Cate Blanchett: Dreams and hopes

Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett addresses the delegates of the ninth World Congress of Metropolis, in Sydney.

Credit: Carolyn Barry

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Celebrities, politicians and city planners have come together for the ninth World Congress of Metropolis.

The congress is basically a consortium of 104 cities - all larger than one million people. And this event is about highlighting the need to connect cities.

So who better to open the conference than . . . Cate Blanchett.

You'd think she might not have too much to say about cities, but then again, she has travelled the world.

Blanchett spoke mainly about the need for vision in planning and how cities are living, creative things.

"Cities are also grown – grown out of homes and whole lives. They are where dreams and hopes and identities are born. They are full of individuals with different needs and unique perspectives. Their Lifeblood is not money, but lives," she said.

"How do you plan with enough looseness to maintain niches without creating ghettos?" This will perhaps be a bigger question discussed over the next couple of days - the issue of decentralisation. As cities become larger and more people have to commute, it only makes sense to develop satellite cities so people don't have to commute so far and vital services such as water, electricity and waste removal can be localised.

Climate change is a also big part of the discussion.

"All cities in the end face a similar significant challenges in the future: overpopulation, increased demand on infrastructure, unforeseen needs of technology - and most importantly, climate change," Blanchett said.

New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees also addressed the several hundred delegate at the conference. "A response to climate change is a challenge of a different order. We are in the territory of the unknown, unfamiliar and the contentious. In such circumstances we must accept the science. Either we trust the science or we don't. either we take action now or we don’t in the hope that the problem will go away," he said.

Rees also revealed - after being gagged by the former premier Morris Iemma - that earlier this year, Sydney faced a severe water shortage so bad that only seven percent drinking water was left in the reserve - "it's essentially drinking mud," he said.

It just goes to show how important city planning is.