Dyan Currie: Guangzhou Award Conveys Excellent Innovative Governance Experience to the World

2023-10-11 14:26:16

"It's a wonderful idea to bring together innovative cases from all over the world and share them with everyone else." said Dyan Currie, Chief Planner of Brisbane Council, "The Guangzhou City brings us together to exchange information and discuss with each other how to learn from such outstanding cases of these cities."

The Release of the 6th Guangzhou Award Shortlisted Cities was held recently in Guangzhou, with the announcement of the 15 shortlisted cities. Dyan Currie, Chief Planner of Brisbane Council, Executive General Manager of the host city of the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and member of the Technical Committee of the 6th Guangzhou Award, attended the conference and received an interview from reporters of Southern Finance Omnimedia Corp. (SFC).

Take Sustainable Development Goals as the Urban Blueprint

SFC: As the global urbanization process continues to accelerate, what are the common challenges faced by the world's major cities either from the aspect of human society or the natural environment?

Dyan: I think several challenges are faced by all cities. First, for many cities, the accelerated pace of urbanization also brings challenges. For instance, in Guangzhou, with such rapid growth, how to keep building houses and parks and providing jobs to meet people's needs also remains a challenge.

From a global perspective, I think the changes witnessed by the world are also bringing new challenges. The economic changes and other changes in the post-pandemic era, will all bring consequent challenges with them. Take mental health as an example --- how to ensure that everyone in society is taken care of?

We also need to pay attention to the challenges in the natural environment. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have re-recognized the importance of outdoor green space. In my hometown Brisbane, people love to stay in open spaces during the pandemic. For this reason, Brisbane has set a goal for the green open space to reach 40% of the city. Suffice it to say, that ensuring enough outdoor space for citizens to heal themselves is a crucial part of urban development.

SFC: In your opinion, what factors are significant for a city to maintain sustainable development?

Dyan: I think the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) issued by the United Nations should be taken as a reference. These 17 goals serve as a blueprint to make sure we take into consideration all the components of sustainable development, from caring for every member of the community to aspects like water resources and the economy, from ensuring accessibility to jobs and education for the people, to environmental protectionTherefore, we take these 17 goals as an indicator to evaluate the innovative cases of the cities.

SFC:  In recent years, China has proposed the concept of  “carbon neutrality”. To achieve carbon neutrality or to build a low-carbon city as you put forward, what kind of measures should we take?

Dyan: Take the Brisbane City Council, where I work, for example. We have been independently certified as carbon neutral. To that end, we first took various measures to minimize carbon emissions. Then, we implemented carbon offsets when there were carbon emissions. Finally, we would work with the community and individuals to see what they can help to achieve carbon neutrality. Specifically, we have a subsidiary within the framework of the Council called the Brisbane Sustainable Development Agency. They work with businesses and property owners to find out how to reduce their emissions and what we can do as a local government for the city.


"Guangzhou Award is a platform for information sharing "

SFC: What role do you consider the Guangzhou Award has been playing in improving the construction of green cities on a global scale?

Dyan: I think Guangzhou Award serves as a rather valuable platform. It brings together innovative cases from all over the world to share with everyone else, which is a wonderful idea. Guangzhou Award is not just about recognizing outstanding cases. It's also about bringing people together to exchange information and discuss with each other how to learn from such outstanding cases of these cities. I'm very excited to read the innovative cases from around the world and to study how these experiences can be applied to other cities. I'm looking forward to the final results and also curious about how cities around the world will learn from these cases.

SFC: Based on what you have found during the TC meeting, what qualities do you think make for a good initiative in urban innovation? Moreover, do this cycle’s shortlisted cities reflect a new urban innovation trend?

Dyan: We look at cases from many perspectives. For example: do they feature the characteristics of their communities? What kind of influence has they had on the communities? Can this influence be shared by other cities? Can it inspire changes in other cities?

One trend this year is to leave no one behind. There are a lot of projects on this, such as youth care, disability care, elderly care, and so on. Some interesting projects around technological innovation are also worth sharing with other cities.

This year also sees some cases that focused on integrating innovation and changes into the city as a whole, so that it appears not just as a single project, but can be embedded and applied into all processes of the city. I was deeply encouraged by these projects.


Invest limited Funds into Sustainable Urban Development

SFC: Talking about scientific urban planning, specifically, fine governance, what progress has been made by global cities in recent years? Could you take Brisbane as an example?

Dyan: I think one of the things that global cities are doing well today is to put decisions together, with the guidance on decision-making provided by the SDGs. When cities need to decide how to invest limited funds to ensure the maximum return, the SDGs provide a criterion. That is the approach taken by Brisbane. Last year, we joined the City Initiative of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and since then we have been awarded a silver certificate and are now undergoing a Voluntary Local Review. Just like the Guangzhou Award, it is also an opportunity for cities to learn from each other.

SFC: Brisbane has been preparing for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games. When you’re doing your part in the urban planning process, how do you integrate the Olympic facilities into citizens’ daily lives and enable the facilities to be continuously usa ble and environmentally friendly after the Games?

Dyan: This is a super exciting part of my job. We see the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games as a significant milestone for the future of the city.

The key for us is how we can ensure that the Games provide a great experience for both our residents and visitors from around the world. The layout of the events and venues for the Brisbane Olympics is very different from the previous Olympics. We don't have an Olympic park, and the venues are spread across the city, which means all our residents will be able to enjoy and participate in the local events. We want the events to be accessible to both the city residents and the visitors.

To this end, many of the venues were reused. 86% of the venues are original ones and those that are under construction will also be used to meet the needs for construction and renovation of the growing city.