Page 5378 - Week 14 - Thursday, 30 November 2017

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The world cities program is an initiative of the director-general for regional and urban policy of the European Commission in the framework of the European Parliament. It seeks to promote an exchange of experience and best practice between EU and non-EU countries. Under the world cities program, Prague is the partner city for Canberra. In recognition of the partnership developing between Canberra and Prague under the EU world cities program, I had the privilege to sign on behalf of the ACT government a letter of intent with the Prague City Hall. Ms Kristyna Kucerova, deputy director of the Prague Startup Centre, was the joint signatory.

This letter of intent sets out the agreement to the exchange of experience and best practice through community, business and government partnerships for the promotion of innovation and sustainable solutions, with examples being the mutual exchange regarding smart city technologies and renewable energy initiatives. The ACT government will build on the Canberra-Prague letter of intent to continue to develop ongoing information exchange on key topics, including smart city technology and advances, and fostering ideas on good design.

Following the world cities program initial meeting in Melbourne, Australia, the Prague delegation visited Canberra in May 2017. They were particularly interested in our renewable technologies. The ACT’s hospitality was returned by Prague and the EU in August this year. The delegation comprised myself, Mr Ben Ponton, the director-general of Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate, and my senior adviser.

Five members from the ACT branch of the Property Council of Australia undertook a concurrent, self-funded tour of the same cities. The tour was focused on five themes. Seeking to further ACT’s interests in pursuing excellence in sustainable development and design and best practice community-led initiatives, the themes were designed around: design innovation, sustainable development, green infrastructure and parks, community-led initiatives and place-making, and integration with smart technology.

Each city provided many insights to me and the other delegates about how the cities meet contemporary challenges. By looking at best practice examples across Europe and Singapore and combining this with meetings and discussions about their planning system, it aided my understanding on how good design and business opportunities can be combined to innovate in all areas of city management.

I was keenly aware of the value of quality space and public design in Brussels and Prague, while in cities such as Copenhagen and Berlin, technology has been embraced. It infiltrates all areas of city management to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience for climate change impacts.

Several European centres demonstrated how dilapidated industrial areas were transformed into diverse and attractive urban neighbourhoods, illustrating a respectful relationship between new buildings with their older, historic neighbours. In Copenhagen I saw how car parking for residential buildings is not located on site, but in centralised locations up to 200 metres away, with these car parks built as

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