Conference paper

Sustainability, vulnerability, resilience and change: the efficacy of comparative urban metrics for city development in Australia

Cities and towns Urban planning Sustainability Urban resilience Australia
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Abstract: Recent comparative metrics that rank different cities based on selected criteria have yielded interesting and sometimes varied results, depending on what is being measured, how it is being measured and why it is being measured. This paper explores the efficacy of such ranking systems for Australia’s largest cities, focusing on the links between ranking outcomes and policy formulation regarding vulnerability, resilience and sustainability. The paper concludes that the links between measurement and policy development are complex and that while comparative metrics may be useful, care should be taken with such tools. There is potential for the Commonwealth Government through the Major Cities Unit to work with the major environmental groups and develop meaningful and reliable sustainability metrics that incorporate notions of resilience. The paper provides a four-step process to link comparative urban sustainability metrics with resilience, with funding models and to develop an expanded notion of ‘large city’ that includes growing inland centres. This process, building on recent achievements in building a national urban focus by the Australian Conservation Foundation and by the Commonwealth Government, is a pragmatic way to foster urban sustainability. If done well, comparative urban metrics can be very efficacious in promoting resilience and enhancing sustainability.

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