Photo by Ayush Jain


This presentation will illustrate the actions taken by the City over the last 30 years to adapt the inner City for a sustainable future. Key initiatives include:

  • Postcode 3000. Increasing the residential density of the CBD from 685 units to over 45,000 units.
  • Grey to Green. The removal and repurposing of over 80 hectares of asphalt and turning it into new green space, widened footpaths, and tree planting.
  • Urban Forest Strategy. The adoption and implementation which has delivered over 3000 new trees per annum in the central city.
  • City as a Catchment. The delivery of a water storage and permeability program that supports the urban forest and controls over land flow.
  • Green Buildings. The design and building of Australia’s first 6 Star Green Star commercial office building, Council House 2 (CH2) has led the way for green commercial buildings in Melbourne.
  • MREP 1 and 2.  Melbourne’s renewable energy program which has seen the construction of two wind-powered renewable energy plants that generate 198 GWH of renewable energy used by the 16 partners to offset their energy uses.

Over these 30 years, the City of Melbourne has not only been a leader in local government policy settings but has importantly implemented these policies, which in most cases are scalable and transferable to other cities globally. The approach was recognized in 2014 by the C40 City Climate Leadership Award, and the Economist magazine has voted Melbourne the world’s most livable city on seven occasions. In effect, the City of Melbourne anticipated some of the Sustainable Development Goals, and has been an exemplar in achieving sustainable urbanization.

Event Recording

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Rob Adams

AM, City of Melbourne City Architect 

Since joining the City of Melbourne in 1985, Rob Adams has, through his role at the City, helped write and implement the rejuvenation strategy for central Melbourne. This has resulted in Melbourne being voted, by the Economist Magazine, the world’s most liveable city on seven occasions. He received the Prime Minister’s Environmentalist of the Year in 2008, the Order of Australia in 2007, and the Australian Institute of Architect’s National President’s Award in 2018, and the CoM City Design team, which he led, have received over 160 international, state, and local awards. Rob has an international profile and has represented Australia on the Cities Council of the World Economic Forum since 2008. Since November 2020, he has fulfilled an advisor and mentoring role as the City Architect while also setting up his own practice Adams Urban.


Dr. Anna Rubbo

D.Arch, Board Member CSU 

Prior to joining the Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CSUD) in the Climate School, Columbia University, in 2012, Anna Rubbo, LFAIA, taught Architecture at the University of Sydney. A member of the UN Millennium Project Task Force (2002-04) on Improving the Lives of Slum Dwellers, she went on to lead the Global Studio (2005-12), an action research project with a social justice agenda to promote a ‘people as partners’ model for urban professionals. In 2012 she headed up People Building Better Cities, an exhibition shown in 18 cities and 10 countries to encourage debate on inclusive urbanization. Her 2019 Local Project Challenge profiles 111 SDGs-oriented projects from the professions, education, and civil society. She is co-chair of the ‘Design for Resilient Communities’ panel for the UIA ‘Leaving No-one Behind’ Congress in Copenhagen in 2023.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the key actions taken by the City of Melbourne over the last 30 years to adapt the inner City for a sustainable future.
  • Discuss how Melbourne has been able to increase the residential density of the CBD from 685 units to more than 45,000 units.
  • Identify how the City of Melbourne has removed and repurposed over 80 hectares (almost 200 acres) of asphalt, turning it into new green space, widened footpaths and locations for tree planting.
  • Illustrate how the adoption and implementation of an Urban Forest Strategy by the City of Melbourne has led to the planting of 3,000 new trees annually in the central city.
  • Consider whether the City of Melbourne anticipated the SDGs, which ones, and how.

Collaborating Organizations for Green Cities 2022

Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization, UN-Habitat, AIA New York, AIANY Planning & Design, the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY, Habitat Professionals Forum for Sustainable Cities, Perkins-Eastman, Creative Exchange Lab, Columbia Center for Buildings, Infrastructure & Public Space, and Global Urban Development (GUD)

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