thurs 27 may 2021


Integrating the SDGs in planning practice


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) constitute a shared framework of development priorities which aim to protect the environment, address climate change, and encourage good governance, peace and security. Under the leadership of the United Nations, the global community including governments, businesses and others in Australia, has committed to pursuing 17 ambitious goals over 15 years (e.g. creating safe, resilient and sustainable cities). As a global agenda the SDGs are shifting the sustainable development narrative from being predominantly about developing countries ‘over there’, to more clearly articulating the role that wealthy, developed nations such as Australia play as part of this transformative agenda. Whilst the SDGs are not legally binding, they have gained substantial buy-in internationally, gaining prominence as a major influencer on the strategies and actions of governments, businesses and organisations. This research positions the SDGs as a critical framework for planning by: 1) asking the hard questions about the sustainability of our own urban and regional development legacies and trajectories; and 2) collectively exploring innovative and transformative sustainability pathways to the future, particularly within our cities. The SDGs therefore offer both a practical framework and critical invitation for planners to take seriously the sustainable development challenges in our own cities and regions, as well as the implications of Australia’s actions for other nations.

Wendy Steele MPIA

RMIT University

Wendy Steele is an Australian Council Research Fellow (ARC DECRA and ARC Discovery) and Associate Professor in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University, Melbourne. She is the co-leader of the Critical Urban Governance research program in the Centre for Urban Research and an Urban Scholar for the United Nations Global Cities Compact Program. Her research focuses on cities in a climate of change with current projects on the Sustainable Development Goals in higher education, critical infrastructure, climate justice and urban futures. Wendy is an executive member of the Australasian Cities Research Network (ACRN) and on the International editorial board for the Journals of Urban Policy and Research and Sustainability. She was awarded the Peter Harrison Memorial Award by the Fenner School, Australian National University for her contribution to environmental sustainability.