Last week, Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation hosted our annual Inspiring Philanthropy oration, this year on the topic of Sustainable Cities. The oration was attended by our donors, and environment and research organisations who are grant partners in our Sustainable Melbourne grants program. Professor Chris Ryan, who is director of the Victorian Eco Innovation Lab (VEIL) at the University of Melbourne, took us on a journey across cities and possible futures. Among his key messages was the notion that we can be active participants in imagining the future we want. 

The future is not set. It is up to the community and planners to create a future city that is accessible, sustainable and liveable. We all hope that in 20 years’ time, Melbourne will still hold the title of the world's most liveable city. As a Foundation, we are working towards creating a more sustainable future by funding projects related to food systems, water and renewable energy.


CEO Catherine Brown pictured during the Sustainable Cities Forum Panel Discussion with Dr Rob McGauran, Dr Rachel Carey, Professor Chris Ryan, and facilitated by Misha Ketchell, Managing Editor - The Conversation. 

VEIL’s Foodprint is a great example of a project that is using research to build a better understanding of the present from which to imagine various futures. The extent and variety of Melbourne's food bowl has been mapped. Research has found that our city-fringe farmland grows enough food to meet 41 per cent Melbourne’s current overall food needs. The population of Melbourne is expected to grow to seven million by 2050 requiring 60 per cent more food to feed the population. 

If we want a sustainable food system into the future, we must plan more carefully to preserve our highly fertile market garden areas on the outskirts of Melbourne's south east and west. If we continue with the current trajectory of land use only 18 per cent of our food needs will be met at 2050. 

We need to encourage urban agriculture and local community gardens. The pressure of a growing city and changing climate need to be taken into account when planning for our future food sources.


How do you imagine Melbourne in the future? 


Catherine Brown