could happen if we as a society work together to achieve change. For this reason, VP2040 is a coordinated research and engagement project aiming to produce visions and scenarios that describe plausible futures. VP2040 involves transdisciplinary, solutions-orientated research. The project uses a co-creation process intended to build commitment to the exploration of transformed cities that deviate from development-as-usual expectations. The communication of future visions is seen as an important part of stimulating an interest in innovation (technical and social) that could contribute to change. VP2040 brings research into a process of extensive engagement and open collaboration to address the multidisciplinary dimensions of cities and urban life and to build consensus about what kind of future cities we really want. transport systems and drainage (storm water). Transitioning to a low-carbon future (reducing energy consumption, switching to renewable energy and sequestering existing atmospheric CO2 ) while reducing vulnerabilities to new weather patterns is a challenging task which will require continuous technological and social innovation. In our urbanised world, cities play a critical role in the innovation system. Although occupying less than 2% of the world’s landmass, cities have become the engines of the economy, at least in the industrial ‘north’. In Australia, as in other nations, cities account for a disproportionate amount of GDP. For example, Melbourne and Sydney each generate around 75% of their state’s economic output (SGS Economics and Planning 2014). Cities’ contribution to innovation is increasingly understood to be a function of their liveability and the density and diversity of the social interactions that result from their built form and culture. The transformation of a city has to simultaneously improve its inhabitants’ quality of life, amplify the conditions for social creativity and innovation, and enhance ecosystem services. The challenges facing us today require nothing less than a reconceptualisation of the city in all its dimensions. VP2040 aims to contribute to that reconceptualisation and to provide government, business and civil society with an understanding of possible pathways for policy, research, innovation, investment, technology, social organisation, professional and cultural practices and education. Much of our work will, of necessity, be directed to the transformation of the existing fabric – the retrofitting – of the city. VP2040 also aims to identify productive areas for experimentation – labelled ‘living laboratories’ by the CRC LCL and the international research community – recognising that complex social interactions are best understood by testing new system arrangements in practice.
Cities as a nexus of change
It is not surprising that this flagship project of the CRC LCL has a focus on cities. The city brings together the major strands of the CRC research agenda: buildings, precincts and communities. Cities involve complex and dynamic interactions between built and urban form, technology, social and cultural behaviour, and systems of provision (principally shelter, energy, water, food, transport, waste and information). These interactions can create vulnerabilities when environmental, climatic, economic or resource conditions deviate significantly from historical patterns. Australian cities have complex embedded dependencies on very large flows of resources including oil and other fossil fuels. The cities’ forms and metabolisms have been shaped by historical patterns of weather: prevailing summer and winter temperatures, rainfall, wind and storms. Most Australian cities lie close to the coast and are therefore vulnerable to sea-level rise and storm surges, particularly for buildings, roads and other transport systems and drainage (storm water). Transitioning to a low-carbon future (reducing energy consumption, switching to renewable energy and sequestering existing atmospheric CO2 ) while reducing vulnerabilities to new weather patterns is a challenging task which will require continuous technological and social innovation. In our urbanised world, cities play a critical role in the innovation system. Although occupying less than 2% of the world’s landmass, cities have become the engines of the economy, at least in the industrial ‘north’. In Australia, as in other nations, cities account for a disproportionate amount of GDP. For example, Melbourne and Sydney each generate around 75% of their state’s economic output (SGS Economics and Planning 2014). Cities’ contribution to innovation is increasingly understood to be a function of their liveability and the density and diversity of the social interactions that result from their built form and culture. The transformation of a city has to simultaneously improve its inhabitants’ quality of life, amplify the conditions for social creativity and innovation, and enhance ecosystem services. The challenges facing us today require nothing less than a reconceptualisation of the city in all its dimensions. VP2040 aims to contribute to that reconceptualisation and to provide government, business and civil society with an understanding of possible pathways for policy, research, innovation, investment, technology, social organisation, professional and cultural practices and education. Much of our work will, of necessity, be directed to the transformation of the existing fabric – the retrofitting – of the city. VP2040 also aims to identify productive areas for experimentation – labelled ‘living laboratories’ by the CRC LCL and the international research community – recognising that complex social interactions are best understood by testing new system arrangements in practice.

Identifiers: 
ISBN: 
978-0-7340-5108-0
Publication Place: 
Melbourne, Australia
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