Abstract: Visions and Pathways 2040 is a research and engagement project that seeks to envision possible future forms of Australian cities and lifestyles in 2040 if they have achieved an 80% reduction in their greenhouse gas emissions (on 2013 levels) and have addressed broader resilience issues, and, secondly, to ‘backcast’ from visions possible pathways to the present that may, in turn, suggest policies, strategies and governance structures for reaching them. This paper describes the approaches that were used in the initial phases of the project and early research results.
The papers presented at the 2015 State of Australian Cities National Conference (SOAC 7) were organised into seven broad themes but all shared, to varying degrees, a common focus on the ways in which high quality academic research can be used in the development and implementation of policy. The relationship between empirical evidence and theoretical developments that are presented as part of our scholarly endeavours and policy processes is rarely clear and straightforward.
Recent scholarship has conceptualised initiatives at the grassroots level as niche sites of innovation for sustainable development, comprising a diversity of innovations and sustainable practices that may (or may not) be usefully transferred to mainstream systems (Seyfang & Smith 2007). Sustainable housing communities such as cohousing and eco-villages, based around goals of improved sustainability and community vibrancy, provide examples of such niche, grassroots sites.
Creating sustainable cities requires rethinking the built environment, a fundamental component of mitigating the environmental impacts of buildings. To evaluate this, stakeholders in Australia increasingly rely on third party verification via green building rating schemes. These rating schemes address and encourage a variety of green features which are incorporated into the design and construction of a building. They also set benchmarks and provide methodologies to enable the assessment of whether a green feature or reduction in negative environmental impact has been achieved.
The highly populated coastal cities and towns in Australia are also most vulnerable places to climate change induced by increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emission through anthropogenic activities. It is estimated that urban areas account for 60-80% of the global energy use and emit more than 70% of global greenhouse gases. Since most future population growth is expected to be in urban areas, one main question regarding urban planning is how new urban communities should be developed in order to minimise resource consumption and carbon emissions.
The papers presented at the 2015 State of Australian Cities National Conference (SOAC 7) were organised into seven broad themes but all shared, to varying degrees, a common focus on the ways in which high quality academic research can be used in the development and implementation of policy. The relationship between empirical evidence and theoretical developments that are presented as part of our scholarly endeavours and policy processes is rarely clear and straightforward. Sometimes, perhaps because of the fortuitous alignment of various factors, our research has a direct and positive impact on policy. Sometimes it takes longer to be noticed and have influence and, sometimes, there is no little or no evidence of impact beyond or even with the academy. And while there are things we can do to promote the existence of our work and to present it in more accessible formats to people we believe to be influential, ultimately the appreciation and application of our work lies in the hands of others.
This paper is one of 164 papers that have each been reviewed and refereed by our peers and revised accordingly. While they each will have been presented briefly at the SOAC conference, they can now be read or re-read at your leisure. We hope they will stimulate further debate and discussion and form a platform for further research. Adapted from the SOAC 7 conference proceedings introduction by Paul Burton and Heather Shearer
The State of Australian Cities (SOAC) national conferences have been held biennially since 2003 to support interdisciplinary policy-related urban research.
SOAC 7 was held in the City of Gold Coast from 9-11 December 2015. The conference featured leading national and local politicians and policy makers who shared their views on some of the current challenges facing cities and how these might be overcome in the future.
Trees are known for their positive impacts in cities including: the provision of shade, reducing heat island effects, improving amenity, reducing social vulnerability, processing carbon and improving health outcomes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, greening policies at the local and state level have proliferated. Despite these initiatives, tree cover remains stubbornly uneven.
This paper explores the redevelopment potential of ageing and underutilised public housing properties in the middle suburbs of major Australian cities. State governments lack strategies for the renewal of this housing in the current fiscally constrained environment. Responding to this need, this paper presents a design research project that proposes a coordinated, precinct-based regeneration strategy that involves the redevelopment of clusters of public housing lots that are in close proximity to each other.
Cities can be seen as complex urban systems that mobilise local and global resource flows to meet the needs of their inhabitants and their manufacturing sector. However, the local consumption of resources can be responsible for major local and global environmental changes that impact the human health and wellbeing inside and outside of the boundary of the urban system. With global urban population expected to continue to grow, the mitigation of further future environmental pressures from urban consumption is of critical importance.
This paper proposes a methodology and a conceptual framework for evaluating green infrastructure performance. This proposed framework combines three key themes: ecosystem services, human health and wellbeing and ecosystem health.