The University of Melbourne and City of Melbourne have announced they will jointly establish a chair of resilient cities to “strengthen Melbourne’s resilience in the face of sustainability challenges, including global warming”.

Although the position is being jointly funded by the two bodies, the chair in resilient cities will be located within the university’s Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning and will work closely with the Melbourne Sustainable Society’s Institute to be a “key point of leadership” for initiatives that support resilience and adaptation across the city, university, and their partners and communities.

It is hoped that the role will “influence and stimulate public debate and policy [by] engaging with both local and international communities”.

Speaking to The Fifth Estate, MSSI director Professor Brendan Gleeson said the position will be advertised “imminently”, with the expectation it will be filled “by early 2016”.

“We will be conducting a full international search as a means of filling the position and the appointment will be managed in conjunction with the City of Melbourne,” he said.

“Although the role is being jointly funded by the city and the university, the appointment is solely for the University of Melbourne. However, a core part of the brief will be for the chair to work with council officers and representatives who are working on resilience matters, and more broadly, the wider constituency stakeholders who have an interest in resilience in Melbourne, Australia, as well as internationally.

“MSSI is strongly committed to building a collaborative and supportive network to achieve our high expectations. The new role will build capacity to develop and support open communication based upon trust and respect.”

The vice-chancellor of the University of Melbourne, Professor Glyn Davis, also commented on the announcement yesterday, saying: “The aspiration for a clean and green environment, and resilient society, informs the values of the university, and is in turn reflected in our work.

“We’re excited about the opportunities this collaboration with the City of Melbourne will bring in promoting our shared goals for sustainability, and further enhancing Melbourne’s role as a national leader in knowledge-based urban resilience.”

The creation of the role was also welcomed by Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, who said: “As a knowledge city, the City of Melbourne is delighted to partner with the University of Melbourne in a joint chair, a chair of resilience and of cities in general.

“This is a first for the City of Melbourne and the University of Melbourne but one that we feel will add great firepower to the study of not just what makes us such a liveable city but also such a resilient city and, more importantly, how that can be sustained in the future.”

Melbourne has been increasingly focused on improving its resilience in recent years, and in December 2014 appointed Toby Kent, ANZ’s former head of sustainable development, as Australia’s first chief resilience officer. This position was created as part of Melbourne’s work with the Rockerfeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Network, which is tasked with preparing cities for environmental, economic and social shocks.

Join the Conversation


Your email address will not be published.

  1. John Roberts, I share your indignation.
    But it is too late and in fact resilience is the only thing we’ve got. Global warming is irreversible, is progressing faster than expected and now apparently even an abrupt climate shift is discussed among scientist as a possibility as soon as 2020 or 2030. Time to retire the original ‘s’ word – Sustainability – and replace it with another ‘s’ word – Survival.
    Looking back 20 or 30 years, and how we wasted decades, it turns out Sustainability was highjacked by the status-quo business and government circles and turned into a wishy-washy type of environmental action, instead of real, radical action. And here we are, facing the calamity. So what else can we do but prepare for the hit?
    Perhaps the radical changes you suggest are part of a Radical Resilience agenda?
    There is an opportunity for the person who sits on that Chair in 2016 to do something of consequence and put Melbourne (University) on the map of this wretched world…

  2. Thanks for this.
    I have to protest against this buzzword ‘resilience’. Hot air.

    Nobody wanted to work towards preventing climate change or environmental catastrophe, preferring business-as-usual: more cars, more consumption, more population, more debt, bigger houses, more air-con, more rubbish from China, constant unlimited growth, urban sprawl, imported or long-haul foods, FTA’s, AND, worst of all imaginable things, species and habitat loss – the whole disaster.

    So now everybody working in built environment at universities and in planning is talking ‘resilience’. You know who is ‘resilient’? Aboriginal society, Costa Rica, poor people everywhere, the farmers holding out against CSG, bike riders, vege planters, people who try not to buy into suburban developer debt hell.

    Business-as-usual FAILED at ‘sustainable’, loathed ENVIRONMENT, but now we are all to be RESILIENT in the face of catastrophe. An endless source of papers, conferences, blah blah about resilience. What an utter waste it will all be. Will anybody become ‘resilient’?

    Why not move radically and fast to get rid of cars and aircon, reduce energy use, design small, fine, energy-reducing houses and cleverer green suburbs, and less waste altogether. Etc. Work less, walk more.

    Phooey to ‘resilience’.