20 February 2013

Shanghai houses and skyscrapers.The University of South Australia is set to become the Australian epicentre for advanced research into sustainable urban development, in a million dollar partnership with Tianjin University which will develop research and expertise that reaches across China, Australia and the Asia-Pacific.

The China-Australia Centre for Sustainable Urban Development is being launched at UniSA on February 21 in an event that will incorporate a two-day symposium looking at the challenges and opportunities for sustainable cities.

University of South Australia Vice Chancellor and President Professor David Lloyd says the partnership will build research capacity in a field that is both environmentally and regionally significant. 

“This is a truly exciting collaboration for Australia and for our efforts as a nation to make a contribution to mitigating climate change,” Professor Lloyd says.

“Reports have shown that improvements in waste-management, transport infrastructure, and building design and planning, offer by far the biggest potential for cost effective greenhouse gas reductions. With the world’s largest population, these are core issues for China and for Australia, as one of the highest greenhouse gas emitters per capita, sustainability is vital. 

“Our partnership with Tianjin University will deliver not only research that can be applied to these issues in the region, but also a cohort of internationally experienced specialists with the capacity and knowledge to work with industry and the community to support more sustainable urban development.”

President of Tianjin University Professor Li Jiajun, South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill, Lord Mayor of Adelaide Stephen Yarwood, Madam Liping Zhu from Tianjin’s Municipal Government and Dr Haishan Zhao Chairman of the Tianjin Municipal Science and Technology  Commission will be at the launch and address the Symposium.

UniSA Director of the China-Australia Centre for Sustainable Urban Development, Professor Steffen Lehmann, predicts the Centre and the million dollar investment provided by UniSA will bring research jobs growth to the state.

“We expect the Centre to be the base for many PhD researchers from Australia, China and other parts of our region in the next five years who will be working on aspects of urban sustainability and our aim is to work across disciplines to bring together new thoughts and ideas – to look at the science, the social psychology, and the economics that provide the threads for more sustainable urban living,” he says.

Prof Lehmann says the Centre will not only operate as a leading international think-tank dedicated to addressing complex urban research questions, it will also provide international opportunities for students from China and Australia, and collaborations with governments, private-sector organisations, research institutions, industry and environmental and community groups around the world.

 “Already we have plans to welcome planning directors from 300 Chinese cities who will access ‘training the trainers’ education so that they can work to share best practice theories in sustainable urban planning and train more of their own people in the principles of sustainable planning and development,” he says.

Emerging research themes for the new Centre include responses to rapid population growth, ageing populations and unsustainable resource consumption.

Researchers at the Centre will be contributing to evidence-based policy and program recommendations in building and adapting age-friendly cities, urban farming and productive urban landscapes, prefabricated timber high-rise, behaviour change to reduce consumption and waste; and developing a zero-waste mindset.

More information about the symposium is available online

Media contact
Michèle Nardelli office: 08 8302 0966 mobile: 0418 823 673 email: michele.nardelli@unisa.edu.au

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