Urban policy frameworks across Australia present an uneven treatment of environmental issues. While some metropolitan planning strategies are explicit about the role of cities policy in addressing climate change, for example through preparing for rising water levels, increasing likelihood of natural disasters and other environmental hazards, others do not account for this in detail.
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The stated aim of the UN-Habitat is ‘to build inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and communities’ and to promote ‘urbanization as a positive transformative force for people and communities, reducing inequality, discrimination and poverty.’
City policies typically focus on managing urban systems and functions, like transport networks and housing markets, or pursue outcomes, measured in social, environmental or economic terms. Cities also have a cultural dimension that is harder to quantify and integrate into policy frameworks and governance arrangements. Ultimately, cities exist as physical places that are imbued with layers of meaning, only some of which are addressed in the traditional domains of urban policy.
Internationally, improving the environmental sustainability of residential property has been identified as an important way to ensure that economic stimulus spending is invested wisely. It can reduce energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions, improve comfort and health and support employment in the construction sector.