By Paul Hemsley
Mayors from New South Wales will meet with leading American experts in sustainable urban design and planning from this week to thrash out how they can embed sustainable thinking into local precincts.
The local swap of global ideas is part of a “Mayor’s forum” hosted by the United States Studies Centre (USSC) at the University of Sydney that lets Australian community leaders tap into overseas experiences on issues of mutual concern.
Mayors from councils including Parramatta, Liverpool, Tamworth and Woollahra have been invited the University of Sydney for the three-day workshop on 4th to 6th April to evaluate changes to urban planning in their area.
A mayoral delegation is expected to travel to the US for a week long study tour of the West Coast in June 2013 to see first hand how American communities create sustainability and transform the lifestyles of residents.
The aim of the “study tour” is to have the Australian local government leaders to learn from their overseas counterparts and potentially apply innovative solutions here if they are applicable.
The international meeting of local government leaders at the University of Sydney is part of a program developed by the USSC with support from NSW Trade and Investment and the Delivering a Sustainable City program.
The initiative is based on the “Mayor’s Institute” forum conducted in the US where local leaders collaborate with academics to create plans to redesign precincts so they can adapt to changes in energy and water demands.
The Mayor’s Institute has aimed renew town centres or high streets, redesigning community precincts and parks, or generate alternative transport solutions.
The NSW mayors will discuss issues and solutions in sustainability with Rocky Mountain Institute managing director Robert ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson; Regional Plan Association New York senior fellow in urban design Robert Lane; honourary professor in urban policy at the USSC Edward Blakely; and University of Sydney associate professor and director of the urban design program in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning Rod Simpson.
Now based in Sydney, Professor Blakely travelled to the US in December 2012 to assist the New York State Respond Commission in the massive recovery effort following the unprecedented destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy.