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Perth a sustainability leader – new book on sustainable world cities

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19 September 2008

Perth features in a new book on innovative sustainable world cities released today.

Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems by Professor Peter Newman, head of the Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute (CUSP), and environmental science graduate Isabella Jennings, shows how cities around the world are demonstrating innovations in sustainability.

Perth’s features that are recognised globally are its revived rail system, the visioning processes associated with Network City and the State Sustainability Strategy, the way bush is protected in the city, TravelSmart, water sensitive urban design, and the regional project Gondwana Links which is forging a continuous bush link between Perth and South Australia.

Professor Newman, who developed the State Sustainability Strategy from 2001 to 2003, said the relatively new concept of sustainable cities was fast becoming a mainstream idea.

“Cities that sprawl forever, engulfing their surrounding bush and farmland, consuming ever more fuel and water, will eventually collapse,” Professor Newman said.

“Creating cities that are sustainable ecosystems demands innovation in technology and decision-making if we are to adapt to the great challenges facing us such as climate change and ‘peak oil’.

“For more than 30 years I have been warning cities about preparing for peak oil having coined the term ‘automobile dependence’ to describe how we have created cities where we have to drive everywhere.

“Perth is now considered a leader by saving, rebuilding and extending the rail system, by reducing the urban sprawl and by its commitment towards reducing the dependence on vehicles through household programs like TravelSmart.

“We must build on that and not go backwards.”

Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems, published by Island Press, also shows how some cities have adopted simple strategies such as building eco-villages, harvesting rainwater, greening roofs, producing renewable energy, and creating biodiversity parks and pedestrian-friendly spaces that encourage walking and cycling. The book was launched by Paul Antonelli, the founder of the Somerville Eco-Village at Chidlow.

Professor Newman is an inaugural member of the Federal Government’s Infrastructure Australia Advisory Council. In January, he set up the Fremantle-based CUSP Institute, a front-line research and teaching Institute which demonstrates how Curtin is pursuing its goals in sustainability. He has completed a Fulbright scholarship which he spent at the University of Virginia studying sustainability initiatives in the U.S. and, with Jeff Kenworthy, he is the author of Sustainability and Cities (Island Press, 1999).

Modified: 19 September 2008

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