Trends & Challenges
The world is experiencing a major transition. Its population is continuing to grow rapidly and the majority of these additional people are living in cities. The rise of a middle class in China, India, Russia and other strong economies is driving demand for goods and services enjoyed for many years by developed countries. This greater demand is placing pressure on costs for food, energy, resources, skills and education.
While Melbourne is enjoying a sustained period of strong economic growth and general development, there are significant challenges for today and the future.
Consultation and research the City of Melbourne conducted revealed emerging trends which will impact on the future of the city. These include:
Another point that should be in consideration and researched is the Consumer Society
. Deconstructing and laying bare the truths and mechanisms behind consumer society and the individual's behaviour as part of this. It has been a misnoma to confuse Capitalism with (or as) Democracy. The desire to reach a Post-Consumer Society
is one that will perhaps aid and facilitate the adaptation and mitigation of Climate Change. (see Eco-City Point Four (4).)
This section summarises the implications and opportunities of these trends across the city.
Mitigating chronic diseases
The World Health Report released by the World Health Organisation indicates that the global burden of chronic disease is increasing rapidly, and predicts by the year 2020 chronic disease will account for 73% of all deaths. Chronic disease is estimated to be responsible for around 80% of the total burden of disease, mental problems and injury, as measured in terms of disability adjusted life years.1
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare defines chronic disease:
- Have complex and multiple causes
- Usually have a gradual onset, although they can have sudden onset and acute stages
- Occur across the life cycle, although they become more prevalent with older age
- Can compromise quality of life through physical limitations and disability
- Are long term and persistent, leading to gradual deterioration of health
- While usually not immediately life threatening, they are the most common and leading cause of mortality.
Obesity is a risk factor and major contributor to cardiovascular disease (CVD), Type 2 diabetes and a variety of cancers. As such, it represents one of our most important targets for disease prevention.2
. The proportion of persons categorised as overweight or obese in 2006 is 48.5 per cent.3
Fruit and vegetable consumption has decreased since 2001 with 47.0 per cent meeting the recommended daily intake levels of fruit (down from a high of 56.4 per cent) and less than one in ten adults (9.9 per cent) meeting the recommended daily intake for vegetables down from a high of 12.2 per cent.4
Obesity, along with tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption, was recently named a National Health Priority with a specific taskforce designated to refocus the health system on around prevention.
Chronic disease has far reaching effects not only impacting on affected individuals, their families, friends and carers in terms of pain and suffering but on the whole Australian community in terms of productivity losses and high health care costs. 5
Melbourne must respond effectively to this significant health challenge and strive to reduce the impact of chronic disease on health and wellbeing. City of Melbourne is well placed to support and encourage healthy behaviours that can prevent or delay the onset of many chronic diseases such as increasing physical activity, healthy and nutritious foods and decreasing tobacco use.
Mitigating and adapting to climate change
Climate change is a critical challenge facing Melbourne. Its impacts will range from increasing food prices, sea level rises, more intense natural flooding and variable weather, heat waves, species extinction and the spread of emerging disease. 6
To address these issues we recognise that environmental sustainability is a priority. We must reduce our environmental impact to retain our liveability and respond to the pressures of climate change. We are living beyond our environmental means. New actions and approaches are required to boost our energy efficiency, and reduce our resource consumption and the amount of waste we generate. The link between environmental health and public health is critical and we must focus more on issues such as increasing opportunities for physical activity and improved mobility.
Mitigating environmental pressures and reducing our ecological footprint is important, but it is increasingly urgent to address how to adapt to the projected impacts of climate change.
According to two global studies of liveability, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and Mercer Index, Melbourne's high standard of living relative to other cities is threatened.
The EIU ranked Melbourne, along with Vancouver, as the best city to live for three consecutive years (2002, 2003 and 2004). The 2007 surveys ranked Melbourne second behind Vancouver. This is consistent with the results of the last three years, where Melbourne continued to score below Vancouver in the 'Culture and Environment' category. Based on the Mercer Index, Melbourne's position changed only marginally over the last five years. It was ranked 15th in 2003, 12th in 2004 and 14th in 2005. In 2006, Melbourne's ranking slipped to 17th and in 2007 remained 17th. As outlined in the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors (CCCLM)
report (2007), liveability has a positive correlation with innovation - the number of patents registered in each city can be used as a measure of innovation (table 1). 7
|Zurich||1||10 || |
|Stockholm||20 ||1 || |
Table 1. Mercer City Liveability and Innovation 8
Climate, public transport, congestion, air quality, crime and school systems significantly influence the evaluation of a city's quality of life in the Mercer studies. Some commentators, such as Monash University, have specifically attributed our falling liveability to increased congestion, an over-burdened public transport system and the diminishing affordability of housing. A key attribute of highly-ranked cities, such as Zurich and Vancouver, has been an excellent public transport system.
The reduction of international trading barriers has ignited a wave of global business activity, which has mobilised goods, services, capital and labour. At the same time, technological and scientific innovation has redefined the methods and speed of business transactions.
Melbourne is a significant international import and export hub and engaging the strengthening competitive economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China offers many opportunities. However, these countries also pose threats to our ongoing economic prosperity and environmental sustainability, because of their cheaper production costs and lower environmental standards.
We need to ensure Melbourne retains its investment and business strengths by developing international partnerships, attracting significant infrastructure investment, and through business development and investment support programs. Skills shortages in some industries are already evident and we need to ensure we have a relevant and skilled workforce in future.
The affordability and availability of commercial premises, residential and visitor accommodation is a present and future issue.
Office vacancy rates are low at present and we need to increase the availability of commercial space to encourage and ensure future economic growth. This commercial space must, however, be treated in the broadest sense, ranging from large corporate offices to small businesses, galleries, studios, music venues and other ventures.
The city's recent and projected population growth is a major challenge. By 2020, it is expected another 40,000 people will live in the city. The rising costs of inner city accommodation and its reduced availability creates the risk that residents and workers earning lower incomes will move further out, deserting the city for employment or commuting. We also need to ensure appropriate and sufficient accommodation is available for national and international visitors.
Diminishing housing affordability coupled with increased living costs indicate that without significant investment in public and social housing and crisis accommodation, the number of homeless people in the city will grow.
Communications infrastructure is now integrated into the financial, marketing, information and communication strategies of every major corporation, education and political institution, community and government agency. Providing infrastructure is a key constraint on the greater adoption of this technology.
For the City of Melbourne and its residents to communicate and compete globally in a world dominated by rapid information flows, infrastructure connecting the city to the commercial telecommunications network must have capacity to meet future demands.
Some of Melbourne's infrastructure is operating at capacity now. The road and public transport network is already experiencing significant pressure and will increase in future years. Fuel and vehicle costs, as well as congestion, have encouraged many to use alternative forms of transport to reach the city, such as walking, cycling and public transport.
The City of Melbourne is developing new walkways, dedicated bicycle paths, connections and commercial spaces that add a new dimension to public space and which seek to reduce conflicts between street users, but we also need to further ensure all transport infrastructure is accessible, safe and inter-connected. Our infrastructure must respond to changing patterns of use and minimise congestion and air quality impacts.
Principal Bicycle Network - Inner Melbourne Region
The Principal Bicycle Network (PBN) was envisaged to be a network largely made up of white lines on main roads marking bicycle lanes and wide kerbside lanes. These mostly low-cost facilities which can be installed without much impact on other road users have helped stimulate bicycle use to the current level. These types of facilities will continue to be widely used by cyclists. However, in order to achieve the cycling goals of IMAP and those of its member Councils, a separated, on-road bicycle network similar to that of leading European cities is required. The IMAP Bicycle Network is the 'first cut' at describing this network and selecting the routes that will be on it. Much work remains in developing the designs that will build it and gaining the support to make it happen.
IMAP has identified a new priority bike route network for the inner region. This map is a result of the IMAP collaboration.
Walking Framework Map- Inner Melbourne
Social diversity and cohesion
Diversity and cohesion are mutually compatible and important themes in our city. We must ensure Melbourne retains its active cross-cultural engagement and remains open and positively embraces different cultural traditions. This means we must continue to debate, negotiate and build a shared set of meanings about social and cultural values that support tolerance, harmony and a celebration of Melbourne, whilst ensuring diversity and unique cultural identities flourish. Creative organisations and individuals from different cultural backgrounds that have been vital to enriching our city need to be supported, even as new cultural groups find expression.
Technology, coupled with knowledge and innovation, can alter traditional concepts of the urban community. Cities that are fast adopters of new technologies excel in attracting creative individuals and younger educated people, which in turn stimulates business, product innovation and exporting services. New technologies offer opportunities to tackle future issues in new ways.
Depleting oil fields and low discovery rates will inevitably raise oil prices. The much higher future oil prices predicted by the emerging Peak Oil
consensus will increase the cost of goods in the City of Melbourne: we are one of the most car and energy-dependent cities in the world and are likely to face additional economic and social problems 11
during the transition from the cheap oil era. 12
In an effort to reduce the impact of oil prices, the city must adopt renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and tidal. There is also a compelling case for helping enhance the capacity of individuals to adjust to change 13
(City Research, 2007).
Time (24 Hour)
Melbourne's reputation and appeal as a destination presents a multitude of issues. As more people fill the city streets daily over the 24 hours period, we need to find ways to build and manage the city to resolve potential conflicts between different users of the city - visitors, workers and residents.
By 2017, more than one million people are predicted to visit the City of Melbourne on an average weekday. While this will provide great advantages in terms of revenue and skilled workers, this growth needs to be planned for and accommodated to protect the city's existing attributes and create a more vibrant, safer and sustainable 24-hour city.
: National Chronic Disease Strategy
: Australia's Future - ‘Fat Bomb' - A report on the long-term consequences of Australia's expanding waistline on cardiovascular disease June 2008
: Victorian Population Health Survey 2006 - Department of Human Services
: United Nations Environment Programme
: CCCLM (2007) Australian Capital Cities Partnerships in Prosperity National Policy Statements
: Mercer (2007) Highlights from the Quality of Living Survey
: Bicycle Victoria (2008), Bicycle Victoria's Review of the Priority Bike Route Network for IMAP
, January 2008, p.19. Adopted by IMAP February 2008
: Inner Melbourne Action Plan (2005), Making Melbourne More Liveable.
December 2005, p. 49
: When Will The Oil Run Out? George Monbiot Interviews Fatih Birol Chief Economist of the International Energy Agency. The Guardian 15 December 2008
: City Research (2007) Oil Prices Issues Paper
: Peter Newman: The Crash, Peak Oil and Resilient Cities December 9th, 2008 by Peter Newman