The Global Cities Research Institute ceased operation at the end of 2015, ending an era of successful collaboration under a more traditional discipline based research framework which has been replaced by Enabling Capability Platforms in eight focus areas.

The Global Cities Research Institute works in partnership with International Organizations, local NGOs, philanthropic organizations, local and national governments, and universities to make a significant different in the world on sustainability issues.

Researchers in the Institute have worked closely with a team at Accenture in Australia, France and India (led by Simon Vardy) to develop a sustainability simulation tool which was launched in Singapore in November 2010. The web-based software is framed by the United Nations City Programme method and allows city planners to project sustainability programs and to see the potential effects of those programs over time as different parameters are changed.

ARUP is a global construction and design company committed to sustainable development. The Global Cities Institute have been working with Arup London and Melbourne with the aim of forming a strategic research partnership on sustainability indicators, climate change adaptation, and on urban infrastructure.

B2B is Melbourne-based law firm operating in the areas of corporate and commercial Law, insolvency, commercial litigation, alternate dispute resolution, domestic and international taxation. David Lurie, one of the B2B partners, does significant pro bono work for the Global Cities Institute on important areas of reconciliation. B2B is the legal organization behind the Global Cities Institute and Centre of Ethics (Monash University) initiative Global Reconciliation and has provided financial support for some of its projects.

The Costa Family Foundation has been a significant and ongoing philanthropic supporter of the work of Global Cities in the area of reconciliation and human security. Through Rob Costa it was a major under-writer of the Reconciliation Summit in Amman, Jordan. Most recently, it has supported the ‘Playing Together’ project involving indigenous footballers in Sri Lanka.

Drapac is a property investment group committed to creating sustainable environments and investments. Through Michael Drapac, the company has provided significant financial support for reconciliation projects in the Middle East and Sri Lanka.

Microsoft Australia is providing the software tools to develop our ‘Circles of Sustainability’ project in conjunction with the UN Global Compact Cities Programme. Greg Stone of Microsoft is an advisor to our ARC-funded project ‘Accounting for Sustainability’.

SJB Urban is a specialist urban design practice with a focus on liveability and sustainability.  SJB Urban is working with the Urban Decision Making and Complex Systems program of the Global Cities Research Institute on a decision support system that will assist individuals to assess options as to where to live, based on a range of lifestyle issues, and taking a long-term holistic perspective. This project aims to provide individuals with information that will allow them to see the long-term benefits of choices that lead to sustainable self-sufficient, liveable neighbourhoods, and to better understand the financial, personal and social implications of their housing choices.

Urbis is a multi-disciplinary consulting firm offering a range of expertise in planning, urban design, property, social, economics and research. The firm works across all matters relating to the design, planning and management of land, property and construction, and environmental and social issues. Urbis also works throughout the Asia Pacific and the Middle East having established an office in Dubai. The Global Cities Institute is working with Urbis through Michael Barlow who is Chair of our Advisory Board.

Global and International Organizations
CityMart and Living Laboratories are sister organizations based in Copenhagen (Denmark) and Barcelona (Spain), working with more than 80 global cities and 1,000 companies and research centres in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas with a mission to provide a platform for service innovation in cities and overcome key technological and organizational barriers to collaboration.  In 2012, Citymart decided to use the Institute’s ‘Circles of Sustainability’ method as its basis for engagement.

Global Reconciliation grew out of the Global Reconciliation Network and collaboration between RMIT and Monash Universities going back to 2002. Global Reconciliation brings together members of community groups, social activists, academics and others around the world, working towards the broad goal of reconciliation. Here reconciliation is understood as the process of establishing dialogue and collaborative practice across the divides of difference—nationality, religion, race and culture. It is focuses upon grounded engagement with local communities. The patrons of Global Reconciliation include The Reverend Desmond Tutu, The Honourable Sir William Deane, Aung San Suu Kyi, President Jose Ramos-Horta, Professor Bernard Lown, Professor Amartya Sen, and Dr Lowitja O’Donaghue. As part of joint initiative with the Global Cities Institute, and in particular the Human Security Program, the Pathways to Reconciliation Summit held in December 2009 followed on from a series of previous events: Melbourne, London, New Delhi, Sarajevo and Amman. The Summit was organized as a response to the paradox that political violence and insecurity have been intensifying across the world despite the expansion of security regimes and other short-term solutions. More recently work has focused on Sri Lanka with a major reconciliation forum held in Colombo in 2012. The objective across all the projects is to explore alternative pathways to peace, pathways which emphasize informal reconciliation processes operating beneath the radar of conventional regimes.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a network-based organization based in Amsterdam that has pioneered the development of the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework and is committed to its continuous improvement and application worldwide. The Global Cities Institute has been invited to convene a panel to renew the GRI’s Public Agency reporting supplement.

Created in 1985, the Metropolis Association is represented by more than a hundred member cities from across the world and operates as an international forum for exploring issues and concerns common to all big cities. The main goal of the association is to better control the development process of metropolitan areas in order to enhance the wellbeing of their citizens. To do this, Metropolis represents regions and metropolitan areas at the world-wide level. The Global Cities Institute was represented on Metropolis’ Commission 2, Managing Urban Growth which reported in 2011. The Institute is currently involved in a Metropolis initiative in India on integrated strategic planning, and leads a Taskforce to develop a sustainability assessment approach for the organization.

Nautilus Institute@RMIT is the Australian base of the Nautilus Institute. It is led by Professor Peter Hayes. The mission of the Nautilus Institute is to “improve global problem solving by applying and refining the strategic tools of cooperative engagement to fundamental problems undermining global security and sustainability.”

Spire International is a not-for-profit organization that links donors to local initiatives in developing communities. Spire specializes in identifying smaller locally-based initiatives where there is a need for external assistance so that goals can be achieved. Spire focuses on the areas of education, health, income-generation and environment. The Global Cities Institute is a supporter and sponsor of some Spire International events, and is represented on the executive of Spire Australia.

The Global Cities Institute became the host of the United Nations Global Compact Cities Programme (UNGCCP) International Secretariat in 2007 with support from the City of Melbourne and the Committee for Melbourne. This means that RMIT hosts the only United Nations International Secretariat based in Australia and the Asia-Pacific. This relationship provides the Institute with a direct partnership with the United Nations through the Global Compact in New York and the Secretary General’s Department. The Cities Programme was initiated in 2003 by former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan. It is a discrete component of the Global Compact and provides a unique framework for cities to develop and implement sustainable and concrete solutions to economic, ecological, political and cultural challenges of a long-term and often intractable nature. The Cities Programme was developed in response to the need for an evolution of corporate social responsibility to enable a meaningful engagement of the private sector at a systemic level. However, it went much further. By utilizing a common methodology, the ‘Melbourne Model’ and ‘Circles of Sustainability’, it combines the ideas, knowledge, experience, and resources inherent within business, government, and civil society in a manner that directly benefits all participants.

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN Habitat, is the United Nations agency for human settlements. It is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. In 2008 UN Habitat invited RMIT University through the Global Cities Institute to become a Habitat Partner University. This was confirmed in 2009 with the visit of a delegation from UN Habitat to Melbourne, including Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka. The visit was marked by a major public launch of the partnership. The partnership directly engages research staff and students in the activities of the UN Human Settlement Program. It links the Global Cities Institute with a unique group of international universities, including Simon Fraser University in Canada which also hosts a UN-Habitat Urban Observatory. RMIT was the first university in Australia, and the first university in the Asia-Pacific to be so invited.

World Vision Australia is part of an international aid organization for children and youth, mostly in rural areas. In order to begin a reorientation of its operations globally towards urban engagement, World Vision has established a Centre of Expertise for Urban Programming. The Global Cities Institute is working with the Centre to develop an integrated approach to sustainable urban and community development. The approach is based on the ‘Circles of Sustainability’ method that is also used by the UN Global Compact Cities Programme. It will establish a process for initiating, monitoring and evaluating projects and for locally negotiating indicators of sustainability.

Public-Political Bodies and Grassroots Organizations

Established in 1963, Arena Publications publishes Arena Journal, an academic bi-annual, and Arena Magazine, Australia’s leading left magazine of cultural and political comment. Both publications frequently publish articles and commentary pieces on areas ranging across the work of the Institute, including globalization, Indigenous politics and culture, and the role of intellectuals and technology in the transformation of the current cultural and political landscape. Arena has a thriving centre in Fitzroy, Melbourne, which combines publication, public discussion and a commercial printery.

The Cultural Development Network is an independent non-profit organisation that links communities, artists, local government and organisations in order to promote cultural vitality. The Cultural Development Network advocates a stronger role for cultural expression to build a healthier, more engaged and sustainable society and is based in Melbourne, Australia. The Cultural Development Network has since 2012 been based in the Global Cities Institute building.

The aim of the Institute of Postcolonial Studies is to understand and undo the continuing legacies of colonialism today: dispossession, displacement, racism, and intercultural violence. In particular, this entails understanding political and economic pressures and cultural prejudices faced by indigenous peoples and impoverished communities, supporting those facing the consequences of political upheaval and violence, and generating dialogue across worlds of continuing and often positive cultural difference. RMIT’s Global Cities Institute is represented on the Postcolonial Institute’s Council, the Institute’s peak policy body. The IPS publishes Postcolonial Studies, an international journal, founded in 1997 by a group of scholars associated with the Institute of Postcolonial Studies, including Global Cities’ representation, and a book series with the University of Hawaii Press.

The Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research (VCCCAR) is an initiative which aims to promote multi-disciplinary research activity in the region, as well as fostering increased collaborative working between universities, other research organizations, and government, in order to better inform strategic planning and other decision-making processes. Four main Victorian universities are involved, with Darryn McEvoy from RMIT (through the Global Cities Institute) as Deputy Director for the Centre.


Simon Fraser University is located in Vancouver, Canada as is the home to a UN Habitat Urban Observatory led by Meg Holden. She is part of a SFU-RMIT team doing pilot studies in Vancouver and Melbourne to develop the ‘Circles of Sustainability’ approach as part of the United Nations Cities Programme.

UKM is the National University of Malaysia mandated with safeguarding ‘the sovereignty of the Malay language while globalizing knowledge in the context of local culture’. It is located in Bangi, south of Kuala Lumpur. In 2007 discussions began with the objective of developing collaborative research. This has been carried through in joint work with the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKAMS).

In 2006, the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, and the Globalism Research Centre signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the objective of developing collaborative research projects. This has been carried forward by members of the Community Sustainability Program of the Global Cities Institute through exchange research trips by academics both from RMIT to Sri Lanka and Colombo to Australia. Most recently, the Institute in collaboration with Global Reconciliation conducted the first national civil-society reconciliation forum in Sri Lanka since the end of the war. Professor Siri Hettige from the University of Colombo was a key participant.

In September 2003, the Globalism Research Centre and the Globalization Research Centre at the University of Hawai’i , USA, collaborated with a number of other institutes in establishing the Globalization Studies Network.  Over the 2000s Manfred Steger worked with its Director, Mike Douglass, to develop ongoing research collaboration around the theme of ‘Globalization and Culture’, one of the programs in the Global Cities Institute. More recently, Barry Judd and Tim Butcher, leaders of the ‘Global Indigeneity and Reconciliation’ program have been developing close research ties with the Department of Politics and their indigenous studies program.

Since 2006, the University of Madras, Chennai, India, and RMIT have seen a movement of research staff between the two institutions collaborating around the Community Sustainability Program.

The University of Salford is in the City of Salford, part of the Greater Manchester Region, in central England. High-level visits of staff from Salford and RMIT across 2008 to 2010 have been part of a strong and developing relationship between the two universities. The Sustainable Urban and Regional Futures centre (SURF) at Salford is mirrored by the program of the same name at RMIT.