Cities for change

5 Jan 2022

Authored by Rishi Goel

The 2021 Asia Pacific Cities Summit focussed on one particular theme: inclusion. Inclusion creates opportunity, and with opportunity comes diversity. In preparation for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, this should be our city’s primary objective. 

This year I represented the Liveris Academy at the biennial Asia Pacific Cities Summit which aims to bring people together to create collaborative cities and drive sustainable economic growth for Brisbane and the wider Asia Pacific region. The opportunity broadened my perspectives on what cities can, and should, aim to deliver for their citizens. 

To set the scene for the Summit, Kurt Fearnley AO – Paralympic champion and Australian icon – presented an incredibly impactful speech. He spoke about his life and the challenges he has faced. He centred on the necessity to rise to these challenges, and in doing so, to instigate change. On this journey to change, he reminded us that we need to bring our community with us and remember to sometimes have a laugh along the way. 

This focus on the importance of change was carried throughout the day’s theme of Connected Cities. Collaboration was also a frequent topic, especially highlighted in the Future Cities Panel which included 6 mayors of the Southeast Queensland region. As a newcomer to local politics, it was great to see some friendly banter and a clear enthusiasm for working together to ensure that Queensland will be well prepared for the onslaught of challenges that we are going to face in the lead up to 2032. 

It was also encouraging to see the Summit include a range of diverse voices, notable through the inclusion of 32 four-minute talks from individuals in the community who wish to make change. These ranged from concepts of local habitat renovation to safer emergency practises to cybersecurity and data manipulation. 

One of the most notable threads pertained to energy. A myriad of speakers mentioned how energy is, and will continue to be, a catalyst for change. Our lives are dictated by energy and how we use the energy available to us. This leads to strong opportunities at the intersection of transport, renewable energy generation and energy retailing. In particular, the concept of an electric tram system stood out to me.

At first it seemed illogical – an in-depth discussion about introducing trams to a city that has previously removed its entire tram network. However, it became clear the talk was less about trams itself and more so on the process of integrating renewable design into modern transportation. This idea was then built on by subsequent speakers and it appeared to gain more traction with key stakeholders across the city. It was incredible to see how an event like this could provide a platform for an idea, and to watch on as it was tested, debated, and adopted by a range of industry, government and community voices. 

The summit was a phenomenal experience and an opportunity that highlighted the deeper workings behind our beautiful city and how it will be up to us to drive sustainable and inclusive change for all. I look forward to attending, and participating in, many more to come.