Keynote Speakers and Recordings


Alice Cope Alice Cope

Collective Impact and the Power of Many 

Abstract: Just over 12 months ago the United Nations Secretary General set forth a challenge to the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post 2015 Development Agenda. It is set against an ever changing world with a further billion people on the planet in 2030, where more than half of us now live in cities and where private investment in developing countries now dwarfs aid flows. It is a world where technology is transforming our lives both personally and commercially. There are now more than 6 billion mobile phone subscriptions compared to only a handful in the eighties. It is a world where 1.2 billion people account for only 1 % of world population while the billion richest consume 72%.  The challenge – where to next and, importantly how. The role of business and industry in an ever changing world where resources are becoming fewer and the population greater is central to connecting the three pillars of sustainable development – social, economic and environment – but what is the role of business and how can change the way we work, consume and produce?

About: Alice is the Executive Manager of the Global Compact Network Australia, the Australian network of the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate responsibility initiative through which companies and other organisations commit to universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.  Alice was previously a Policy & Sustainability Advisor at the UN Global Compact in New York where she focused primarily on the social aspects of sustainability including women’s empowerment and Indigenous peoples’ rights.  Prior to moving into corporate responsibility, Alice was a corporate lawyer for a number of years with one of Australia’s leading law firms, Allens, where she advised some of Australia’s largest companies on mergers and acquisitions and broader corporate issues across a range of sectors.


Joyati Das 

Towards A Just City Where Children Thrive 

Abstract: The unprecedented increase in urban population has driven an exponential increase in demand for infrastructure and services, leaving millions of people vulnerable worldwide. The urban poor often face exploitation, violence and high risk of disease in overcrowded slums. International NGOs have been slow to respond to the megatrend of urbanisation and its impacts. As one of the largest INGOs focused on child well-being, World Vision International is keen to learn more about the implications of the megatrend of urbanisation. The organisation has established an urban centre of research and knowledge management to contribute to sustainable ‘Cities for Children’. 

World Vision is already present in the world’s most rapidly urbanising countries. However, like most NGOs World Vision’s urban footprint is limited and its programming model is essentially designed for stable,cohesive communities – found predominantly in rural contexts.  

Joyati Das, Global Head of World Vision’s Centre of Expertise for Urban Programming, will highlight the need for INGOs to embrace the changing contexts and realign their role with the urbanising world. This will require reprioritisation as well as a multi-disciplinary integrated approach to contribute impact and effectiveness in urban areas.

About: Joyati leads the Centre of Expertise for Urban Programming in World Vision to which she brings more than 20 years of diverse work experiences from India, Middle East and Australia.  She is passionate about human rights, and development issues seeking innovative approaches to address issues of urban poverty and sustainable development. In World Vision, Joyati has held senior management and advisory roles in the Indigenous programs team, Asian Tsunami Response, and Urban Programs.


Robyn Eckersley 

Extending Responsibility for Global Environmental Problems 

Abstract: If global environmental problems were caused by a few ‘rogue’ states or corporations, then it is quite likely that we would see a concerted and effective international and national response.  However, such a response is lacking because global problems such as climate change and biodiversity loss are largely the by-products of routine, ‘normal’ practices in which we are all implicated, in varying degrees. Growing global economic interconnectedness has also extended the separation between the various actors and institutions that generate these problems and the social and ecological communities that suffer the worst impacts across space and time. This has made it very difficult to pin down responsibility and very easy to evade responsibility. This presentation will argue that an effective response to global environmental problems demands that we rethink conventional notions of responsibility, based on individual agency, direct causation and culpability, and move towards a post-liberal, cosmopolitan understanding of “extended responsibility” that is more appropriate to a complex and interdependent world. The argument will be illustrated through a range of different examples, such as extended producer and consumer responsibility, and various forms of enlarged political accountability to wider communities-at-risk in space and time.

About: Robyn is a Professor of Political Science in the School of Social and Political Sciences at The University of Melbourne. She has published widely in the intersecting areas of environmental politics, policy and political theory and is best known for her books Environmentalism and Political Theory (1992) and The Green State: Rethinking Democracy and Sovereignty (2004).  She is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and was appointed as the Arne Naess Chair in Global Justice and the Environment at the University of Oslo for the northern winter of 2010-2011.


Jerry Harris 

Urban Sustainability, Jobs and the Environment 

Abstract: Sustainable cities cannot exist without sustainable jobs. But technology and globalization has destroyed the old mass base industrial economy. Information technologies deskilled and reduced the need for labor, particularly in those industries that provided a decent standard of living for the working class. These technologies also created new tools for capital investments that lead to the financialization of capitalism, widespread speculative stocks and a growing gap between productive labor and wealth. At the same time globalization opened the door to millions of new workers, undercut the ability of governments to design and implement national developmental strategies outside of neoliberal constraints and largely destroyed the social contract. The economic crisis coincides with a deep ecological crisis of which global warming is only one important aspect. The toxic chemical soup and fossil fuel pollution in which our cities stew degrades our health and quality of life with every breath. The solution points to building an urban environment with sustainable jobs based in the green economy and run with democratic principles of control and community responsibility. Cooperatively owned business’ under local control and situated in the broad and growing field of green technologies can be an important step towards building the sustainable cities of the near future.

About: Jerry is a founding member and national secretary of the Global Studies Association of North America. He also serves on the international executive of the Network for the Critical Study of Global Capitalism (as well as being a founding member).  He is the author of The Dialectics of Globalization: Economic and Political Struggle in a Transnational World, and with Carl Davidson, Cyber Radicalism: A New Left for a Global Age. He is Professor of History at DeVry University in Chicago. He was previously assistant to the Commissioner of Employment in the Chicago city government; Public relations director and editor for the United Steelworkers Union in Chicago, and a union activist in Kentucky.


Eric Herring Eric Herring

Transforming Insecurity Through the Co-Production of Knowledge in Nonviolent Grassroots Networks

About: Eric is the Deputy Director of the Global Insecurities Centre at the University of Bristol. He has published widely on critical security studies.  He is principal investigator for an international collaborative project on Grassroots Security. Using wide-ranging cases—such as neighbourhood watch in Somalia to prevent suicide bomb attacks, grassroots projects to record every casualty of armed conflict and the global movement against the street harassment of women—the project explores how nonviolent grassroots networks supported by knowledge brokers who bridge the gap between research and practice can transform global insecurities.


Michael Humphrey

Violence and Urban Governance in Neoliberal Cities in Latin America 

Abstract: This presentation explores the responses of Latin American governments to the phenomenon of high levels of criminal violence and social conflict in Latin American cities. The region has the highest homicide rates in the world and the some of the highest levels of ongoing social protest. It outlines a neoliberal urban security model that has emerged in Latin American cities alongside urban political economy regime supporting ‘competitive cities’. It examines its impact on controlling crime and creating more inclusive urban space drawing on examples from Buenos Aires, Bogotá, Mexico City and Caracas. It argues that urban segregation is driven by the spatialising of security and the selective support for urban development/renewal. The project of making cities safe for people and investment is accompanied by securitisation, the risk management of ‘dangerous’ urban spaces through repression.  Making cities safe involves the management of the level of crime and the level of fear, the objective and the subjective impact of urban violence. Citizen security programmes seek to address citizen insecurity through participatory citizenship but they often also reinforces urban segregation and exclusion not inclusion.

About: Michael holds the Chair in Sociology at the University of Sydney. He has published widely on globalization and the crisis of the nation-state. He has undertaken research on Islam in the West, the impact of war and terrorism on societies, human rights politics and reconciliation, and citizen insecurity and urban governance. He is currently researching globalization, urban governance and violence in Latin American cities. His main publications are Islam, Multiculturalism and Transnationalism: From the Lebanese Diaspora (1998) and The Politics of Atrocity and Reconciliation: From Terror to Trauma, (2002). He is currently working on a book with Estela Valverde entitled Amnesty and Transitional Justice: The Judicialisation of Politics.


Paul James Paul James 

Destroying the Planet Slowly: What are we going to do about it? 

Abstract: We live in a period that for some time has been called ‘the anthropocene period’, the period in which humans have had a recognizable impact upon the earth’s ecological systems. However, more than that we live in a recent phase of that longer period which began with our capacity to make our own lives on this planet unsustainable: ecologically, economically, politically and culturally. We are the first civilization with the technological and social capacity to override prior senses of boundaries and limits—and we know it. Over the last hundred years, three key defining influences on the planet have been human population growth, urbanization and globalization. These trends have come into intersection with each as part of a manifold crisis of the human condition. Firstly, a population explosion, together with an economic-growth fetish, has put unprecedented ecological pressure on the planet. Secondly, an unabated movement of people move from rural to urban areas has, particularly associated with slum development in the Global South, put increased pressure on urban infrastructure and relations of inequality. Thirdly, globalization has crossed and challenged the boundaries of cultural difference. Such boundaries have ironically hardened across religious and political differences that were previously difficult but usually negotiated successfully. This talk responds to these themes and discusses principles for acting differently.

About: Paul is the Director of the UN Global Compact Cities Programme. Paul is also Director of the RMIT Global Cities Institute, his academic expertise is in Globalisation and Cultural Diversity and he is the author or editor of 24 books. Paul has been invited to deliver addresses in over twenty countries including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Israel-Palestine, Japan, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Taiwan and the United States. He has been an advisor to a number of agencies and governments including the Helsinki Process, the Canadian Prime Minister G20 Forum (2004), the National Economic Advisory Council of Malaysia, and the Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor and the Papua New Guinea Minister for Community Development. Paul’s awards include the Japan-Australia Foundation Fellowship, an Australian Research Council Fellowship, and the Crisp Medal by the Australasian Political Studies Association for the best book in the field of political studies.


Peter Mandaville 

Consuming Muslims: Global Neoliberalism and the Transformation of “Political Islam” 

Abstract: It is possible today to identify new modalities of Islamic activism that can best be accounted for by understanding Muslims around the world–and in this case with specific reference to transnational movements with origins in Europe, Turkey, Egypt, and Indonesia–as disciplined by a global neoliberalism that constitutes them first and foremost as consuming subjects. I use elements of new social movement theory to explain how various forms of consumption relating to leisure, new media, and shopping and the concomitant challenges they pose to traditional forms of religious authority in the Muslim world have given rise to Islamic “lifestyle” movements that are challenging the previous monopoly possessed by conventional Islamist groups and parties in the public sphere. In sketching this decidedly “post-Islamist” landscape, I also highlight a number of Muslim thinkers and activists seeking to mobilize an emancipatory “critical Islam” that is simultaneously wary of both embedded neoliberalism and traditional forms of hegemony within Islam itself.

About: Peter is the Director of the Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies and a professor of government and politics at George Mason University (GMU). Peter is also a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute. In 2011-12, he served as a member of Hillary Clinton’s Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State where his portfolio focused on U.S. policy in the Middle East during the ‘Arab Spring’. Peter is most recently the author of Global Political Islam (Routledge, 2007). Other books include Transnational Muslim Politics: Reimagining the Umma (Routledge, 2001) as well as several volumes of edited essays in the fields of international relations and Islamic Studies, including most recently Politics from Afar: Transnational Diasporas & Networks (Columbia University Press, 2012). His current research focuses on globalization, identity and transnationalism in the Muslim world and the concept of post-Western world order.


Robert Manne

Climate Change: Some Reasons for Our Failure 

Abstract: It is becoming increasingly clear that human beings will allow the Earth’s climate to change in ways that threaten the future of their own species and others. For social scientists the overwhelming question is why. Some of the most important explanations and contributions from the literature will be outlined. First, the inadequacies of the international ‘system’—the primacy of the idea of national interest; the curse of history regarding China and the United States; the legacy of colonialism; the false dawn of the Montreal and Kyoto Protocols. Second, the weaknesses of the contemporary democratic political systems: short-termism, the unbridled corporation lobbying power and the political character of the mainstream media. Third, the many forms of climate change denialism, not only the neo-liberal anti-climate science movement but also the patterns of denialism in everyday life. Fourth, the reasons for the failure of the Left to identify what is novel about the present situation or even to find an appropriate political strategy for this struggle. And finally, the truly unprecedented nature of the challenge: to engineer consciously a transformation from our ‘fossil fuel civilisation’, responsible for previously unimagined general levels of prosperity across the globe.

About: Robert, who was educated at the Universities of Melbourne and Oxford, was Professor of Politics at La Trobe University until last December. Presently he is Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at La Trobe and the convenor of its Ideas & Society Program. He has written or edited twenty books and very many essays on a wide variety of topics, including The Petrov Affair; The Culture of Forgetting; Left, Right, Left: Political Essays: 1977-2005; Making Trouble: Essays against the New Australian Complacency and three Quarterly Essays, “In Denial: The Stolen Generations and the Right”, “Sending them Home: Refugees and the New Politics of Indifference” and “Bad News: Murdoch’s Australian and the Shaping of the Nation”. Last year he wrote an extended essay on climate change denialism, “Dark Victory”, for The Monthly. His books and essays have won various awards including the Washington National Intelligence Centre Prize for The Petrov Affair and a Queensland Premier’s Prize for his Quarterly Essay, “In Denial”. . In 2005 he was voted Australia’s leading public intellectual in a vote conducted by the Sydney Morning Herald.


Kate Roffey

Melbourne’s Swanston Street Meerkat Colony Opened 

Abstract:  Breaking News – Thursday May 24th, 2018: Today Melbourne established itself as the world’s leading environmentally friendly city when it closed the CBD streets to traffic between the hours of 7am and 11pm, and opened Swanston Park – a pedestrian only green space. In a world leading move, residents and the business community of Melbourne voted in by an overwhelming majority, a proposal to make the CBD a traffic free, pedestrian and bicycle friendly zone. The centrepiece of the city is Swanston Park, a beautiful green space that features the John So pond which takes redirected storm water from Williams Creek that runs under Elizabeth Street, and recycles it for use on the native plants and terraced lawn areas of the Kylie Minogue gardens that attract thousands of lunch time office workers each day. The centrepiece of Swanston Park is the open air animal enclosures that people can meander in and around. By far the most popular place in Melbourne is the Dame Edna Everage Meerkat Colony. Sitting central in the Park, the Meerkats are constantly monitoring passers by and their surrounds, and always offer us a reminder to keep looking ahead. Kate Roffey, who first raised the idea of a Meerkat Colony in the city in 2012, said “This is a true example of what people can collectively do when they have a vision for the future. When I first talked about a Meerkat colony everyone laughed. Now our city centre is the most visited tourist destination in the world, and is the centre international businesses rate most highly as the destination of choice for their office locations.”

“This is our city – we live and work here – so why cant we determine our own vision for the future?……..”

About: Kate is the Chief Executive Officer of the Committee for Melbourne, a member-based organisation that strives to provoke debate and thought-leadership on the long-term sustainable development of greater Melbourne and Victoria. She has over 20-years experience within the commercial, government and not-for-profit sectors, providing high-level expertise in operational planning, organizational change and political strategy. She previously worked at Tennis Australia where, among other things, she helped develop the master plan for the Melbourne Park redevelopment. Prior to that, in her position as CEO of VicSport, she played a key role in advancing sport and recreation as part of making better places to live.

Deborah Bird Rose 

Anthropocene Noir 

Abstract: Bob Dylan said it perfectly: ‘it’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there’. I will explore some aspects of darkness emanating from the concept of the Anthropocene and from the facts of the biosphere changes now in process. The larger questions concern action in a time when all action seems contaminated. What commitments might guide us, in an era of increasingly inscrutable and unacceptable choices? How may we keep faith with life in this era of loss and degradation?

About: Deborah is Professor of Social Inclusion at Macquarie University and a Visiting Professorial Fellow at UNSW, Sydney, where her research focuses on multi-species inclusion/exclusion in this time of extinctions. She came to Australia to live with Aboriginal people in the hopes of learning about their relationships with country and other species. Instead of going home, she stayed here as an academic to work with people on land claims and other matters. Her research explores possibilities for multi-species communities, complicated by escalating violence. Her most recent book is Wild Dog Dreaming: Love and Extinction, University of Virginia Press. She is a prize-winning author and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia.


Jeanne W. Simon

Rethinking Globalization from Indigenous Perspectives 

Abstract: Since the first Europeans arrived in the Americas, indigenous peoples have sought to maintain their ways of life and culture despite the many attempts to transform or destroy them. For some, indigenous resistance is seen as the principal obstacle to progress, while others see indigenous culture as the innovative answer to the problems generated by globalization. Drawing principally on the experiences of indigenous peoples in Latin America, we analyse their responses to the arrival of Europeans, the creation of the Nation-State, capitalist production, “development” programs and environmental destruction. We argue that dominant ideas of development and progress have created and maintained structures of marginalization and cultural transformation, negatively impacting indigenous peoples. We conclude with a proposal of how indigenous ideas allow us to rethink our understanding of human life on the planet. Co-author: Claudio González-Parra (Universidad de Concepción, Chile) 

About: Jeanne is a Professor of Political Science and Director of the Masters Program in Politics and Government at the University of Concepción in Chile. Originally from the United States, she has lived in Chile for nearly 20 years. Her interdisciplinary research analyzes the logic of contemporary global and national development processes in order to identify development strategies for local and indigenous communities in a global economy. Most recently, her research analyzes the dynamics of intercultural relations between the post-neoliberal Chilean State and the Mapuche people.


Anita M. Weiss

Surviving in Pakistan’s Cities: A Complex Web of Challenges and Alternatives 

Abstract: While there are many formidable structural problems confronting urban Pakistan, it is the challenge of living in the shadow of the nearly daily bomb blasts and suicide attacks that poses the greatest challenge to Pakistan’s future. Pakistan’s cities at this time are in crisis, not only beset by infrastructural problems (lack of electricity, clean water, waste disposal, and aging buildings) and limited employment and economic growth options, but especially by the violence that is ripping the nation apart. Violence, while antagonized by infrastructural problems and limited jobs, emerges mostly from identity politics and promotes further tension and contestation among ethnic, social, religious, and economic communities. Indeed, the unrelenting violence in Pakistan often emerges from narrow views of community, a divisive cleavage that ostensibly pits the poor, the disempowered, those who cannot afford a government education and who know that receiving one won’t alleviate their poverty and disenfranchisement, with one another. We saw this manifest remarkably in the recent May 11, 2013 elections.After reviewing the complex web of challenges facing Pakistan’s cities today, we then turn to alternatives that bode well for positive social change in its cities, as it is here where people have made breaks from the past (especially from rural-based pasts), and the impact of growing numbers of educated women engaging with the economy, polity and society promises to be formidable for Pakistan’s future.

About: Anita received her doctorate in sociology from UC Berkeley and is now professor and head of the department of International Studies at the University of Oregon. She has published extensively on social development, gender issues and political Islam in Pakistan. Recent publications include Development Challenges confronting Pakistan (co-editor with Saba Gul Khattak, Kumarian Press, 2013), Pathways to Power: the Domestic Politics of South Asia (co-editor with Arjun Guneratne, Rowman & Littlefield 2013), “Crisis and Reconciliation in Swat through the Eyes of Women” (in Magnus Marsden & Ben Hopkins (eds.) Beyond Swat: History, Society and Economy along the Afghanistan-Pakistan Frontier. Her current research project, Interpreting Islam, Modernity and Women’s Rights in Pakistan, is analyzing how distinct constituencies in Pakistan, including the state, are grappling with articulating their views on Islam, modernity and women’s rights.