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Sustainable cities: a solution for success?

News story

Three leading sustainability academics spoke on sustainable cities at Curtin University of Technology recently as part of The Australian Innovation Festival.

Topics discussed at the public lecture included the new green economy in the context of the global financial crisis, balancing household energy demands and the challenges of waste management and rising energy prices.

In his presentation, Curtin Sustainability Policy Institute Director, Professor Peter Newman said governments needed to use the crash to create green cities.

‘At each point in the history of industrialism, where there has been a whole range of new innovation that’s come out, there has been a major crash,’ he said.

‘The green economy can emerge, we can create sustainable cities and the crash is the opportunity for us to make that real.’

In keeping with the idea of making the best of a bad economic situation, director of Curtin’s Research Centre for Stronger Communities, Professor Daniela Stehlik said recessions offered a great opportunity where the kind of research and design that Curtin did was very important.

However, Professor Stehlik said West Australians were the least aware of green power.

She stressed the importance of information dissemination and educational opportunities when considering behavioural change strategies to improve West Australian’s power usage habits.

WA’s poor performance in the power stakes was reiterated by Curtin’s Centre of Excellence in Cleaner Production Director, Dr Michele John.

‘Energy consumption is the largest contribution we make as Australians to greenhouse gasses’, Dr John said.

‘WA’s energy prices are currently the lowest in Australia and have been for a very long time.’

‘Energy and waste management together, where waste management actually provides an energy source…is a very popular activity currently in Europe and it’s something that one day we hope will get onto the WA agenda.’

Attended by 70, the panel discussion was the first of several events planned by Curtin as part of the festival.

Themed “Solutions for success”, The Australian Innovation Festival is celebrating its eighth anniversary, established in 2002 to support and promote the best of Australian innovation and entrepreneurship.

The largest of its type in Australia, the festival runs from 24 April – 30 May 2009.

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