The 4th APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes (APRU-SCL) Conference and PhD Symposium held 14th-18th December 2020 received an overwhelmingly positive feedback from academics and students for serving as a highly valuable platform for the exchange of insights between peers from across the Pacific Rim. 91.7% of respondents in a recently completed survey said they would like to continue engagement with their working groups in 2021 while 75% would be interested in joining the 5th APRU-SCL Conference in Hawai’i in person in 2022.
The 4th SCL Conference and PhD Symposium were held virtually, with the survey’s stellar approval rates illustrating that the new conceptualization and pioneering approaches to empower attendees to fully engage in many different formats of interactions has worked out very well. For the host institution, the Future Cities Research Hub at the School of Architecture and Planning of the University of Auckland, the event represented the first fully virtual conference of this kind and size.
“The strong financial support from the senior management, faculty and school made this successful shift to an online format possible,” said Christina Schönleber, APRU’s Senior Director (Policy and Programs).
“It enabled attendees to participate in live panel discussions, set up one-on-one meetings with other attendees, participate in group networking and watch keynotes from presenters, with a total of 56 funded registrations for PhD Students, Early Career Academics, Postdocs and academics from developing countries” added Paola Boarin, Conference Director.
The APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Program was launched to address the urgent necessity of understanding and managing the interconnection between cities and their surrounding ecology in the face of unprecedented population growth and climate change. The 4th SCL Conference was structured around eleven working groups, as well as plenaries, keynotes, interactive happy hours and virtual tours, attracting 152 participants from 21 economies.
The opening keynote was given by the University of Auckland’s Associate Professor Damon Salesa, followed by keynotes and panel discussions on Indigenous Knowledge and Wisdom (given by Dr Rhys Jones, Senior Lecturer in Māori Health at the University of Auckland) and on SDGs in post-pandemic cities in New Zealand and Across the Pacific (given by Bernhard Barth, Human Settlements Officer at UN-Habitat’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific). The seven panelists — from Māori experts to policy makers — encouraged in-depth thinking on cultural traditions and methods to build back better.
A two-days PhD student symposium was offered for the first time this year. The event allowed students to present their research that relates to the topics of the working groups and the SDGs. In total 24 PhD students from across the Pacific Rim were accepted in the Symposium. Yao Ji from Keio University won the best paper award for her paper titled” Remaking the rural: Alternative forms of revitalization in post-growth Japan”.
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