Media release: Local and international cities announced as SDGs Cities Challenge begins

Media release from the Connected Cities Lab website.


14 May 2020


Ten cities across Oceania and the Asia-Pacific region have come together to undertake the SDGs Cities Challenge run by Connected Cities Lab and the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne with partners the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia (BCSDA) and Banksia Foundation.


The ten-month program asks participating cities from the Oceania and Asia Pacific region to virtually collaborate with diverse city partners, as they align their nominated development challenge with relevant urban Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as outlined by the United Nations. Over the course of the UN’s Decade of Action on the SDGs (2020-2030), the proposed annual SDGs Cities Challenge aims to encourage more cities and their partners in business and academia to take up the challenge of addressing the global goals, by contributing at the local level.


The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) is a plan of action for people, the planet and prosperity. There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets to be met by 2030 which aim to place the world on a more sustainable economic, social and environmental path in order to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.


As a centre of excellence designed to address the challenges that city leadership faces in an interconnected and increasingly urbanised planet, the Connected Cities Lab is exceptionally positioned to lead this program, in linking cities with their urban partners in academia, business and community in a structured process of research and co-design.


Professor of Global Urban Politics and Director of Connected Cities Lab, Professor Michele Acuto says “cities are looking for ways to leverage recovery from the front-line of COVID-19 and become even more sustainable and resilient. Through tailored, international and iterative process of co-design, the Challenge offers a terrific opportunity for participating cities to leverage urban SDGs targets and indicators as a framework to move from the crisis towards a truly transformative change”.


Cities involved in the 2020 SDGs Cities Challenge:


  • City of Melbourne (VIC)

  • City of Warrnambool (VIC)

  • City of Whitehorse (VIC)

  • City of Woollahra (NSW)

  • Davao City (Philippines)

  • Alor Gajah Municipal Council (Malaysia)

  • City of Dehradun (India)

  • Port Vila (Vanuatu)

  • City of Honiara (Solomon Islands)

  • University of Melbourne Student Precinct (VIC).


Participant cities will gain new collaborative partnerships and develop networks with international SDG experts, bridge the gap between the scope of individual implementation plans and the innovation process co-created by participating cities and generate international visibility and establish links with cities that share similar SDG challenges.


Solutions to nominated city challenges will be created through a collaborative process of co-design between business, academic and government solution providers, offering each city the opportunity to produce an implementation plan aligned to the SDGs.


Their efforts will be showcased at the ‘Sustainable Development Goals, Climate Change and Cities Symposium’ three-day virtual symposia hosted by the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning and the Connected Cities Lab, taking place from 30 September – 2 October 2020. Participant cities will have the opportunity to share their experiences, urban challenges and their progress in mapping work against the SDGs, with expert support from a diverse group of urban stakeholders. A principle focus for the symposia in 2020 will be SDG11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, with outputs expected to raise understanding of the SDGs (particularly at the local level), increase awareness of the links between SDGs, climate change and the built environment, develop partnerships between industry, business, government and NGOs and recognize the expertise of the University and Faculty in areas relevant to sustainable urban development.


In a unique collaboration, joining in this work is the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia, Australia (BCSD Australia), the only business-led organisation working towards the transition to a sustainable Australia.


“The role of the private sector is critical to achieving this transition in Australia’s cities. We welcome the opportunity to engage alongside the Connected Cities Lab and build a common vision, co-create innovative solutions and contribute meaningful impact towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals at the national level,” said Andrew Petersen, CEO, BCSD Australia.


Dedicated to working with Government, industry and community to focus attention on the recognition of excellence in sustainability, “the Banksia Foundation is excited to be part of the SDGs Cities Challenge. Our partnership with the Connected Cities Lab in is a prime example of what can be achieved under SDG17 (Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development). Our aim is to create an interactive platform that provides attention, recognition and clear outcomes on the progress made in advancing the localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals,” Graz van Egmond, CEO, Banksia Foundation.


Keep up with the Challenge at the SDGs Cities Challenge project page or get in touch to find out how your city can be involved.

© 2020 by the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia

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