UNSW Built Environment will host the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Sustainable Cities and Landscapes (SCL) Research Hub conference from 29 August to 1 September in the Roundhouse on the UNSW Sydney campus.

The Conference will bring together more than 100 delegates from universities in 14 Pacific Rim countries to collaborate in small working groups on the range of sustainability challenges they share. The working group themes encompass a range of social, economic and environmental issues relevant to sustainability initiatives including urban biodiversity, renewable energy, smart cities, vulnerable communities, landscape and human health, and food and nutrition security.

The conference is linked to the UNSW Grand Challenge on Rapid Urbanisation led by UNSW Built Environment Professor David Sanderson, Inaugural Judith Neilson Chair in Architecture. Sanderson said the conference is an opportunity for researchers and experts from different regions, cultures and disciplines to advance their ideas and research outputs with colleagues from across the Pacific Rim.

The opening event for the conference is a public lecture by Brett Moore, UNHCR Head of Shelter and Settlements, on Thursday evening, 29 August. Brett will address the scope of global humanitarian displacement and how cities must plan to respond to this crisis, while identifying the potential for this new population to contribute to future urban diversity and resilience.

Also, that evening will be the announcement of the winners of the Cities and Refugees Global Student Design Ideas Competition, sponsored by the Rapid Urbanisation Grand Challenge. The competition attracted entries from around the world, inviting students to share innovative ways to improve the lives of refugees in cities.

“We are facing two global crises simultaneously in population growth and climate change,” Professor Sanderson said. “There has never been a greater need than today to understand and manage the interconnection between cities and their surrounding landscapes. The APRU Conference brings together key policymakers, researchers and practitioners from a range of disciplines to find answers to some of the biggest questions of our time.”

UNSW Professor Linda Corkery, Director of the Landscape Architecture Discipline at UNSW Built Environment, said the opportunity to work with a university network like APRU at a faculty level is beneficial for the University and faculty.

“Sometimes global university networks operate mainly at a very high level,” Professor Corkery said. “Activating these networks at the faculty level, as we’re doing through this Research Hub, positions Built Environment to promote the strategic mission of UNSW while encouraging the research agendas of our academics through international connections.”

The 2019 gathering is the third time the conference has been held with previous events hosted by the University of Oregon and Hong Kong University. Unlike the typical academic conference format, the APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Conference is structured around thematic working groups that have carried through from previous conferences. The themes are:

  • Infrastructural ecologies
  • Urban renewable energy
  • Smart cities
  • Sustainable urban design
  • Urban-rural linkages
  • Transitions in urban waterfronts
  • Vulnerable communities
  • Landscape and human health
  • Urban biodiversity
  • Food and nutrition security
  • Water and wastewater

Corkery has worked closely with Landscape Architecture Program colleagues Catherine Evans, Senior Lecture, and Sara Padgett Kjaersgaard, Lecturer, to develop the three-day conference program. The conference program will highlight some of the leading-edge research of UNSW Built Environment academics focused on shaping a sustainable and resilient urban future. International participants will be introduced to Sydney’s environmental history and patterns of settlement that distinguish it by UTS Professor Emerita Heather Goodall. Specific contemporary urban challenges facing Sydney’s strategic planning will be presented by Roderick Simpson, Environment Commissioner for the Greater Sydney Commission and Adjunct Professor in Built Environment. Jacinta McCann, BLArch alumna and 2019 UNSW Alumni Award winner, will reflect on her involvement in project work in cities around the Pacific Rim, and the important nexus between practitioners, researchers, and policymakers.

Between Working Group sessions, conference delegates will have opportunities to venture out to some of Sydney’s award-winning constructed urban landscapes as well as the beauty of the coastline and harbour.

For more information about the APRU Sustainable Cities & Landscapes Research Hub and the program for the 2019 Conference, please contact Linda Corkery, l.corkery@unsw.edu.au.