Featured News Can cooling tropical cities warm up the economy?

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Wed, 27 Nov 2019

Can cooling tropical cities warm up the economy?

Dr Taha Chaiechi
Dr Taha Chaiechi, Australian Director of JCUs Centre for International Trade and Business in Asia

Boosting business and stimulating economic growth by creating cool microclimates in sweltering cities is just one of the topics on the agenda as international experts in urban design and economic development meet in Cairns this week (November 25-27).

The Urban Thinkers Campus is an initiative of the United Nations-Habitat World Urban Campaign to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities, with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.

The Cairns conference will bring together international and local experts in design, economics and development to discuss solutions to issues including: building and promoting sustainable cities and communities; climate change; the built environments that trap heat and raise temperatures in pockets of the central business district.

James Cook University (JCU) Senior Lecturer Dr Taha Chaiechi said research showed the temperature sometimes climbed as high as 45 degrees in some parts of the Cairns central business district.

"Climate-smart urban design, particularly in hot tropical cities, is as important economically as it is aesthetically," said Dr Chaiechi, who is also the Australian Director of the JCU Centre for International Trade and Business in Asia (CITBA).

She said urban planners and designers could create cooler city microclimates in business centres through tree planting, shade structures, 'breezy' building orientation and smart choice of materials for public facilities such as outdoor seating.

"City centre visitors are more likely to stay longer, and to spend more money, if they are physically comfortable," she said.

The theme of the 2019 Urban Thinkers Campus is Urban Design, Economic Growth and Jobs of the Future. The conference will run from November 25-27 at the JCU City Campus on Shields Street.

Speakers at the Urban Thinkers Campus include:

  • Dr Taha Chaiechi, Australian Director, Centre for International Trade and Business in Asia, James Cook University. Planning on Future Sustainable Cities
  • Professor Liz Spencer, Head of Law, JCU. Urban Thinkers: The Interdisciplinary Imperative
  • Mr Angelo Finocchiaro, Cairns Regional Council. CBD Activation
  • Mr Pat Flanagan, Market Lead Environment & Planning, Northern Australia. Cairns 300/500
  • Ms Nikki Huddy, PLANZ Town Planning & PIA. Shape of the City
  • Dr Silvia Tavares, TUDLab, College of Science and Engineering, JCU. Innovative Urban Solutions and Sustainable Communities
  • Dr Narayan Gopalkrishnan, Social Enterprise Network for the Tropics (SENT), JCU.Addressing homelessness through social enterprise
  • Mr Brian Arnold, Aboriginal Development Benefits Trust. Empowering the Gulf through Business  and Liveability
  • A/Prof Lawal Billa, University of Nottingham. Flood Resilience and Urban Planning
  • Mr Greg Mews, Urban Synergies Group. Right to the City
  • Urban Design students, Tropical North Learning Academy,Smithfield State High School. The City We Need.

About the Urban Thinkers Campus: The Urban Thinkers Campus is an initiative for the UN-Habitat's 'New Urban Agenda': an urbanisation action blueprint for government, the UN, civil society, communities, the private sector, professionals, the scientific and academic community, in support of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development; especially Sustainable Development Goal 11 - making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.


Media enquiries: linden.woodward@jcu.edu.au