The Future of Cities: a national dialogue to understand the need for change

Understanding how cities can adapt to future challenges is critically important for the future of humanity.

The Challenge

Understanding resilient cites

Fundamentally, cities need to change in order to be resilient for the 21st century, and the first step is identifying critical uncertainties and vulnerabilities.

This means analysing the social, technological, environmental, economic and political systems of urban centres.

All cities are unique; however, the answers to the big picture trends and problems of population growth, climate extremes and societal changes will come from a broader understanding of cities as a whole.

Under the banner of Resilient Cities of the 21st Century (RC21), the Cities of the Future project brings together internal and external expertise on a national scale to explore the topic of resilient cities.

Our Response

Working with scenarios

Workshops held under the Cities of the Future project seek to solve future problems by constructing a set of future scenarios and using those to focus dialogue on the role that science and research might play over the short, medium and longer term time-horizons.

Collaborative workshops are set up in different Australian cities, where scenarios are refined and explored in the context of local issues.

Scenario development processes are used to distil important paradigm shifts for cities, such as the shift to affordable and sustainable housing.

Visualisation and modelling outputs are sought, using different techniques:

  • participatory modelling approaches that describe the high level dynamic of cities
  • artistic representations of scenarios using illustrations or videos
  • spatial representations of scenarios.

Ultimately, the Future Cities project will identify plausible and perhaps necessary hypothetical shifts through which cities will become more resilient.

These hypothetical shifts are seen as innovation challenges which the Innovation Hub (a RC21 sister project) can address, and which the Urban Living Lab (another RC21 sister project) can put into practice.

This interaction with complementary RC21 initiatives shows its unique value proposition as part of a process for catalysing innovation that should lead to more resilient cities. A number of partners will participate in innovation workshops and crowd sourcing campaigns to contribute an array of responses.

The Results

Providing guidance for the future

The future of how we organise cities is critically important for the prosperity of humanity.

There are enormous uncertainties, risks and opportunities that need to be taken into account.

Futures thinking and systems thinking can provide guidance in terms of understanding the need for change, and reduce blind-spots and cognitive biases when thinking about resilient cities.

It is hoped that the project will identify ways to promote urban resilience, thus guiding further interventions and innovation towards true resilience for our cities.

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