Local communities in New South Wales are invited by the US Studies Center, University of Sydney, to participate in the "Delivering a Sustainable Future City" program, February 7, 2013. Image: The United States Studies Centre

Sydney City Leaders Return from Urban Sustainability Tour in the United States


City leaders from six Sydney councils completed a tour to the United States in June where they shared strategies on urban sustainability with their U.S. counterparts. Led by Professor Edward Blakely, from the United States Study Center at the University of Sydney, the trip was attended by representatives from Balcktown, Botany, Liverpool, Parramatta, Waverley, and Woolhara councils.

The Delivering a Sustainable Future City initiative “is based on the Mayor’s Institute forum conducted in the United States, where like-minded leaders meet to work with leading thinkers to develop innovative solutions for re-designing precincts so they are great places to live and work, and are also adaptive to the changes in energy and water demands — from renewing town centers or high streets, to re-designing community precincts and parks, or alternative transport possibilities.”

There are three components to the program. The first part consists of each selected community partaking in a Sustainability Analysis where the local community works “with specialists in carbon assessment and urban design to prepare an analysis of economic, energy and carbon impacts. This will allow these factors to be measured before and after any strategic options and scenarios are devised.” This was then followed by a the Mayor’s Forum in Sydney, a three-day workshop on promoting sustainability and re-designing the urban environment, and which was hosted at the University of Sydney in early April.

The final stage is the Study Tour where the Australian city leaders get an opportunity to visit the West Coast of the United States to meet with like-minded city leaders to explore innovative strategies for transforming urban environments into more sustainable and liveable communities. Participants started in Los Angeles, CA, where they visited parts of the city to see firsthand some of the innovative urban projects currently underway in downtown LA. Next the delegation moved onto Portland, OR, to examine transit and energy projects with the help of the Portland Sustainability Institute. The final destination was Boulder, CO, to meet with leaders from various organizations, including the Denver Urban Land Institute, the Rocky Mountain Institute and Local Business Partnership.

Sandy Burgoyne, leader of the United States Studies Centre Urban Environment Program at the University of Sydney, explained that “Meeting with mayors from around the U.S. was an exceptional opportunity to share ideas and build new bilateral relationships between cities across the Pacific.”