15 September 2008

Melbourne: "Australia’s city of the future"

The Ethishpere Magazine has released a report detailing the top twenty cities that will be centres of global sustainability by 2020, and Melbourne is representing Down Under.

The report outlines the plans for 20 of the leading cities that aim to become "2020 Global Sustainability Centres", all of which are large, cosmopolitan and economically-significant cities. 

Richard Levine, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Cities, said the majority of cosmopolitan cities are concentrating on rectifying aspects of their city that make them unsustainable, rather than focusing on creating an overall sustainable environment.  

Cities received ratings on their environmental plan and progress, health and recreation, education, arts and culture, transportation and housing, economy and business development, regulatory framework, law enforcement and transparency, media and speech, and innovation and investment.

William Rees, Professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning, told the magazine the list of sustainable cities will be advantageous for businesses and migrants, because sustainable development in cities leads to a higher quality of life.

"When it comes right down to it, executives often make decisions about the location of plants, head offices and so on based on quality of life indicates; where they want their family to live," Rees says. "And so, we do tend to make decisions based on those things, even in defiance of economic numbers that say going somewhere else is a better idea."

Melbourne made it into the magazine’s top ten cities for sustainable approaches, along with London, Frankfurt, New York, Toronto, Cape Town, Abu Dhabi and Curitiba in Brazil.  The Melbourne Plan is hoped to turn Melbourne into one of the top ten most liveable cities in the world by 2020.  As part of the Plan, the Government aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent from the 2006 levels and reduce water usage by 40 per cent over the same period. 

According to the business ethics magazine, Melbourne has the one of the largest populations of international students, all of which are Australian student visa holders, and 44 per cent of its inhabitants migrated to Australia on Australian visas.

"In Melbourne we've focused on enhancing our city's characteristics to build its identity as a place for people," Lord Mayor John So told the Sun-Herald.

"Our laneways and arcades have spawned a cafe culture which is enjoyed by everyone who experiences it.  We have a large student population, which makes Melbourne a young city. But I think our greatest advantage is our cultural diversity. In Melbourne, you'll always find something you like to see or do."

Wellington in New Zealand and Edinburgh also made the top 20 list.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people apply for an Australia visa.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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