Symposium to connect partners across the globe for solutions to build sustainable, safe and resilient cities

The Sustainable Development Goals, Climate Change and Cities Symposium brings together cities and their urban partners to become inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable as they #buildbackbetter.

The Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning and the Connected Cities Lab at the University of Melbourne, with partners the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia and Banksia Foundation presents the ‘Sustainable Development Goals, Climate Change and Cities Symposium’ from 30 September to 2 October.

The three day virtual Symposium includes keynote speeches from Indigenous leaders, city administrators from United States and Brazil.

Keynote speakers like Penny Abeywardena from the New York City Mayor’s Office for International Affairs will add to some of the world’s leading voices in urban sustainability and action on climate change, including case studies of responses to the COVID-19 pandemic – with speakers from New York City, to Rio de Janeiro, New Taipei, Pacific region and Melbourne.

The program will also feature participant cities from Australia, Malaysia, India, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and the Philippines, at the half way point of their SDGs Cities Challenge. Urban challenges programmed for discussion at the Symposium range from ‘engaging the community in climate resilience’ to ‘devising sustainable procurement policies’.

Director of Connected Cities Lab Professor Michele Acuto said that cities are looking for ways to leverage recovery from the front-line of COVID-19, and become even more sustainable and resilient.

“Academic institutions, like the University Melbourne, can contribute expertise in city planning and design, while also highlighting, international and iterative processes of co-design. This Symposium will act as a catalyst for change to move from crisis towards truly transformative change,” Professor Acuto said.

The Symposium is an important step toward ongoing collaboration for urban partners in academia, business and government, as they align themselves with a key urban ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ target, as outlined by the United Nations.

The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) outlines 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets to be met by 2030 which aim to wipe out poverty by placing the world on a more sustainable economic, social and environmental path.

The City of Newcastle, Australia, are looking at re-framing whole city planning, with a view to link to their local efforts to the global approach of sustainable urban development.

“The City of Newcastle has adopted the SDGs as a framework as part of a wider, regional SDGs process. Through the Challenge and this Symposium we have been able to progress our process and implementation, learning with other cities as they set targets and goals around sustainable urban development,” the City of Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

The Symposium is relevant to all urban professionals and students – in government, practice, academia, civil society and industry.

Co-curator of the Symposium and the SDGS Cities Challenge, Enterprise Senior Fellow in Informed Cities Dr Cathy Oke, is available for comment.