Future Cities National Forum speaker announcement

This event has already taken place. Video recordings of all the days sessions can be found here.

The Future Cities National Forum will be hosted by the CRCLCL’s University of Melbourne, Victorian Eco Innovation Lab (VEIL) Node from 8.45am – 5.00pm on Thursday 26th August 2017 at The University of Melbourne, Parkville Campus.

Below is further information about featured speakers.

Featured international speakers

Arjan van Timmeren


Professor Arjan van Timmeren (The Netherlands, 1969) is professor at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Department of Urbanism. He holds the chair in ‘Environmental Technology & Design’.

He is also Scientific Director of the joint initiative by TUD (Delft), MIT (Boston) and WUR (Wageningen) ‘AMS Institute’ (Institute for ‘Advanced Metropolitan Solutions’), in Amsterdam.

Over the years his work has focused on the integration of the concept of sustainable development in the field of architecture, urbanism and building technology in both practice and academia, with lately emphasis on Urban Metabolism, Circular Economy and Smart cities and citizens.


Cities have become the stage of modernity as the realities of resource scarcity, climate change, stiff global competition and technologically led austerity are forcing us to adapt to ever changing, economic, environmental and socio-political conditions.

This lecture critically addresses the question about the influence engineering, technology, design and innovation could have on the development of (smart) cities. The focus will be on finding, developing and realising new, better and more exciting solutions for our future cities – based on excellent academic research and the dynamic interaction of vision, public administration and implementation by innovative companies.

The three basic ingredients for smarter cities are: City + People + Technology, each with its own pace of change and development. The city itself, the built environment and infrastructure, changes very slowly and often with major investment costs. The heritage of cities however often provides the city’s charm and attractiveness. Information Technology develops very rapidly, thus causing major changes for society. People's behavioural patterns adapt and change faster than the physical environment but slower than Information Technology.

However, in all cases, people should be the leading perspective.

To resolve these competing ingredients, innovation cannot be imposed on cities but needs to be generated and tested within  ‘living labs’ -  inclusive design spaces,  test-beds where citizens, academia, government, civil society and entrepreneurs (a quadruple helix) can come together to co-create bespoke technological solutions and policy that can make the cities we love even better places to live.

The lecture will be based on examples of ongoing research projects (most of them realised within so called Living Labs) by TU Delft and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS Institute).  AMS Institute projects are exploring opportunities for cross-fertilisation between conventional urban engineering and design, using integrated approaches with ICT technologies and strategies that ensure feedback loops to citizens and urban professionals. The aim is to support behavioural change and sustainability. These projects integrate qualitative and quantitative data, collected through sensing and human-generated information.

AMS aims for fair and inclusive solutions for urban decarbonisation and resilience. By testing solutions in real life urban contexts, AMS addresses challenges facing urban environments around the world.

Jurjen van der Weg and Wybren Jorritsma


Jurjen van der Weg is the Project Leader of Future Neighbourhood and City Policy of the municipality of Leeuwarden, and Senior advisor to the Leeuwarden 2018 Cultural Capital program.

Wybren Jorritsma is representing the Province of Fryslân. He is currently working with the Municipality of Leeuwarden as a senior project manager in the Leeuwarden 2018 Cultural Capital program.


Cultural interventions as a driver for change.

Next year the European Capital of Culture is the city of Leeuwarden. The very great variety of cultural projects for that event are a laboratory for sustainable change. Art is not just the goal but the means to use creativity and co-creation to achieve international common goals (so-called 'glocalisation'). The bid for Leeuwarden 2018 was explicit about the serious economic and social challenges the city faced, which would be exacerbated by changes in the global market, environmental limits and climate change. The cultural shift wanted from 2018 cultural capital program was to create an enduring outward-looking, innovative, community that could 'demonstrate that culture can be at the heart of transformation, in the strengthening of the social fabric'.  2018 is intended to be a turning point in the city’s history and [to be] an example for EU cities facing comparable challenges. It will involve local, national and international artists, scientists, citizens and institutions alike. addressing ecological and economic sustainability.  Together with Melbourne University’s VEIL EcoAcupuncture program, designs for the future have been made. An interesting mix of daring to dream and daring to act. The best practices will be presented and linked to the philosophy of place-making in Leeuwarden and the province of Fryslân.

Kes McCormick


Associate professor Dr Kes McCormick is deputy head of the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE) at Lund University in Sweden and Visiting Fellow at the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab in the Melbourne School of Design. Kes has a background in political science and environmental science. His work for the IIIEE combines research, education and innovation. Broadly his work sits in the fields of sustainability and governance, focusing on how to accelerate the implementation of renewable energy technologies (including bioenergy and biofuels for transport); energy efficiency (buildings); urban transformation; living labs, and education for sustainability. Kes leads the University of Lund research in the EU Horizon 2020 project Naturvation.


Naturvation involves 14 institutions across Europe working in fields as diverse as urban development, innovation studies, geography, ecology, environmental assessment and economics. The partnership includes city governments, non-governmental organisations and business. Naturvation assess what nature-based solutions can achieve in cities, examines what innovation is taking place, and works with communities and stakeholders to develop the knowledge and tools required to realise the potential of nature-based solutions for meeting urban sustainability goals. Nature-based solutions use the natural properties of ecosystems. They have potential to limit impacts of climate change, enhance biodiversity and improve environmental quality while contributing to economic activities and social well-being. Examples are green roofs and city parks that limit heat stress, city lagoons that store water and permeable surfaces, vegetation and rain gardens to intercept storm water. Yet despite their significant potential, the use of nature-based solutions remains marginal, fragmented, and highly uneven within and between cities.

Featured local speakers

Billie Giles-Corti

Professor Billie Giles-Corti is a Distinguished Professor at RMIT University and Director of its Urban Futures Enabling Capability Platform. She is a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Principal Research Fellow and directs the Centre for Urban Research’s Healthy Liveable Cities Research Group.  Prior to joining RMIT in 2017, she was a Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor at the University of Melbourne and Director of the McCaughey VicHealth Community Wellbeing Unit.  For over two decades, she and a multi-disciplinary research team have been studying the impact of the built environment on health and wellbeing. Professor Giles-Corti currently leads an NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Healthy Liveable Communities established in 2014; which works closely with local, national and global policy-makers and practitioners.  She has published over 300 articles, book chapters and reports, and by citations, is ranked in the top 1% of researchers in her field globally.  She is an Honorary Fellow of both the Planning Institute of Australia and the Public Health Association, a Fulbright Scholar, and in 2016 was awarded an NHMRC Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship as the top ranked female fellow in public health in 2015.

Seona Candy

Dr Seona Candy is a senior research fellow with the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab working on food systems analysis, scenario modelling and resilient urban systems. She was joint chief investigator on the Foodprint Melbourne project and is Deputy Node Leader for the Future Cities Node of Excellence in Post-Carbon Resilient Cities. Seona is currently working as a research fellow on two projects funded by the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living. The Visions and Pathways 2040 project is collaborative, multi-stakeholder project aiming to develop visions, scenarios and pathways for transitioning to low-carbon in Australian cities. The Future Cities Distributed Infrastructure project aims to work collaboratively with a diverse group of local councils to identify opportunities across Melbourne where critical infrastructure services like energy, food, water and waste can be delivered in a way that is more distributed and integrated, and the impacts on carbon emissions and urban resilience.

She has previously worked as a research fellow with the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab on an ARC Linkage project using scenario modelling to link land and resource use with the availability of a nutritionally adequate diet and identify priority policy interventions to protect Australia's future food security in the face of environmental sustainability challenges. The research project was undertaken in collaboration with Deakin University and Australian National University, and uses the Australian Stocks and Flows Framework (ASFF), a model of the physical economy of Australia developed by the CSIRO. She has a background in engineering, renewable energy, participatory design and international development. She completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne, in conjunction with Engineers Without Borders Australia, investigating the use of appropriate technology to improve food security and nutrition in remote mountain regions of Nepal. She has also worked with CoDesign Studio, most recently on a project using participatory design to develop low-cost floating vegetable gardens to improve food availability and nutrition for impoverished communities living on Lake Ton Le Sap in Cambodia.

Guy Abrahams

Guy Abrahams is CEO and Co-Founder of CLIMARTE: Arts for a Safe Climate and instigator of ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2015, a festival of climate change engaged art and ideas. Guy holds Arts and Law degrees from Monash University, and a Masters of Environment from the University of Melbourne. He has been actively involved in the visual arts and environment fields for over thirty years. Guy was Director of Christine Abrahams Gallery, one of Australia’s leading contemporary art galleries, for twenty-two years. Guy has held many positions including as board member of the National Gallery of Victoria Art Foundation, the Banksia Environmental Foundation, the Melbourne Art Fair, and President of the Australian Commercial Galleries Association. He is currently Chair of the City of Melbourne Art & Heritage Collection Panel, and a valuer for the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program.

Recent publications include Climate science is looking to art to create change, The Conversation, 7 May 2015, co-authored with David Karoly, and What climate art can do that climate science can’t, Arts Hub, 16 April 2015. Guy is convinced that the creative power of the arts can inform, engage and motivate action on climate change and other sustainability issues. Undoubtedly, a rational and scientific engagement is vital to forming and enacting solutions to these challenges. But a cultural shift is also needed, and artists have the capacity to begin and reinforce this movement. Their work can help develop a cultural narrative that recognises the reality of our present, and inspires a vibrant, positive vision of the future.

Julie Francis

Julie Francis is an environmental scientist specialising in both regenerative agriculture and sustainable cities. She has worked in Victorian state and local government in policy and project roles that vary from sustainable agriculture and active transport to green infrastructure and collaborative governance of catchments. Julie has a Masters degree in Agriculture and is actively involved in the management of Moffits Farm, a sheep and farm forestry enterprise north of Melbourne. The property is a net carbon sink and regularly hosts visitors from local Landcare groups to international agricultural scientists.

Julie has also worked in the Urban Sustainability Branch at the City of Melbourne, where she has been involved in integrated water management and green infrastructure projects, including publishing the Growing Green Guide: A guide to green roofs, walls and facades in Melbourne and Victoria, Australia.She currently leads a collaboration of organisations working to transform the Moonee Ponds Creek into an iconic waterway for Melbourne.Julie is also a member of Horticulture Innovation Australia’s Green Cities Expert Advisory Panel, helping to select research projects for investment that explore the impacts of greening on our cities.

Bonnie Shaw

Bonnie Shaw heads up the Strategy, Knowledge and Public Programming teams for the Smart City Office at the City of Melbourne. In the last two years, Bonnie has led an ambitious Smart City and innovation agenda for Melbourne, to help prepare the city and its people to meet the opportunities and challenges of a rapidly changing world. Key projects include: Smart City Approach for Melbourne, Startup Action Plan for Melbourne, Melbourne Knowledge Week festival, Sharing Economy, and the Melbourne Innovation Districts partnership with the City of Melbourne, RMIT University and University of Melbourne.

Bonnie started her career as a landscape architect and urban designer, and moved into technology via digital engagement, game design and interactive theatre. Working across Australia, UK and USA, she has founded several startups and non-profits, and delivered strategy, engagement and digital product development for some of the worlds largest brands, institutions and non-profits. She was an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and Melbourne Business School, is a fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts and Manufacturing (RSA), and helped run the first hackathon at the Obama Whitehouse.

Read more about the forum topic, and register for the forum here.

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