City counters climate crunch

From our lush parks and gardens to the biodiversity of our waterways, Melbourne has a unique environment to protect and nurture for future generations.

Councillor Cathy Oke, Chair of the Environment Portfolio, said the battle between concrete and green open space is a critical issue in cities around the world.

‘As temperatures rise due to greenhouse gas emissions, and our built environment grows, Melbourne is heating up,’ Cr Oke said.

‘Too much concrete, without the cooling shade of tree canopies, creates an uncomfortable “urban heat island” effect.’

Over the past 30 years, the City of Melbourne has transformed more than 80 hectares of underused ‘grey’ infrastructure into green open space, and sustainability is at the forefront of planning across the municipality.

This year, our new Urban Forest Fund will also accelerate more greening projects in the private realm.

‘Heat, energy, waste and water all have a major impact on our climate, and there are many meaningful actions we can take – individually and as a community – to help to cool the city,’ Cr Oke said.

‘The City of Melbourne is taking action to cool our city in a myriad of ways, from greening our laneways to rooftop gardens and a commitment to doubling our canopy by 2040.

‘Great progress has been made, but we can’t do it alone. We need everyone’s input to help us become a true city of sustainability.

‘I encourage everyone to consider how they can contribute to this goal, and take action now to make the difference for Melbourne and our planet,’ Cr Oke said.

February in Melbourne is a prime time to be inspired by all things sustainable, as people flock to the thriving National Sustainable Living Festival, now in its 19th year.

Luke Taylor, Festival Director for the Sustainable Living Foundation, said it’s important for Melbourne to have this dedicated time to focus on sustainability amid a vibrant, festival environment.

‘If we work together, we have enormous potential to achieve our vision of what a flourishing city of sustainability might look like.’

‘Twenty years ago, sustainability was not the buzzword it is now. Back then, it was all about living off the grid and the media wrote things like: “here come the hippies in their sandals”,’ Luke said.

‘That is now radically different. Today there is much more understanding of sustainable design and building practices for urban areas, and sustainability is on the table in every organisation.

‘We now have the knowledge and creativity to capitalise on renewable energy, sustainable food, energy, waste and water management, and more. The challenge is those who say it can’t be done,’ Luke said.

‘However, if we work together, we have enormous potential to achieve our vision of what a flourishing city of sustainability might look like, without sacrificing our standard of living.’

From its infancy as a three-day event in regional Victoria, the Sustainable Living Festival has exploded into a month-long celebration, offering a huge program of green-minded art, film, performance, forums and special exhibits across the central city throughout February.

‘People often feel overwhelmed by the climate crisis, but it’s easier for organisations like ours to see the flip-side, as we are constantly around people who are investing in solutions,’ Luke said.

‘In fact, our team has an immense feeling of positivity about the future, which we try to flow into everything that we do at the festival.’

Somebody holds a small pot plant

Get gardening tips for small spaces at the Sustainable Living Festival

Sustainable Living Festival highlights

  • Big weekend: Don’t miss the festival’s main event at Federation Square and Birrarung Marr from 9 to 11 February
  • Great local lunch: Experience a crowd-farmed feast at Birrarung Marr where guests donate home-grown produce
  • Electric vehicle expo: Find wheels to suit any budget at Australia’s largest electric vehicle showcase in Port Melbourne
  • Borderwalk: Hear from British adventurer Arjun Bhogal, who walked from the UK to Australia to highlight the need for safe water
  • Reducing energy costs: Discover how simple home improvements can help reduce your energy bills with Richard Keech in Docklands

Find out more at Sustainable Living Festival.

People dine at a long table

The Great Local Lunch celebrates local produce