Session: Melbourne – Ensuring a Liveable City Under a Changing Climate

Climate Change Adaptation Stream


Day 1, Parallel Session 1A: 11:00am – 12:30pm

Location: Storey Hall (Building 16) – Conference Room 1, Level 7, Room 7

Chair: Professor Darryn McEvoy (RMIT University)


Ian Shears Transitioning from Vulnerability to Resistance: Transforming Melbourne’s Landscape

  • Presenter and main author: Ian Shears (City of Melbourne)
  • Abstract: Melbourne’s environment is facing three primary challenges: population growth and intensification, urban heating and climate change. The cumulative impact of these is creating less healthy urban environments; the flow-on effects include the social cost of heat-related illness and morbidity, damage to vital infrastructure, and diminishing quality of city life and liveability. How do we respond to these challenges whilst increasing the resilience of our public realm and creating a legacy for future generations? A holistic adaptation approach that acknowledges the critical nature and multi-functionality of green infrastructure interventions is clearly required. It’s time for green infrastructure to transcend its niche function in public policy as an aesthetic amenity. This presentation will outline how City of Melbourne is embracing a multidisciplinary approach to responding to these challenges. It will detail a response that seeks to transform Melbourne’s urban landscape with ambitious city targets for urban forest development, integrated water management, green infrastructure development, open space and permeability expansion and urban landscape cooling strategies. This presentation will also illustrate how the use of key technical data, spatial mapping, GIS analysis, microclimatic modelling and innovative research has informed a suite of initiatives to realise a robust and resilient city.
  • About the presenter: Ian Shears has worked for over a decade with the City of Melbourne and leads the City’s climate change adaptation program for urban landscapes. Over the past three years, Ian and his award winning, multi-disciplinary team have delivered a $30 million climate adaptation program focussed on strategic green infrastructure interventions in the public realm. This work includes increasing the city’s permeability and urban forest to enhance cooling and mitigate urban heat island impacts, increasing green space and developing a set of stormwater harvesting schemes to reduce reliance on potable water. Engendering community participation is a core focus of Ian’s work. The community’s role in collaborating to adapt the city to climate change and to develop a legacy for future generations of Melbournians is critical. Ian and his team have also been credited with the development of some of Australia’s most progressive environmental policies at a city level. His current policy research focuses on understanding the health and economic benefits of green infrastructure, biodiversity and ecology in cities, integrated water management, urban heat island mitigation, the impacts of climate change and catalysing green roofs and walls.
Alexei Trundle Barriers and Opportunities Influencing the Implementation of Greenspace

  • Presenter and main author: Alexei Trundle (RMIT University)
  • Co-presenter and co-author: Dr Karyn Bosomworth (RMIT University)
  • Abstract: The multi-functional role of Green Infrastructure – living plant matter within the urban environment – is increasingly recognised as being an important contributor to urban liveability. One particular benefit is the reduction of urban heat; heatwaves having contributed to the deaths of more Australians than any other natural disaster or extreme weather event over the last three decades. The combined impacts of global warming, enhancing local Urban Heat Island effects and ageing populations are resulting in a steadily increasing level of vulnerability to an already serious climate-based risk, threatening the liveability of Australia’s ageing, expanding and consolidating cities. In Melbourne the uptake of urban Green Infrastructure policies, programs and projects has lagged behind that of North America, the UK and Europe. This presentation will reflect on findings from a recently-completed study (conducted in partnership between RMIT University, University of Melbourne and Monash University), which examined Green Infrastructure implementation across the Melbourne metropolitan area. Specifically, the roles of legislation, institutional arrangements and the views and capacities of stakeholders will be reflected upon, with a focus on identified opportunities for targeting and enhancing Green Infrastructure-based heat reduction across Melbourne.
  • Co-author: Dr Karyn Bosomworth (RMIT University)
  • About Alexei: Alexei Trundle is a researcher with the Climate Change Adaptation Program at RMIT University. His current research focuses on applications of green infrastructure for urban heat reduction, adapting seaports to climate change impacts, and climate change adaptation for cities in developing countries across the Asia-Pacific region. Previously Alexei worked at the Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment in Canberra; a role which included development of the climate change, urban quality and transport themes for the 2011 ACT State of the Environment Report.
Julie Francis Re-imagining Our Cities – As Carbon Sinks

  • Presenter and main author: Julie Francis (Moffits Farm)
  • Abstract: Through increasing the amount of vegetation in the landscape and managing it to improve carbon stores in the ecosystem, cities have a great opportunity to capture significant amounts of carbon dioxide . Green urbanism has focussed on reducing carbon emissions, but cities need to also learn how to sequester carbon.Professionals in the urban sphere can learn from those in agriculture.  Just as some holistic graziers have transformed their properties to be net C sinks, city planners could convert our grassland parks that currently store about 0.5 tonne of C per hectare in above ground biomass into significant sinks storing up to 2 tonnes of C per hectare. Street trees, private gardens, zoos and urban agricultural enterprises all have a part to play in re imagining the city as a sink. Managing a city’s landscape to act as a sink will require new ways of vegetation management, along with community acceptance of a different type of landscape and leadership that makes decisions in reference to ecological needs. This presentation outlines important findings from agricultural research into carbon flows and suggests the steps that cities can take to establish landscapes that are net C sinks.
  • About the presenter: Julie Francis is an environmental scientist with a special interest in sustainability.  For over ten years, she has worked in Victorian state and local government in policy and project roles that vary from sustainable agriculture and transport to green infrastructure. Julie has a Masters degree in Agriculture and is actively involved in the management of Moffitts Farm, a beef, sheep and farm forestry enterprise north of Melbourne. The property is a net carbon sink and regularly hosts visitors from local Landcare groups to international agricultural scientists. Julie’s wide variety of experiences ensures she brings a unique perspective to urban greening.
Vikas Ahuja The Contribution of RMIT’s Sustainability Action to Melbourne’s Liveability

  • Presenter and main author: Vikas Ahuja (RMIT University)
  • Abstract: What does an urban university contribute to the sustainability of a city? Does a university have a place in a CBD? RMIT operates sixty buildings within the City of Melbourne with a population equivalent to the fifth largest town in Victoria. Can a place of learning transform itself through knowledge and in turn can its transformation be the subject for knowledge? RMIT is embarking on the most significant upgrade to our infrastructure in our history. This $128 million project, focussing on a precinct based approach to heating, ventilation, air conditioning, co-generation and tri-generation aims to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50%, and our water use by more than 35%. This work will also make the performance of our buildings and the approaches to improving their operation the subject of curricular, research and engagement projects. Other recently completed projects in climate change risk assessment and landscape architecture, and future projects in building science, integrated water management and increased permeability, seek to leverage our built environment to embed sustainability in learning and teaching, and research. These projects are discussed in parallel with the need for measurable progress towards sustainability.
  • About the presenter: Vikas’ experience spans corporate strategy, climate change & energy policy, implementing sustainability initiatives, marketing, financial modelling for renewable energy projects, carbon accounting and energy technology development. He was co-leader of the Power Generation Systems division at Ceramic Fuel Cells. He has participated in various Victorian Government committees on climate change, wind energy, clean energy technology and biofuels. Vikas was responsible for the policy analysis behind the Victorian Renewable Energy Target. He says, when he wrote his first report on climate change in 1989 titled “Greenhouse effect – fact or flatulence,” he never guessed he would spend the next 24 years ruminating on it.