Monday, August 01, 2011

Planning a Sustainable Canberra

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Professor Barbara NormanProfessor Barbara Norman, is talking on "SURF, TURF and CURF: A Sustainable Regional Future". She was commissioned by the Department of Climate Change to write the discussion paper "A low carbon and resilient urban future: a strategic approach to settlement planning for climate change", published in 2010.

Professor Norman started by reviewing recent policy developments by the federal government, describing this as the most significant since the Whitlam era. The new Regional Development Australia (RDA) policy takes a triple bottom line approach:
Regional Development Australia (RDA) is an Australian Government initiative that brings together all levels of government to support the growth and development of regional Australia. RDA is delivered through a national network of 55 committees who build partnerships between governments, regional development organisations, local businesses, community groups and key regional stakeholders to provide strategic and targeted responses to social, economic and environmental issues affecting regional Australia. The RDA National Charter [PDFPDF: 48 KB] sets out the areas of focus for the RDA network. The RDA National Roles and Responsibilities [PDFPDF: 59 KB] sets out the roles and responsibilities of the RDA network.
Professor Norman argued that planning action was needed to the effects of climate change, particularly rising sea levels and extreme weather events, without lessening work on prevention. She asked "What do we do about the Gold Coast? It is virtually a vertical retirement village". She also criticised a now abandoned proposed NSW state policy to respond to coastal erosion by issuing sandbags to residents. More practically, local people are taking useful pragmatic action, such as building new jetties higher.

Professor Norman proposed reopening a rial link to Cooma, praising the redevelopment of rail in Victoria and its effect on the economic revival of centers such as Ballarat. She also complemented voluntary regional local government plans such as Geelong G21. She criticized the ACT Government Infrastructure Plan as it stopped at the Canberra border and the ANU and University of Canberra for not having any joint planning.

Professor Norman advocated an integrated regional spatial plan for the Canberra region and for high speed railway on the eastern Australian seaboard. There is a ACT Strategic Regional Plan 2010 from Regional Development Australia (ACT).

Professor Norman then talk about CURF: "a platform for information-sharing across organizations in the Canberra region". This appears to be based at University of Canberra, with cooperation from ANU. Unfortunately exactly what CURF was and does was not clear. Perhaps my Green Information Technology Strategies students at ANU can contribute.

Professor Norman ended by mentioning CAPITheticAL, a competition with a $70,000 first prize on planning of Canberra:

CAPITheticAL invites responses to many questions, including:

  • Would you build a new capital today or could the Australian Federation be expressed in a different way?
  • Would it be a city in the conventional sense or not? If not, what form might it take?
  • What ideas would drive its design and development?
  • How would 21st century social, political and environmental factors influence the nature of the city?
  • Of what should our national capital consist?

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