Partnerships for Sustainable Urban Development

Practitioners and academics gathered to explore collaborative research and practice opportunities to contribute to the 11th ‘urban’ Sustainable Development Goal, SDG11.

On 26 August 2019, over 45 practitioners and academics from across the Melbourne development community gathered to explore collaborative research and practice opportunities to contribute to the 11th ‘urban’ Sustainable Development Goal, SDG11.

With the SDGs applying across both developing and more developed countries, participants were encouraged to think differently about the SDG11 sub-targets and indicators, including how to apply strengths from within the region to Australian cities and vice versa. Activities then moved into more informal discussions aimed at building links and connections between individuals, organisations and institutions who share an interest in advancing Australia’s contribution to the UN’s 2030 Agenda.

The event was opened with brief presentations and Q&A from Leeanne Marshall (Shelter Advisor, Australian Red Cross and Co-Chair of the Australian Council for International Development Urban Community of Practice), Professor Michele Acuto (University of Melbourne Professor of Global Urban Politics and Director of the Connected Cities Lab) and Maree Grenfell (resilient Melbourne) chaired by Professor Don Henry AM (University of Melbourne Enterprise Professor of Environmentalism and former CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation and WWF Australia) who highlighted their concepts for an research/practice collaboration around SDG11, and thoughts on this from their own perspective / role in the sector.

Key points from the panel

Panelists pitched their own ideas for collaboration, with an emphasis on using partnerships to match organisational strengths and weaknesses and challenge norms in both practice and research. The importance of establishing baselines and focusing on measurable sub-targets and indicators within the SDGs was also highlighted as a key way to avoid ‘rainbow-washing’ existing programs and initiatives. Participants were then given an opportunity to develop pitches for a project that connects research to policy and practice for SDG 11.

Discussions from the room demonstrated that there was a diversity of thinking and approaches to how organisations are/are not engaging with the SDGs. There was, however, broad agreement that the agenda did offer a common language and framework which lends itself to a collaborative approach and concerted action towards transformational change.

Key themes

Food Security

Participants identified a need for various groups especially industry and government to come together to address the food system and minimise food wastage and food packaging. Researchers should work collaboratively with practitioners to collect and analyse data, and facilitate good practice with businesses, householders, waste management companies, and packaging companies. This work would support achievement of SDG Target 11.6 and contribute to many others.

Energy Efficiency

Participants identified a need for the building industry to work effectively with government to improve building efficiences from policies at all levels of government, design, specification, construction, governance, education, finance, education and training, appliances, incentives and compliance. Support from the three levels of government would produce an integrated strategy with approporiate funding. This would lead to an reduction in energy consumption in all sectors linked to building.

Social Housing

Participants supported social impact bonds and social development bonds being applied to a social housing context, which would require strong partnerships between Government and NGOs.