100 Resilient Cities

Sydney

Download PDF
Explore the Strategy

Follow our progress

Sydney is a beautiful, prosperous and multicultural city, but it is struggling to maintain its liveability and equity during a time of rapid growth.

As our city grows it is experiencing a range of chronic stresses such as a lack of housing affordability, transport congestion and chronic illness that are impacting people’s everyday lives. The city regularly responds to a range of shock events such as extreme heat, storms and flooding or bushfires and cyber attacks. Sydney has the opportunity to use its growth to address vulnerabilities to our economy and environment and create a place of opportunity and wellbeing for everyone.

Resilient Sydney, is the first resilience strategy for metropolitan Sydney. This strategy sets the direction we must take to strengthen our ability to survive, adapt and thrive in the face of increasing global uncertainty and local shocks and stresses. This strategy calls for business, government, academia, communities and individuals to lead and work as one city.

The directions in this strategy reflect the priorities people want for Sydney’s future – providing a greater say in decisions that affect them, better collaboration in leadership, stronger community connections and transport connections, more focus on protecting our environment, better emergency preparedness, and acknowledgement and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as one of the world’s most resilient cultures.

This strategy supports organisations and communities to participate and collaborate in building connections and developing their resilience plans.

It is time for Sydney to act as one city. To become connected, inclusive and resilient is a challenge every organisation and resident in Sydney must address, together.

01 People centred city We include communities in decision making for growth and equity.

02 Live with our climate We adapt to sustain our quality of life and our environment.

03 Connect our strength Every Sydneysider will feel they belong in our community and city.

04 Get ready We know how to prepare, respond and recover.

05 One city We are one city.

+ menu

01

We include communities in decision making for growth and equity.

Our city is growing, inequity is rising, and infrastructure and services lag behind. Sydney’s population is rising rapidly. It is projected to grow from 5 million people in 2016 to 6.4 million by 2036. Most of this growth will occur in the west and south west – 45% of Sydneysiders will live there 2031 – as well as some parts of the inner east. Infrastructure, transport, schools and health services have not kept up with population growth in these areas.

To address the challenge of inequitable growth, Sydney will include communities in decision making for growth and equity.

The flagship action for this direction is ensuring that shocks and stresses managed through planning for growth. This action will build capacity within and between local governments and communities for more adaptive, integrated decision making and will improve our understanding of systemic risk. Criteria for investment will focus on more equitable outcomes from growth and more flexible governance and decision making that addresses long term community stresses.

Supporting actions include networking metropolitan practitioners for community agency and collaborating for cross-city active transport. 

02

We adapt to sustain our quality of life and our environment.

Our climate and weather are intense, chronic illness is increasing and our environment is under pressure. Sydney’s weather is changing: the climate is getting hotter and storms are becoming wilder and more frequent. Sea levels are rising, and heatwaves, droughts and bushfires are becoming more frequent and more intense. These trends are forecast to continue.

To address the challenge of pressure on our health, the environment, and economy, Sydney will make changes to sustain our quality of life and our environment.

The flagship action for this direction is policy and action to cool homes and streets. This collaboration of diverse stakeholders is building a shared understanding and awareness of how to reduce the impact of extreme heat. They will integrate science, planning, product design and performance tools to reduce vulnerability of communities to extreme heat and support liveability and well-being. This new voluntary governance approach is pioneering self-regulation for managing climate risk in our city.

Supporting actions include developing investment in resilient buildings, assets, and precincts, and cities and enabling affordable access to renewable and resilient energy. 

03

Every Sydneysider will feel they belong in our community and city.

We are a fast growing city with high levels of cultural diversity. Social cohesion has traditionally been high in Australian society, defined as the presence or absence of social trust and cooperation between citizens. However, social cohesion between our different communities is decreasing, and social isolation is increasing. This undermines the vital connections we need to live well as well as how we respond together in a shock event. Sydney today is home to Australia’s largest population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We are also amongst the most culturally diverse cities on earth – 39% of us were born overseas and around 32% speak a language other than English at home.

To address declining social cohesion, Sydney will work to ensure that every Sydneysider will feel they belong in our community and in our city.

The flagship action of this direction is to monitor metropolitan social cohesion and wellbeing. A well connected and cohesive city responds better to major shocks and can work together to manage stresses. The measurement, monitoring and understanding of social cohesion and levels of tolerance and wellbeing across our metropolitan city has been fragmented and inconsistent. A coordinated approach is required to improve our understanding of how to most effectively and efficiently support and invest in community cohesion.

This action will connect practitioners across government, business, social services and the community to share the range of wellbeing indicators already being used by councils such as the City of Sydney and Parramatta, and State government agencies across Sydney. These include metrics such as level of community connectedness, networks, or close personal relationships and measures of trust. This action will identify and convene a ‘community of interest’ of organisations with expertise and data, including those with experience of measuring household financial wellbeing.

Supporting actions include learning from First Nations Elders and community leaders, who are experts in resilience and survival. 

04

We know how to prepare, respond and recover.

Like people everywhere, Sydneysiders rely on infrastructure and essential services that provide our food, energy and water, telecommunications, transport, and manage our waste. They are owned and managed by a patchwork of different organisations, both government and private businesses. All these assets and services are intricately connected and disruptions can have knock-on effects with serious impacts across city systems. As these systems become more complex, it is crucial each organisation understands their connections and roles in managing risks.

To address the lack of understanding of risks and interdependencies, Sydney will work to know how to manage risks to prepare, respond, and recover.

The flagship action of this direction is to launch the Get Prepared app, and help prepare 100,000 Sydneysiders ready for any type of emergency. Engagement revealed serious community concern over a lack of community preparedness for emergencies. The community were also aware of the need to strengthen local connections to ensure support and safety is close by during disasters. Strong, connected communities have the added benefit of increasing social cohesion across our city.

The number of households taking action to prepare in Sydney is unknown and effort is required to encourage take up and report results. The Red Cross and IAG have co-created the Get Prepared app. The app is a free and easy to use, one-stop tool to help community members prepare for any type of emergency.

Supporting actions include piloting a disaster preparedness program for councils and mapping vulnerabilities at a District planning level. 

05

We are one city.

Sydney is not governed as a single city. The three layers of government with jurisdiction over Sydney have overlapping responsibilities for supporting the economy, the environment and the communities of the city.

To address the challenge of disjointed governance, Sydney will work to create a more connected and collaborative city, by adopting resilience thinking in organisations across diverse areas, from urban renewal planning and development, to transport, social infrastructure and service delivery, to climate change adaptation and emergency preparedness planning.

The flagship action for this direction will be to engage 100 organizations in the Sydney Resilience Commitment. Lack of understanding of metropolitan scale risks and interdependencies, lack of people-centred decisions, and a tendency to operate in silos has both caused and exacerbated our challenges. Building our city’s resilience requires purposeful, coordinated action. The first step is building commitment. We invite all government, business, academic and community sector organisations in metropolitan Sydney to commit to supporting the implementation of this strategy by building their capacity to understand and manage vulnerabilities, interdependencies and risks for everyone in metropolitan Sydney.

By taking this commitment, organisations will ensure continuity and safety for their customers, employees and local communities during shock events. They will demonstrate innovation and market leadership, and improve the wellbeing and prosperity of our community.

Supporting actions include maintaining and supporting the Resilient Sydney Office, the backbone of which began in 2015.

Our Resilience Team

  • Beck Dawson

    Chief Resilience Officer

    @beck4eco
  • Kristin Gabriel

    Deputy Chief Resilience Officer

  • Campbell Young

    Resilience Officer

Read Sydney's Resilience Strategy