A few years ago I helped write a study called ‘Melbourne Beyond 5 Million’, part of a Committee of Melbourne initiative aimed at boosting the city’s quality of life given the challenges of more people and rapid growth.
Since then the pressures have only increased and it’s now expected that Melbourne will double in size to around 8 million in just the next generation.
While this is a sign of Melbourne’s ongoing success due to strategic investments in housing, infrastructure, planning and mobility, Melbourne keeps getting voted the world’s ‘most liveable city’ (by the EIU) needless to say,it also means the city faces far bigger stresses going forward.
‘Liveability’ is a great result of course, but Melbourne will need to get a whole suite of urban outcomes right if it is going to remain a global, smart city. After all, the competition both here and internationally for skilled people, new business and cutting edge technologies is intense.
I recently joined Arcadis as their City Executive Melbourne, part of a global cities program committed to not only understanding how to make cities fit for the future, but focused on providing the tools to make it happen.
The Sustainabile Cities Index that Arcadis released last year did just that. It looked at 100 cities worldwide ranked around 3 concepts of People, Profit and Planet (or lifestyle, business and the environment if you prefer) underpinned by 24 detailed indicators such as transport, pollution or health.
With an overall 32nd global ranking in the Sustainable Cities Index, Melbourne is clearly one of the world’s top performing cities. The SCI scored Melbourne at 22 for People, 26 for Profit and 46 for Planet, suggesting we’re getting a lot right, but can do much better on a number of measures.
While the global rankings are interesting, the Arcadis SCI is first and foremost an innovative and comprehensive way to look at what smart cities need to get right in the 21st Century. Importantly, it hands everyone from planners to politicians and even communities a clear way to think about the urban environment and how it can adapt to new challenges.
One of the most useful, I think, is resiliency. How do we ensure a city’s physical, social and economic systems can respond to the shocks and strains of growth while delivering the very best quality of life for everyone who lives there? It’s the debate we need to start having now.
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