IURC Asia & Australasia Partner Country: Australia
Australia’s population is now over 25 million and the federal governance system comprises six states and two special territories. By 2029, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) expects that Australia’s population will grow to 29.5 million. It is one of the most urbanised countries in the world and the proportion of people concentrated particularly in capital cities is large (over two-thirds). 64% of Australians live in major cities with populations over 1 million. By 2029, Sydney’s population is projected to reach 6.4 million and Melbourne is projected to be Australia’s fastest growing city, increasing its population from 5.1 million to 6.3 million by then.
Concentrated population growth has delivered economic benefits particularly to capital cities, attracting jobs and helping communities to deliver innovation and productivity, especially to those cities based on a service-economy like Melbourne and Sydney, a similar situation to several European metropolis like Paris and Berlin. This being said, other non-capital cities like Newcastle (NSW) and Townsville (Queensland) are still more dependent on heavy industry or raw materials processing and face similar industrial transition challenges like the European cities of Katowice, Essen or Metz. These cities need to diversify the economy and create new added-value activities, a challenge which is even more challenging in times of the COVID crisis.
The main responsibilities for urban planning and development lie with states and municipalities. Back in 2011, a first national urban policy framework was developed. However, it was just 2015 as the first Minister for Cities in Australian was appointed and since then several federal programmes have been launched including the Smart Cities Plan, the City Deals, the Smart Cities and Suburbs Programme, the Regional Deals and the National Cities Performance Framework.
Previous EU-Australia City Cooperation
Australia participated in the 2nd phase of the EU World Cities programme implemented 2017-2018. Four pairings between EU and Australian cities were made, namely Adelaide – Manchester (UK), Canberra – Prague (Czech Republic), Hobart – Katowice (Poland) and Melbourne – Hamburg (Germany). Three bilateral missions took place, including a first visit of European cities to Australian pairs (March 2017), a follow-up visit of Australian cities’ representatives to Europe (October 2017) and a final visit of European cities to their Australian pairs (March 2018). City managers from Australian and EU cities jointly developed toolkits to mainstream the international urban sustainable development framework (EU and UN Urban Agenda) into concrete projects for the cities. Actions were designed to increase so-called ‘triple-helix cooperation’ between governments, research and business, creating concrete opportunities for business while pursuing the sustainable development of the cities involved.