People and the Planet 2013: Transforming the Future

2–4 July 2013, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.

We are living through a period in human history when life on this planet is in danger of becoming unsustainable for many of its species—including us. More than a century ago, when Charles Dickens wrote the Tale of Two Cities, his words told of a deep ambivalence: ‘it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us’. The passage spoke of a new world in which the people of Paris and London had choices to make about their future. Now, variations on those words have become the backdrop to a growing sense that it is has become all too complicated.

This conference responds to that challenge in a number of ways. Firstly, instead of treating sustainability as a narrow ecological question framed by business as usual, it addresses the human condition across the integrated domains of economics, ecology, politics and culture. Secondly, the conference brings together the very different constituencies of academia, civil society, urban governance and business. It asks: What does it mean to be responsible for the future of our planet? How can we best work collaboratively across those different constituencies to address basic issues of sustainability? Thirdly, the conference asks: ‘What is to be done?’ This is not to reduce the future to technical solutions, but rather to debate how are we going to act now to work towards an imagined future.


Keynote Speakers

In addition to 100 academic presentations People and the Planet 2013 will feature an extraordinary range of leading thinkers from the academic, public and NGO sectors, including:

  • Joyati Das – Global Head, Centre of Expertise for Urban Programming, World Vision
  • Robyn Eckersley – Author of the Green State, leading environmentalist and Professor of Political Science, The University of Melbourne
  • Jerry Harris – National Secretary of the Global Studies Association of North America, and founding member of the Network for the Critical Study of Global Capitalism
  • Eric Herring – Deputy Director of the Global Insecurities Centre at the University of Bristol
  • Paul James – Director of RMIT University’s Global Cities Research Institute and the UN Global Compact Cities Programme
  • Peter Mandaville – Director, Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies and advisor to former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton
  • Robert Manne – Leading Australian public intellectual, and Convenor of the Society & Ideas Program
  • Kate Roffey – Chief Executive Officer of the Committee for Melbourne
  • Matthew Tukaki – Chief Executive Officer of the Sustain Group and Australia’s Representative to the United Nations Global Compact
  • Deborah Bird Rose – Author of prize-winning books, including the Dingo Makes Us Human and Professor for Social Inclusion, Macquarie University

For more information on all keynote speakers please visit the Keynote speaker page.


Conference Themes

Reflecting the diversity of challenges that now confront us, People and the Planet 2013 will see presentations from nine interconnecting research themes:

  • Urban Sustainability
  • Cultural Sustainability
  • Climate Change Adaptation
  • Community Sustainability
  • Globalization and Culture
  • Human Security and Disasters
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Sustainable Urban and Regional Futures
  • Global Ecologies and Culture


The Structure of the Conference

This is a three-day refereed academic conference which includes:

  • Keynote plenary sessions at the opening and closing of the conference.
  • Parallel sessions will be organized into themes during the day.
  • The first two days start at 9.00am and conclude at 6.00pm, the third day starts at 9.00am and concludes at 4.30pm.
  • A cocktail event will be held in the early evening of Day 1, Tuesday 2nd July from 6.00–7.00pm


A Globally Connected Conference

The People and the Planet 2013 conference is part of a larger process of rethinking sustainability across the world. The conference is co-organized by the UN Global Compact Cities Programme, and one of the tasks will be to debate and build upon the recommendations of the Cities Track of the UN Global Compact Rio +20 Corporate Sustainability Forum that led into the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Brazil in 2012. More than a one-off event, this conference contributes to a series of ongoing meetings, forums and panels.


Publications Coming out of the Conference


  • Fully refereed, double-blind process
  • Selected essays from Proceedings to be published in the Global Cities Annual Review
  • Two proposed anthologies submitted to Routledge (Urban Futures and Eco-Criticism)
  • Special issues proposed for journals (Local-Global, Arena Journal, and Communications, Politics & Culture)



RMIT University (Storey Hall)
342 Swanston Street
Melbourne  Victoria  3000



  • UN Global Compact Cities Programme
  • UN-Habitat World Urban Campaign
  • Cultural Development Network
  • Global Reconciliation
  • World Vision Australia and many more…

For further information and to view all of our sponsors click here



enquiries about People and the Planet can directed to our dedicated email account


Follow Us

You can also join and follow the conference via Facebook and Twitter. Simply click on the icons below: