ECOCITY Melbourne, in Australia, 12-14 July 2017

Libby Giles, July 2017

ECOCITY 2017 was held at the Melbourne Convention Centre, hosted by the University of Melbourne, Western Sydney University, and the City of Melbourne. The summit has been held every two years since 1990.

The gathering addressed the challenges and opportunities facing the world’s cities and the advantages of cities to move forward, alongside NGOs and business innovation to serve the global interest. The focus was on six major themes:

  • Climate and energy transformations

  • Food and water security

  • Smart cities for people

  • Healthy and caring cities

  • Culturally vibrant cities

  • Governance, infrastructure 
and finance

Three core areas of questioning were posed in relation to each of the themes:

  • Understanding: What are the key sustainability and resilience risks and opportunities facing cities? What are the key sources and drivers of these risks and opportunities?

  • Imagining: How can we imagine and communicate sustainable and resilient city futures and pathways?

  • Creating: What actions are required to drive the rapid and just transitions required to create resilient and sustainable cities?

The summit featured a range of plenary and workshop sessions with a good variety of speakers representing, cities, regions, civil society, and business. I was honoured to represent The Alliance for Responsible and Sustainable Societies and give a presentation on Global Citizenship Education and Responsibility. This enabled me to make contact with people and groups with aligned goals. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to meet with delegates from Climate Chance featured prominently in plenary and workshops. We discussed the possibility of some kind of Climate Chance event, either standalone or attached to something else, as with ECOCITY2017.

As the world’s “most liveable city”, Melbourne was a fine host for the event. It’s convention centre on the Yarra River provided the space for exhibits of innovative developments in clean energy and transport including Tesla and BMW. Workshops were representative of six themes and focus questions. The geographical spread, cultural diversity, expertise and range of disciplines was balanced and bodes well for further development and continuity. More focus on education at the school and practical levels would undoubtedly add value to such forums and to achieving goals.

A subsequent meeting took place at Fondation Progrès d’Hommes (FPH) in Paris on Friday 11 August, with Climate Chance representative, Romain Crouzet, FPH Honorary President, Pierre Calame, and Libby Giles. The wider groups of partners of the Alliance for Responsible and Sustainable Societies will consider the possibilities for holding an event for cities and non-state actors in the Pacific, with a regional focus on climate change as a global issue. Further decisions are likely to be made following feedback from alliance representatives at this year’s Climate Chance in Agadir, Morocco.

Al Gore presents his film.

The principal speaker at ECOCITY 2017 was the Hon. Al Gore, who was is Melbourne promoting his latest film, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (2017).

Gore gave an in depth presentation on the current state of political inactivity along with the dire occurrences and forecasts of dangerous, weather and otherwise that we are facing. He showed clips from the film that included rain bombs, exploding glaciers and methane blisters. While there was a lot of gloom in the situation, it was rounded off with a great sense of hope and evidence that we are far further ahead in the advancement of renewable energy that was predicted 20 years ago.

Messages were clear from a number of speakers that the way forward is through cities, civil society and business. The alliance is well placed to contribute across these areas and to add value with its collective expertise and by strengthening the education component.


ECOCITY2017 Declaration of Principles: