CITBA Flagships Community empowerment, transformative growth, and building a resilient economy

Community empowerment, transformative growth, and building a resilient economy


The "Community empowerment, transformative growth, and building a resilient economy" flagship of the Centre for International Trade and Business in Asia (CITBA) focuses on addressing the inadequacies of traditional methods for managing external risks such as climate change, public health emergencies, and economic growth.

The orthodox methods of addressing external risks, such as climate change adaptation plans, public health emergency contingency planning, and sustainable economic growth are no longer adequate. These methods, so far, have not only ignored the ongoing structural changes associated with economic development but also failed to account for evolving industries’ composition and the emergence of new comparative advantages and skills. Particularly, vulnerable communities and exposed spaces, particularly in urban areas, that tend to experience higher susceptibility to external risks (such as climate change, natural disasters, and public health emergencies) have been largely ignored in incremental adaptation plans. Vulnerable communities and areas not only require different adaptive responses to climate risk but also possess unlocked adaptive capacity that can motivate different patterns of sustainable development to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda. It is essential, therefore, to view transformative growth and fundamental reorientation of economic resources as integral parts of the solution.

Social disorganisation and vulnerability are other undesired outcomes of the unpredictable and widespread external economic shocks. This is due to a sudden and tough competition between members of society to acquire precious resources, most of which may be depleted during unprecedented events such as natural disasters or pandemics resulting in an even more chaotic and disorganised condition.

Furthermore, Australian cities are lagging behind in their Global Sustainability Index scores with no Australian city making the top 30. This index ranks 100 leading global cities on the three pillars of sustainability (people, planet and profit) as well 32 other different indicators that are closely aligned with the United Nation's sustainable development goals (SDG). This indicates that long-term planning is crucial for major Australian cities in order to achieve a degree of sustainable balance, economic legacy and strategic decisions to manage long-term impacts of economic growth.

This flagship recognizes that these methods have failed to account for the ongoing structural changes associated with economic development and the emergence of new comparative advantages and skills, particularly in vulnerable communities and exposed spaces. The flagship takes a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding the challenges and opportunities presented by changing economies, with a specific focus on community-driven development, unlocking the adaptive capacity of vulnerable communities, sustainable cities, regional competitiveness, and emerging practices for inclusive, transformative, and resilient growth. The flagship aims to address the issues of social disorganization and vulnerability that can result from external economic shocks, as well as the lack of sustainability in Australian cities as measured by the Global Sustainability Index. The flagship aims to provide long-term planning strategies and sustainable solutions to achieve a balance between economic growth, social well-being, and environmental protection.

This flagship is directly aligned with SDG8, SDG11, SDG13 and SDG17.

The flagship has three major objectives:


  1. Investigate the Nexus between Socio-Environmentally Responsible Communities and Inclusive, Sustainable Growth: Explore and understand the underlying connections between communities that prioritize social and environmental responsibility and their potential to unlock inclusive and sustainable growth capacities. This research will delve into the transformative aspects of these communities and their impact on fostering resilient economies.
  2. Empower Communities and Cities for Climate-Change Action: Develop and provide innovative solutions for capacity building within communities and cities to facilitate effective climate-change actions. By empowering communities with the necessary knowledge, skills, and resources, we aim to support their transition towards sustainable practices and resilience-building, contributing to the vision of transformative cities.
  3. Foster Transformative Urban and Regional Areas: Work towards our vision for the development of transformative cities and regions by identifying strategies and approaches that can drive transformative growth and create resilient economies. This objective entails exploring novel frameworks, policies, and practices that enable cities to thrive in the face of social, economic, and environmental challenges, and to realize sustainable development goals

Project 1: Urban Dynamics, Urban Planning, and Sustainable Economic Development
Project 2: Urban Design and Economic Growth: A Tale of Two Cities
Project 3: Climate-resilient economic development and sustainable city planning
Project 4: PhD Project: Community-based tourism, a sustainable path to 2030 agenda 
Project 5:Transforming cities through public urban green spaces to build community well-being: comparative studies 
Project 6:Measuring social and physical wellbeing of age-friendly residential buildings
Project 7: The Role of Entrepreneurship in Urban Economics in the Tropics
Project 8: Value Systems as a Pathway to a Sustainable Future
Project 9: Distance, Migration, and Sustainability of Regions
Project 10: Advancing Responsible Consumption and Production: A Phenomenological Study using Design Thinking Methodology of Food Waste Management in a University Mess in Pune  contribution towards SDG 12

  1. City Temperature And City Economics, A Hidden Relationship Between Sun and Wind and Profit
  2. The role of urban design in economic growth in tropical cities. 1st Sustainable Tropical Urbanism Symposium: Tropical cities in a warming world, Singapore September 2019
  3. Urban growth, heat islands, humidity, climate change: the costs multiply in tropical cities
  4. Community-based tourism in villages surrounding Borobudur Temple:  an inclusive and sustainable path to 2030 agenda
  5. COVID-19 Economy
  6. Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Our Communities
  7. City Lab
  8. Can Cooling the Tropical Cities Warm Up the Economy?
  9. Future Tropical Cities
  10. How to Build a Resilient Economy
  11. Sustainable Tropical Cities: A Scoping Review of Multidisciplinary Methods for Urban Planning
  12. Urban Design and Economic Growth: An Analytical Tale of Two Tropical Cities
  13. Economics for recovery and sustainability
  14. Urban Design and Economic Growth: An Analytical Tale of Two Tropical Cities
  15. Productivity Growth Recovery Mechanisms: An ARDL Approach Lessons from the United States, Japan and South Korea
  16. Measuring urban economic resilience of two tropical cities, using impulse response analysis
  17. The Resilience Shift- It's all in the partnership
  18. Silver Cities: Planning for an Ageing Population in Singapore  An Urban Planning Policy Case Study of Kampung Admiralty (in-press)
  19. Book: Community  Empowerment, Sustainable Cities, and Transformative Economies
  20. Sustainable and Resilient Economies: Theoretical Considerations
  21. Urbanisation and well-being of the  ageing population in twenty-first century : A scoping review of  available assessment tools
  22. The kaleidoscope of changing values : Are we heading towards responsible consumption and sustainable society?
  23. Entrepreneurship, knowledge-economy and  economic success of cities: A scoping review and thematic analysis
  24. Rethinking the contextual factors influencing urban mobility: A new holistic conceptual framework
  25. Silver cities: planning for an ageing population in Singapore. An urban planning policy case study of Kampung Admiralty
  26. Profiling the tropical entrepreneur
  27. Interview with BD mag Is the carbon border adjustment mechanism the key to unlocking the north?
  28. Impact Blog for Emerald Publishing Creating safe and inclusive cities for an ageing population
  29. Authored book:  #Whatever: The Alternative Narrative

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Two photos of the Cairns waterfront

James Cook University and the Centre for International Business and Trade in Asia (CITBA) organised an Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) entitled “Urban Design, Economic Growth, and the Jobs of the Future in the Tropics”. The UTC model is an initiative of UN-Habitat conceived as an open space for critical exchange between urban researchers, professionals, and decision-makers who believe that urbanization is an opportunity and can lead to positive urban and economic transformations.

A large number of community groups from JCU, Redlynch State College, Tropical North Learning Smithfield State High School, Cairns Regional Council, Department of Transport and Main Roads, Cairns Airport, businesses such as GHD, Planz Town Planning, ABDT, non-profit organisations such as Social Enterprise Network for the Tropics (SENT), FNQ Citizen’s Climate Council, My Pathway, MiHaven, Community Owned Enterprise, ISLA, Architects, and other members of the public attended the Urban Thinkers Campus event organised by the Centre for International Trade and Business in Asia (CITBA). The event was part of the United Nation’s Habitat program and it took place over three days between 25-27 Novembers inclusive.

The event proved to be a catalyst to build consensus between participating constituencies for addressing urban and economic challenges in our city and proposing solutions to future challenges.

The event was the culmination of 9 months planning and preparation by a small army of people within CITBA, with special mention of and thanks to A/Prof Josephine Pryce, Dr Silvia Tavares, Ms Diana Castorina, Ms Trang Nguyen, Ms Jane Njaramba, Ms Dwi Sugiharti, Mr Andrew Dineen, Mr Emmanuel McCarthy, and Ms Suzie Pont for their generous contribution of time and expertise before, during, and after the event.

Centre for International Trade and Business in Asia would also like to especially highlight the hard work of Dr Taha Chaiechi, the Australian Director of the Centre, for her continues engagement with the local community in the past several months in promoting the UN initiative in order to amplify the urban thinkers’ movement here in the tropics.

Post-event reports and evaluations are in progress and more details will be released and shared with the colleagues in due course.

The particular focus of this event was on the critical connection between innovative urban design and sustainable economic growth in a way that enhances the quality of life in the tropical communities people live and work.  Building on the previous deliberations of the World Urban Campaign, this UTC was organised around the themes of “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and “The New Urban Agenda”, specifically principle 3 (The City We Need is economically vibrant and inclusive), principle 8 (The city we need is well-planned, walkable and transit-friendly) and principle 10 (The City We Need learns and innovates). The event will also directly contribute to the SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), SDG 13 (Climate Action), and SDG17 (Partnerships).


The recommendations made by the participants, are being compiled and distilled into a structured report which will then be presented to collaborating organisations and other relevant government agencies with a shared interest. The final report will be  produced addressing prospective policy, planning and regulatory response. Moreover, ways of monitoring the actions through indicators will be discussed and defined, and key actors and their roles on the action plan will be identified. This UTC will be featured in the calendar of events on the World Urban Campaign website, as well as on the Urban Thinkers Campus page and will have its own dedicated page.

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Contact: Dr Taha Chaiechi
email: or

Click here to view the program and be sure to register (using the button below) as seats are limited. The event is organised around three main issues:

  • Urban planning and economic growth in the local tropical context
  • Growing urban areas and employment opportunities
  • Urban access, transport networks, and local economies


For more information visit CITBA's International Conference 2021

For more information visit CITBA's International Conference 2022