Peter Newton – Transitions: Sustainable Urban Development

How will we rejuvenate our occupied suburbs and transform them for efficient use?

As a Chief Research Scientist for CSIRO, Dr Newton directed the program of research related to sustainable built environments. His latest book, “Transitions”, identifies key challenges facing Australia’s “mega-metro” areas, and offers potential future solutions. He presented some of these at the second Eco-Innovation Seminar in June 2008 for the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL).

Clip 1

In this first clip, Dr Newton gives an overview of the current challenges facing Australia and the shift to sustainable consumption.

Clip 2

What are the major challenges in mitigation and adaptation for our cities? What is resilience? Dr Newton elaborates on the kinds of impacts climate change can be expected to have on our cities. He discusses the notions of physical resilience as well as social and human resilience in the face of massive change. The concept of Triple Horizon Development is introduced and explained.

Clip 3

This clip continues to explore the transition-phases from Horizon 1 through to 3, looking at the specific areas of water, energy and urban space. How will we rejuvenate our occupied suburbs and transform them for efficient use?

Clip 4

A further discussion of our urban and suburban spaces, and how inefficiently we are currently using them. Dr Newton reveals aspects of a project he is undertaking at the moment. The goal is to identify suburban areas which have great potential to be redeveloped into parcels of land which can be used as sites for the efficient infrastructure of the distributed networks we will need for energy, water, food and housing.

Clip 5

Continuing the discussion of Behaviour Change in our society, the question is then to ask what the tipping point is that would shift us from Horizon 2 to Horizon 3. That is, from awareness and concern to action. We know the challenges, so the questions are: what is being done, and why doesn’t current policy reflect these needs?