This Think Tank explored the potential to build economic, social and environmental resilience across regional cities and their hinterlands, specifically investigating strong city centres’ capacity to adapt to climate change impacts and their consequences. The Think Tank drew on a range of perspectives from different sectors and jurisdictions across Australia. Participants were asked to identify policy gaps, research needs and opportunities for enhanced information exchange and links to accelerate the evolution and diffusion of enhanced practice.
Key messages for policy and research
• Regional cities are home to four million people across Australia but are under-recognised in urban planning and other aspects of government policy. Levels of economic activity and behaviour patterns in these cities are not well understood. Improved data would assist in informing future decision making.
• Resilience of regional cities can potentially be increased by concentrating activities within wellconnected, multi-functional city centres that minimise dependency upon private motor vehicles. The value of concentrated city centres relative to dispersed arrangements, in environmental, social and economic terms, needs to be better quantified to make the case for concentration.
• Concentration can be supported through planning, regulation and program and operational decisionmaking. This can include location of government agency offices and encouraging regionally-based service industries.
• Regional cities face a range of increased risks in a changing climate. Improved information on climate risks is required to encourage greater understanding and transparency about ‘risk ownership’ such as insurance costs from increasing risk of flood or fire. Risk information needs to be linked to potential areas of increased community vulnerability, such as aging or immigrant populations.
• Localised research alliances with universities that generate policy relevant research and build local capacity can enhance the development and resilience of regional cities.
• Localised alliances and multilateral forums across sectors can support regional development and resilience to climate change.
• Information exchange between cities in different locations and jurisdictions can be valuable for sharing ideas and innovation (Regional Capitals Australia local government group provides a potential framework).
• Regional cities can be used to trial models for timely and accelerated adaptation that can adopted more broadly in larger cities.