The ShapingSEQ regional plan claims to have examined “megatrends” or “important pattern of social, economic or environmental activity that occurs at the intersection of many trends” .
Arguably the urban expansion of SEQ over the past 30 years is itself a megatrend… a trend to a 200km city which can be seen happening in a google timelapse video.
The Timelapse is a global, zoomable video that lets you see how the Earth has changed over the past 32 years.
Megatrends for ShapingSEQ (part 2)
Another perspective on mega trends comes from Sustainable Australia Report 2013: Conversations with the future provides a picture of Australia – what we look like and who we are. It tells the story of how we have changed as a nation over the last 30 years. Well worth a read.
The gap between science and planning seems to be widening which the evidence based approach to planning is being replaced by a top down model (see Moreton Bay – 20 years of science and planning)
In this post we examine and comment on four more of the megatrends identified in ShapingSEQ ie
- Health, Ageing and Changing Preferences
- Resource Dependency
- Pressure on Biodiversity
- Climate Change and Disaster Resilience
Ways to make a submission/comment to the SEQ Planners are provided below.
Health, ageing and changing preferences
This megatrend is as valid as any of the others. As the financial commitment to live in SEQ increases, the flexibility to change living standards with age declines. For example, if pensions do not advance as quickly as the SEQ economy and current downsizing of living conditions continues for the aged, then their flexibility to relocate to keep living standards stable can be expected to decline. Choice of healthcare regimes will suffer the same declines.
The advent of more of the aged people acquiring reverse mortgages will increase this sense of entrapment and dependency. This lessening horizon will see pressure to more rigidly stratify urban society into those advancing villages and those just able to survive with a constant fear of losing community antonym.
The plan’s idea to integrate village-type centres to allow for more uniqueness within social communities is laudable but it is not demonstrated elsewhere. What is the likelihood for some of these villages to be identified as aged communities and thereby become lesser places in the overall economic scheme of things? This can engender a segregated social landscape rather than the desirable more integrated society.
As regards changing preferences it is not clear that change is within the lexicon of the planners when pertaining to the aged. Perhaps in 25 to 50 years, one’s sense of self will be less related to their careers and financial resources. More self-awareness will be focused towards their social class when an individual’s change in status will be more readily accepted and deemed less threatening to their community status.
At that time aged communities may well accept structural social change as normal. It seems that the current aged community are unable to accept economic class as their delineating qualifier at least in the foreseeable future.
The concept of a village can be construed as a balanced social order where family status is used to hold the village together and allow for more streamlines social services to have common outcomes – perhaps a “well being” index can standardise this desired status.
As time evolves and the community ages these common indices will change because the social structures they reside in will have changed. These community personalities will not develop uniformly and social inequity shared between the various “villages” will lead to an advantaged or disadvantaged community matrix to evolve.
In an urban context this leads to a perpetual renewal processes with the goal of stable community living being realised. But since renewal requires public revenues the local resident’s well-being can be expected to degrade, as did public housing developments experienced decades ago.
Therefore, the intent of the “plan” might be to have a social scale that is community based and beneficial. Yet there is difficulty in seeing how these intra-urban personalities can be stabilise enough to make for tight self-supporting communities where change is understood to be mandatory. Even though community wellbeing is best achieved with social stability. The fear is that the village model will reinforce a stratifying force that will see stable aged communities as lower income and economically static centres with declining standards of living.
Overall, inequality in Australia has risen over the last 40 years and is a very genuine megatrend!
This megatrend requires complex understanding and management regardless of the plan’s scope. Yet it is the most difficult trend to quantify.
For example, as waste management systems improve the level of recycling will increase. In 25 years it can be expected that fossil fuels will be for the World’s disadvantaged and that renewable energy will predominate in modern societies.
The advent of significant climate change in SEQ, whether it is longitudinal or cyclic, can expect to make natural resources ever more limited. Conservation measures in freshwater reserves will see progressively more marine sources used.
As “alternative” energy resources become more available the extraordinary costly access to desalinise freshwater will lessen or just become less argumentative as water’s value increases. This dependency is of a lesser concern.
Arable land to produce foodstuffs will become more limited too and be more intensely cultivated. There are some that already claim the planet has only 60 years of arable soil remaining (ie sufficient to feed the human population). It can be expected that while the natural environment will be more valuable and kept as a spiritual measure of human development, arable land will take on a more industrial management structure for food production to meet demand.
SEQ can expect this demand to increase owing to its climatic desirability and easy access to energy for cooling purposes. Population growth through immigration will likely persist…without a proper benefit cost analysis.
The position fostered in the “plan” would have us believe that biodiversity is in of itself justified for conservation purposes. After reasonable positions for water and lands being achieved, this stance is confusing. To assume that biodiversity will be stable whilst the environment of SEQ radically changes is difficult to understand.
In 2016 we are presented with a presumption of having an unintegrated ecological matrix for SEQ’s environment. If the megatrend for technological change is presented with so much promise how can we accept that the ecology SEQ physically resides within, can be maintained unchanged?
Pressure on biodiversity
The presumption in the plan is that “biodiversity” is identified as merely wildlife preservation. This definition needs to change to encompass more than just an entertainment connotation.
Biodiversity needs to be seen in the context of being environmental stabilisers able to modulate expected climate changes.
Human well-being is dependent on these modulators. Vegetation to modulate flooding in SEQ is one very easily understood economic reality.
As taxation revenues wanes from ever more costly storm impact expenses and infrastructure repairs become ever more costly, more reliance will be placed upon biodiversity’s modulating affects. This means whole environments will need to be healthy from soil microbes to forest cover.
Why is so little presented in the “plan” about this biodiversity dependence. The loss of soil stability can strip governmental coffers of funds more quickly than storm repairs yet nothing is expressed within the “plan” to rearrange fiscal budgets to protecting these low cost environmental stabilisers.
It seems that the “plan” spends too much time on preserving the tokenism of biodiversity and not enough on the preservation of that biodiversity’s stabilising effects in the SEQ environment. A fulsome move to an ecosystem services approach to planning is warranted, the current focus on urban development, growth management and traditional employment will prove inadequate within the timespan of the Plan.
The ironic fact is that the ecological complexity of the current SEQ biodiversity portfolio is too great to replicate when it is altered or lost. For instance, those trophic pathways regulating our environment may actually be able to evolve with current rates of climate change so keeping SEQ’s environment healthier.
However to impair this ability of the environment to evolve can have profound impacts on future environmental health. Having more reserves and parks has little effect on this scale of required stability in SEQ’s biodiversity.
The SEQ climate is one of the resource dependencies not considered in the “plan”. This shallow expression of resources dependency needs some qualified attention.
Climate change and disaster resilience
As with most climate change discussions currently underway, a lot of attention is being paid to the sense of preservation. Yet little is presented to see if there is any social benefits to be had from these projected changes.
It is suggested that because climate change is and will continue to be impacting on the development of SEQ that less emphasis be spent on remediation pursuits and more energy put into pre-empting change to benefit the SEQ community, even if it is considered on only a temporal scale.
If we are looking for more employment, higher skilled public service employment at that, fostering a new climate change industry that offers income-generating jobs might be a better option than merely working on patching up extant SEQ infrastructure damaged by climate change.
Planning for severe weather events could be a growth industry for SEQ. Further SEQ could be the centre for exporting these skills regionally and internationally. Clearly, the “plan” should move away from solely fostering insurance-based programs. Instead to organise an industrial program that markets climate change for earnings.
Of course there is now need to consider the known knowns or the known unknowns that will flow from the views of the new American President, Donald Trump…he may well be the unforeseen megatrend.
Make a submission to the SEQ Regional Plan
Submissions must be provided to the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning in writing and include the following information for all submitters:
• first and last names
• addresses (home or business)
• signatures (unless lodged electronically).
Submissions may be lodged several ways:
• Online: Lodge your submission
• Email: SEQRegionalPlan@dilgp.qld.gov.au
• Post/ mail: Draft South East Queensland Regional Plan Review Feedback, Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, PO Box 15009, City East QLD 4000.
Collating a submission
Perhaps some people or groups would like to make one liner of specific issue submissions and make these available to other people or organisations. On this premise, Redlands2030 invites comments to this and other posts which might be collated into a coverall submission. This submission will be published and anyone will be able to submit all or part of the collated submission for input to ShapingSEQ.
To support a collated submission add a comment to this or the related posts (noting some posts have been published e.g. New SEQ Regional Plan Developed in a Vacuum , Moreton Bay – 20 years of science and planning and more will follow).