Planning Institutes of Australia 2015 Young Planners Conference Forum

(7pm, Cockle Bay Room, Dockside Darling Harbour)

Thank you, Maurene, [Horder, PIA] and good evening, everyone.

It's a great pleasure to welcome you all to Sydney, Australia's leading city!

Our city generates around $108 billion worth of economic activity. It contributes seven per cent of Australia's GDP and almost one quarter of the NSW economy.

We are one of the fastest growing residential areas in NSW and in the five years to 2012, we secured 40 per cent of all jobs growth in metropolitan Sydney.

We are responsible for a daily influx of about one million workers and tourists as well as our increasing population densities and we continue to rank highly in international surveys of great cities to live and work. We are the world's most popular city to study in.

After an investigation into the size of international student populations for its 2014 Global Cities Index, consulting firm AT Kearney put Sydney ahead of 83 other cities, including London and New York.

Sydney is also beginning to be recognised as an innovative city. In a recent ranking of over 200 international cities by the consultancy 2ThinkNow, Sydney jumped several places, out-ranking Melbourne for the first time to be placed 17th in the top 20 innovative cities.

Sydney's current prosperity is no accident. Sydney today is the outcome of a decade of strong, stable, independent, corruption-free leadership with a long-term vision

When I became Lord Mayor in 2004, I wanted a plan that could continue no matter who was in Town Hall, Macquarie St or Canberra. So we undertook the largest ever community consultation in the City's history with residents and businesses, government and statutory authorities, visitors, and educational and cultural institutions.

97 per cent of people told us they wanted us to take action on climate change. They also said they want a city with a strong economy, one that supports the arts and connects its people to each other and the world.

Sustainable Sydney 2030 was the result of our consultation and research and it is the cornerstone of everything we do and has won wide support and worldwide acclaim.

At the City we consult and research, we commit and then we do.

We understand that in the 21st century, with mobile global capital and mobile international workforces, exceptional liveability is the key driver for a city's prosperity and growth.

Our work over the last 11 years has been based on that premise - that a city that works for its residents will also attract investors, entrepreneurs, students, visitors and a skilled, international workforce.

Since 2004, we've completed over 250 major projects including parks, playgrounds, childcare, pools, libraries, theatres, community and cultural spaces. We're now working on 370 projects as part of our ten-year plan.

We've approved around $25 billion worth of high-quality development and significant urban renewal is underway.

Importantly, we put a premium on planning and design excellence for private development as well as for our own projects, and have sought the best professional advice - whether through our Design Advisory Panel, or from internationally recognised experts like Jan Gehl, in shaping Sydney's future.

We have an innovative design excellence program that requires a competitive design process for all major buildings—a world first.

Through this program, over 100 projects have been awarded bonus floor space for design excellence, and a number have been recognised internationally. In the last ten years, our public infrastructure projects have won over 80 national and international awards.

This remarkable track record has led to our growing reputation and international profile for city design and liveability.

We have protected and improved our residential villages, making them local hubs which offer shops, cafes and recreational areas within walking distance of residents.

We stage events, support festival, instigate strategic planning and we advocate - as we did for light rail.

We've developed action plans for retail, tourism, visitor accommodation and tech start-ups. We established a Retail Advisory Panel and we work closely with the NSW Government and Business Events Sydney on tourism and business events.

All these diverse activities are part of our planning for Sydney's future.

Of course the biggest challenge is climate change but unfortunately, in Australia, we have not had the political leadership we need on this issue from the Federal and State Governments.

The Federal Government's target of 26 to 28 per cent by 2030 on 2005 levels places us at the back of the pack internationally. We can and must do more.

Australia emits more greenhouse gases per capita than any other developed nation and stronger targets are a key part of encouraging other nations to do more.

The community wants us to do more. Recent polling by the Climate Institute found two-thirds of Australians want the Federal Government to do more on climate change, and just under sixty per cent to be a world leader in climate change solutions.

Even though our State and Federal Governments have their heads in the sand on this issue, we are taking action.

At the City we've set a goal of a 70 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions based on 2006 levels for both our own operations and the Local Government Area.

The target is backed by a suite of innovative Master Plans and we are making good progress.

In 2007 we became the first carbon neutral local government in Australia and since that time we've reduced our own greenhouse emissions by 21 per cent - next year, it will reach 26 per cent.

Greenhouse emissions across our Local Government Area have fallen by 12 per cent at the same time as we have enjoyed a period of strong economic growth.

Our carbon intensity - the amount of greenhouse emissions for each dollar of economic output - has fallen by almost 30 per cent.

As planners, you have an important role to play in designing our future cities and finding ways to reduce impacts on our environment.

One of those ways is through increased urban development - urbanisation is critical because we can't keep developing our food basin and we shouldn't sentence people to a life in the outskirts of suburbia, cut off from effective transport and services.

But it needs to be done right!

I believe the key to a successful global city is one that is environmentally sustainable, provides access to a wider job market, education and other essential services especially transport, is actively serviced with community infrastructure and parks and green spaces with a rich variety of choices and activities; a lively social and cultural life and a safe and diverse night-time culture. A city guided by the principles of design excellence.

Places that are good for people to live are also good places to work and do business.

I hope this conference will inform, inspire and energise you to think about your role in the future of our cities.

Thank you.


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