Last week, Brisbane played host to the 10th Asia Pacific Cities Summit. It was first held in 1996, with the venue alternating between the City of Brisbane and cities awarded to host the event in the Asia Pacific Region on a biennial basis ever since.
The Summit is widely recognised as being one of the Asia Pacific region’s leading business and government forums for managing cities and urban development. Given the meteoritic rise of Asia’s economic and population growth over the last three decades, such platforms are vitally important in providing dynamic and interactive foundations for participating cities and governments to exchange knowledge and develop solutions to improve city governance across the Asia Pacific region.
Through the Business School, myself and seven other QUT business students were given the tremendous opportunity to attend the Summit and participate in the Young Professionals Forum. The Forum is an ongoing feature of the APCS and provided us with many invaluable professional develop opportunities. Through the Forum, and the APCS more generally, we were given the opportunity to meet, engage and network with leaders of some of the world’s most populous cities, some of its largest companies and preeminent thinkers and thought leaders.
We were fortunate enough to hear from numerous international government and industry experts. We met and heard from Lord Sebastian Coe, the Chairman of the 2012 London Olympics Organising Committee, who spoke of London’s Olympic bid and more broadly about how today’s cities, in an ever globalized world, must ensure that they cultivate talent, technology and trade. We also heard from SY Lau, Senior Executive Vice President of Tencent, one of the world’s largest internet companies. He spoke of the emerging importance of digital cities, especially in the context of China. His presentation was engaging and thought-provoking, explaining how Chinese cities are becoming smarter and better-connected through the utilisation of technology to enhance environmental, social and economic performance. On the final day of the Summit, we had the privilege of meeting with and listening to Randi Zuckerberg, the CEO of Zuckerberg Media and former head of marketing for Facebook. She provided some fascinating insights into the early years of Facebook, as well as the importance of driving innovation and change through technology.
However, we as Young Professionals also had a job to do. In the lead up to the Summit, we were presented with a series of urban challenges relating to the summit program themes. From these challenges, we were tasked with finding innovative, practical and implementable solutions to them. The solutions had to be cost neutral or revenue positive to city administrations. We worked on developing our solutions during thought-provoking workshops while being joined by many of the speakers and Mayors in attendance at the Summit. Of particular relevance to us as Young Professionals was a session held by the Deputy Mayor of Tel Aviv, Israel. He is the youngest deputy mayor in the city’s history, and really pushed all of us to think about the role and influence that we have in shaping the conversations in our cities, and in our countries more generally. After the workshops, we were then given the opportunity to deliver our solutions to the Mayors attending the Summit, with the hope that some of our ideas will then be implemented in cities across the Asia Pacific.
The Summit wasn’t all work, however. There were numerous social activities including the Summit’s opening ceremony, the gala dinner, and a breakfast walk through the city (too early for some). A highlight of mine was the Mayors and Young Professionals Dinner, where we as Young Professionals were paired with attending mayors over a dinner at City Hall. It was a fantastic experience that allowed us to learn more about cities in our region, some of the challenges they face, but to also learn more about some of the innovative solutions that cities are implementing to ensure sustained prosperity for people across the region.
In all, being able to attend the 2015 Asia Pacific Cities Summit was a fantastic opportunity. I had the chance to meet some incredible people from all over the Asia Pacific. I was able to hear about how cities are planning for the future, about how they are cultivating talent and technology, how they are designing smarter communities, and how they are managing growth to ensure that they can become cleaner, greener and more inclusive places for all people.
Having the ability to attend the Summit is just another example of the many and numerous opportunities that QUT’s Business School gives all of its students. I couldn’t encourage people more strongly to get out there and make the most of the opportunities that QUT gives to all of us.