Thinking global, acting local
Who are we and who do we want to be? The Illawarra Futures Symposium looks at the regional development of UOW’s neighbourhood.
Wollongong is the third largest city in New South Wales behind Sydney and Newcastle. But what will the city, and the larger Illawarra region, look like in 2050?
Will our regional economy make a smooth transition away from its mining and high-carbon manufacturing roots? What local strategies will we adopt to combat global issues like climate change? The inaugural Illawarra Futures Symposium will shine a light on these questions and more when it kicks off at the University of Wollongong’s Innovation Campus in November.
“Illawarra Futures will start a dialogue about the region with the people who live and work in the region. It will present facts about the present state of the Illawarra and it will offer and seek ideas for the future”, according to Natalie Burroughs, CEO of Regional Development Australia Illawarra (RDAI), who will be partnering with the University of Wollongong to present the first ever Illawarra Futures Symposium from November 8-9.
The event will feature prominent leaders, such as the Premier of New South Wales, Barry O’Farrell and Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, as well as renowned researchers like Business Innovation expert Professor Danny Samson from the University of Melbourne and UNSW social transformation scholar Associate Professor Cheryl Kernot. They will cover a range of topics – from retrofitting the Illawarra’s built environment with clean-tech innovations and creating green jobs to the digital future of the region.
UOW tourism expert Professor Chris Gibson, who will chair a panel session at Illawarra Futures, believes the Illawarra needs to think outside the box when it comes to tourism. To generate more income from tourist dollars (and perhaps less from high-carbon manufacturing), Professor Gibson said we need to look to niche markets that are often overlooked.
“Wollongong has one of Australia’s largest surfboard-making industries, rivalling the Gold Coast, and yet there is very poor integration between this local manufacturing industry and beach-tourism promotion”, he said.
In 30 years from now, Professor Paul Cooper, Director of UOW’s Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SRBC) believes the Illawarra should be leading the way, nationally and internationally, “in manufacturing of products and provision of services that will help meet the worldwide demand for environmentally sustainable development”.
He said that ideally by 2050 the Illawarra built environment (such as our homes, schools and businesses) should have moved not only towards sustainability, but towards a ‘restorative future’.
“That is, a future whereby our buildings make a net positive contribution to the environment”, Professor Cooper said
This means producing more clean, renewable energy and water than they consume from the centralised electrical and water supply grids and having the capacity to produce some food or other products that will offset our reliance of non-renewable resources.
UOW Chancellor and Chair of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Ms Jillian Broadbent, AO, will also give a keynote address at the Illawarra Futures Symposium, entitled: “A Clean Energy Future - Illawarra region”.
Register here now.
By Elise Pitt