• Scott Millar

Extreme Cities - Planning for the Future

Did you know that by 2050, two thirds of our population will be living in megacities? With the global population expected to hit 10 billion by 2050, some of the countries leading engineers and urban planners sat down to discuss the effects this population boom will have on how we build and plan our cities.

We are living in a world that is constantly growing, changing and developing and we need to plan and build our cities to accomodate this. To put the challenge into perspective for you - for us to accomodate the extra 3 billion people that will be on this planet by 2050, we would have to build a new city that can hold 1 million people, every 5 days!

To tackle this challenge head on, Tanya Ha sat down with architect and city planner Malcolm Smith, award-winning civil engineer Cheryl Desha and costal specialist Barbra Norman; to talk about extreme cities at the World Science Festival Brisbane. 

The panel covered some fantastic topics talking about the need for state and federal governments to take initiative and establish a set of sustainable city goals and guidelines. In addition, they also touched on some of our small to medium sized regional hubs being powerhouses for sustainability and innovation, with Canberra on track to be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2020. 

We then turned our sights globally to look at what countries and cities around the world were really making an impact. Amsterdam was a clear leader in this department, already sitting 7 feet below sea level, the city thrives and continues to innovate to ensure a sustainable future. In addition to this, we examined the excellent solutions being implemented at the Lady Cilento Children’s hospital such as green spaces, vertical gardens and more! 

What can people do to get involved and make a difference?

Whilst a lot of this change sounds like it is up to engineers, governments and town planners to implement, the speakers ensured that everyday people can get involved too!

  • Get friends together with a shared desire for change and start doing small projects around the community. Whether it is raising awareness, establishing a community garden/veggie patch or cleaning up the local parks, all the small things make a difference.

  • Find a project that is already happening in your city and get involved - check out the fantastic work happening with the Brisbane City Council Green Heart Initiative.

  • Be politically active - raise awareness, write a letter to your local MP and tell them about they change you want to see in the community.

  • Find one thing you can do around the house and actually do it - take the first step to build a muscle you didn’t have before. Whether it is turning the lights off when you leave the house or starting a compost bin, it all makes a difference.